I feel like I start almost every blog post with this phrase: This has to be one of my favourite makes, ever! As in, did I actually just make that? Also known as true love. This jumper has been a delight to knit, has expanded my knitting skills, and I just utterly love the finished look.
I believe it was a browse on Ravelry that drew my attention to the pattern, Grain. Anna Johanna is a Finnish designer that is incredibly inspiring. There was a lightness about this jumper pattern that drew me in: it is not chunky, but still warm – trans-seasonal, if you like. I’ve since started following her on Instagram, and I suspect my next colourwork sweater may be one of her designs too. They are just perfect.
In a match between pattern and wool, this was always going to be good: the base materials are just stunning. The main colour is Erika Knight’s Wool Local in Gritstone and the contrast is from my stash. It’s the Knit One, Crochet Too Elfin Tweed in Seafoam that I bought several years ago, but never found the perfect project for. Both yarns are extremely soft and very gentle against the skin – this jumper can be worn with bare arms underneath – and coordinate with one another perfectly. Both come intact with the deliciously sheepy smell, that makes any knitting experience a pleasure for all the senses, truly what joy there is to be found in knitting. Interestingly, while working with lovely fabrics is a delight, there is nothing that quite compares to knitting with beautiful wool.
I purchased the Erika Knight from Tangled Yarn in May, casting on the jumper on the 30th of the same month. It was my first time knitting a colourwork pattern, so I was nervous and for the first time ever, I did do a couple of swatches with the two colours to make sure that the wools worked together okay: they did, beatifully, and I found gauge on 4mm needles. I chose size M1 based on my measurements and the recommended ease of 15cm at bust. The sweater is slightly cropped, which is really pretty and fits so well with the style I am loving at the moment.
Well, knitting it was a lovely challenge. I really enjoyed playing with the colourwork and seeing the pattern emerge. It is beautiful: the seed heads of a grain drop down from the neckline, from a lovely two-colour ribbing. I have ended up, however, with wee holes where I changed from ribbing to stocking stitch in the main body of the jumper. The contrast colour shows through these gaps, and if anyone can recommend a way of ensuring this doesn’t happen in the future, that would be great. It was wonderful seeing the grain pattern emerge, and I think the contrast between the colours is perfect, even if it does mean my ‘grains’ are, as yet, unripe!
The trickiest part, or rather the part I didn’t fully understand was the wrap and turns just after finishing the joke and prior to splitting off the sleeves. The reason behind this wasn’t explained, but I am pretty sure it just makes the back slightly longer, but really I don’t know. Anyway, I followed the instructions and did the wrap and turns but I now wish I hadn’t as (and I knew this beforehand), I always find that my wraps leave wee holes. Does anyone know how to prevent this? Anyway, we live and learn.
When picking up the sleeve stitches, I used a new (to me) trick: I picked up extra stitches at either end, and then knitted them together. This prevents the hole that I always find develops where the arm meets the body, and creates a firmer join (I have started doing this on sock heels too). Of course, I was super pleased with how that worked out on my first sleeve but I forgot to do it on my second. And lo and behold, I ended up with two holes that I’ve since had to sew through with wool to stabilise.
In all, the jumper has been something I’ve loved knitting, and it actually took exactly three months to knit! Which I think isn’t bad going, and after not knitting anything of any size for several years, this is my second jumper of 2020. But definitely my most beloved of the year (sorry, Ursa), if not my most beloved knit, ever.
I did make a couple of changes in that I knitted the sleeves 14cm longer than the pattern called for. This is due to me having rather long arms, but also I did the decreases every 7th row, rather than every 6th – let’s call this an oversight… I definitely do know the difference between 6 and 7, normally. The change in decreases has not been significant (and indeed, I absolutely love how the narrow-fitting sleeves fit), but I am very, very chuffed with the longer length sleeves and have found them to be cosy, cosy. I was careful in knitting the colourwork on the sleeves as I wanted to make sure I could roll them up, and I can: phew. I did not want this too tight. All cast off’s use a stretchy cast-off, my go-to. It’s not the neatest but I cannot bear a tight cast off, and like to be able to roll my sleeves up and not be too delicate with my clothes so it works for me – I also cannot remember what this type of cast-off is called, but will update this if I find reference to it anywhere.
The design overall is super pretty, and I love the wee details. The ‘grass’ around the cuffs is just lovely, and the whole design seems really well thought out. Knitting colourwork in this way has opened up a whole new world of exploration for me, I believe. What’s next?! A world of adventure.
This jumper was actually was knitted on a whim, but once I realised how beautiful it was going to be, and also just how comfy it was, it gained a whole new raison d’etre: evening attire on our 80 mile walk across (in a northerly direction) Scotland. And accompanied with my hand sewn Morella pants it was a dream outfit, that was comfy, warm and entirely pleasurable to wear. All in all, I am chuffed to pieces and utterly delighted with my first colourwork jumper.