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So, it’s done. The man woolly, nearly 30 years in the making, has enjoyed its first skinny latte with an extra shot. Taking slightly longer than anticipated (it was supposed to be finished before Christmas), it’s been a labour of love overlayed with a layer of stress that I never experience when knitting for myself. Having finally been given the honour of knitting him a jumper after 3 decades of pleading, I knew it had to be perfect to prove to him that knitting rocks, handmade is best, wool is incredible etc, etc, etc.
The Pattern – Brooklyn Tweed – Squall – Updated Fisherman Style Pullover by Michelle Wang
Any pattern by Brooklyn Tweed is a virtual no-brainer for me. I’ve knitted many of their garments and, unusually, as a guy-owned business their offering for men is pretty substantial. The pattern is a really easy mock-cable design (done without the use of a cable needle), with just 4 rows in the pattern so that once you’re rolling, you don’t have to keep looking at the pattern. As with a lot of their designs it has a dedicated edge stitch to help with seaming (with a rather unnecessary twist in my opinion), but helpful nonetheless. Using my trusty stitch markers to separate the repeats as usual, it was pretty good tv knitting and worked up really quickly.
As I do when I knit for myself, I went by the size of a favourite garment rather than by body measurement. I find looking at size instructions and then trying to determine how much ease (room) you need is incredibly difficult. The size we went for was a good 10 inches bigger than body measurement but, in practice, being a winter jumper that is going to be worn more as an outer garment and over both tshirt and shirt, this was spot on. I altered the length of the body by a good 2 inches as most bought jumpers and sweatshirts are short on him and shortened the sleeves by pretty much the same. Obviously, when doing these kinds of alterations, you have to factor in the potential for more yarn but, as you are hoping to make a forever garment in great wool, buying an extra hank is always worthwhile.
As with a lot of their patterns, this called for worsted weight yarn knitted on 5mm needles. If you’re unfamiliar, worsted is the weight between dk and aran. I will always substitute aran as I like a slightly firmer, more substantial fabric and I went further and actually went down to a 4.5mm needle, preferring the feel of this. Because we had so much ease in the jumper to start with, I was confident that the size difference this would make would be insignificant and it was so. I used West Yorkshire Spinners The Croft Aran in Norwick (have I mentioned that this is my favourite yarn) and, as usual, it knitted like a dream.
In my opinion, the key to a successful garment is in the finishing so this was the most time consuming part. Having checked and checked again and added the extra length, I seamed the shoulders and blocked the garment at this early stage to check it was long enough. Happy with that, I then picked up the neck which obviously pulls things up a bit more and blocked it properly once again. The length was still fine but this then showed me the proper width of the body and exactly where it sat on the shoulders to help with the length of the sleeves. As this is basically a glorified rib, it was much narrower before blocking and so this was a really essential step. The sleeves came last – I knitted them both to the sleeve cap shaping and checked them against the body. I felt they were too long and took off a couple of pattern repeats before working the sleeve heads. Ideally, I would have blocked the sleeves at this point to see how they grew, but the ‘will it be ready soon’ was getting on my nerves at this point so I didn’t – this was a mistake and I would have taken a bit more off if I had but that was 100% down to him so my conscience is clear!
The sewing up is nobody’s favourite bit but this came together pretty easily. Mattress stitch is always your best friend, somewhat more challenging on garter stitch but not too much of a problem when you get into the swing of it.
Would I do it again?
In a heartbeat. Good, clear pattern. The stitch pattern looks much more complicated that it is and is easy to remember. It’s easy to ‘cable’ the wrong way if you have a momentary loss of concentration so it’s a good habit to literally run your finger over the pattern every 4 rows to check that all is as it should be – nobody wants to rip out a night’s work due to a boob a few inches back.
Does the yarn work for the pattern?
Absolutely. Croft is a fabulous yarn – a joy to knit with and washes and wears brilliantly. After years of hand washing I now put these in the washing machine in a pillowcase, on the shortest wash at 30 degrees, spin and then lay out flay to dry (preferably away from cats).
Is it loved/have I proved a point/does he now appreciate the love, skill and effort that makes a handknitted wool jumper infinitely superior to a mass produced, shop bought garment?
What do you think???!!!!
Remember that any project you buy from me comes with interference as standard so please never be afraid to ask for help!