I can still hear myself insisting over and over to my friend that I was happy with just being able to do a garter stitch and that I didn’t feel like I needed to learn purl or any other fancy stitches. That was back in 2009 and since then I’ve learned a few more stitches. Well, really just one more.
After about a dozen scarves and about eight sets of wristwarmers I felt it was time for another challenge, I felt ready to knit my first jumper. Because I felt I needed to get my head around knitting a jumper I didn’t want to jump straight into knitting one for myself. Instead I decided to knit a jumper for each of my friend’s children – a boy aged five and a girl aged almost three.
The hardest part was deciding what I wanted to knit as there are hundreds of patterns for jumpers on Ravelry and I found suggestions by housemates to be very helpful. The basis of the jumpers was the ‘Knit Coastal Stripe Pullover‘ pattern from Lion Brand Yarn. Ravelry link.
There were a lot of things I modified about the pattern and the final result looks almost nothing like the pattern, but it was a good basis to start with. I found the pattern relatively easy to read and only made one big mistake which was knitting the first part almost twice as long as it should have been!
Deciding on how to modify the jumpers proved tricky and I remember running a lot of things past housemates who I think got about as invested as me in them. As such we mutually chose and decided on:
Boy’s jumper [henceforth referred to as green jumper]:
- Green for the jumper
- A brown dragon pattern on the front which later changed to also include fire as the dragon was too small and couldn’t be scaled without looking too blocky
- A small neckline
Girl’s jumper [henceforth referred to as purple jumper]:
- Purple for the jumper
- A flower garland which later changed to a large pink star for more effect
- A larger neckline
All of the above took me several days to decide on, even though it now seems silly and easy, but I do remember being so much in awe of the project that I wanted to get it right the first time.
Having decided on the colours, calculating the yardages and having asked the lovely @melsworth and @noirem on Twitter about the English substitute for worsted yarn [Answer: Aran] it was time to go wool shopping which was October 30th. As I realised later I had bought about 40% too much wool which I’m sure I’ll be able to use for something else in the future.
Wanting to get the majority of the knitting out of the way I started knitting the back of the green jumper which is where I made the only major mistake of the project by knitting about 300 stitches too much. After that I moved on to the front piece whilst constantly measuring the length. With that in mind I decided to knit bot sleeves at the same time which reduced the time spent measuring that they’re both the same length and I’d equally increase stitches.
Writing it up like that makes it seem like a walk in the park and like it happened quickly, but it actually spans over two months thanks to my thumb injury. I remember the feeling of achievement of having finished the dragon and the fire and realising I got it all right on the first attempt and I also remembered the sadness when I realised my neckline was rubbish and I apparently couldn’t decrease well enough.
Knitting the green jumper didn’t feel right the entire time which is probably due to the long break I had to take with it, but also the wool itself. It split a lot and it just didn’t feel great knitting with it. The dragon, whilst knitted right on the first attempt, was slightly pulling the surrounding wool and there were a lot of imperfections where I didn’t get the tension quite right. The jumper also turned out quite small compared and I found out later that it didn’t fit properly.
Realising that knitting identical pieces at the same time was a stroke of genius I then started on the purple jumper which was much more fluid and easy.
I think I completed the front and back piece within just a few days and the sleeves within a couple of days. It was much more straightforward and pleasant to knit. I added some stripes on the sleeves on a whim, too.
Before sewing the green jumper I blocked it to make it easier to sew it together, but it didn’t make enough of a difference to consider going through the hassle on the other jumper, too.
Again I started with the green jumper and the sewing of it which was, apart from one sleeve, straightforward and helped greatly with understanding how a jumper works. The purple one was a breeze.
I had such different experiences with each jumper that it’s really difficult to sum up. I’m glad they are done and I know I won’t undertake something like it for someone else again. I now understand how jumpers work and was confident enough to now start on my own one.