I was looking at my Make Nine choices. There comes a point in every plan where the initial enthusiasm wears off and it becomes harder to realise all the garments I have chosen. Generally, I think this point comes when I reach the more challenging items. One of the most difficult items in my plan is, without doubt, the knitted jumper. It is probably no coincidence that it is also the most needed item too.
The last year I have worked mostly form home. Home is hard to heat. Although that isn’t a problem at the weekend when moving around keeps me warm, but on work days when I’m sitting still and chained to the desk I can quickly feel cold.
Finding a pattern that I wanted to knit proved to be a difficult step. Essentially I have two specifications – that the sweater shouldn’t be too fancy so that it gets maximum wear and also that the pattern uses only techniques I have used before (or at least not too many new ones).
Extensive browsing on Ravelry came up with limited possibilities. There are so many beautiful patterns with colourwork or cables that I itch to do. However, I’m determined to have a warm jumper in my wardrobe by winter so I need to rein in my ambitions until I have a bit more knitting experience under my belt.
Of course, I could just choose a jumper for it’s shape and leave out any cables or colourwork, but that requires modifying the pattern. With my previous make, a striped tank top, I re-wrote the whole pattern adding in the stripes, but also correcting mistakes I found in the maths. I didn’t want a repeat of that experience, it was pretty soul-destroying for a beginner.
Fortunately, I found this fantastic vintage pattern in a charity shop. I picked up quite a few of these 70s patterns, but this was the plainest one. In fact, I’m now thinking it looks a bit like a school jumper. (Thank goodness I didn’t consider making this in grey otherwise it would definitely look like school uniform! Although perhaps it looks a bit like a Slitherin house, Hogwarts school jumper because it is green.) I think it fufils my criteria well; plain enough to wear with most of my wardrobe and using all the techniques I’ve used before – increasing, decreasing, ribbing, picking up stitches.
Features of my vintage pattern:
- Ribbed finishes on the hem, neckline and cuff including two bands of a second colour.
- Worked flat and then seamed
- Round neckline, perfect for wearing shirts underneath
My next obstacle was buying the wool. Sadly the pattern didn’t help much with this – “7 balls “of a long departed product wasn’t going to provide me with any guidance on the quantity I needed. Fortunately, this is where Ravelry is helpful. I found a similar style of jumper in a similar size and made a guess. I decided that to be on the safe side I would order 1000 m of yarn, and buy a few extra balls in different colours. That way I could decide which second colour to use when the wool arrived and (ambitiously) I thought I could even make something else with all the left-overs. I still have a little of the two blues from the tank top.
I decided to use Lett lopi yarn again. I enjoyed using it before and it comes in a great range of colours. Also, it isn’t too expensive. I picked 1407 – pine green heather for the main colour and also ordered 0005 – black heather, 1417 – frostbite, and 9421 – celery green heather as possible contenders for the second colour.
When the yarn arrived I decided to choose the palest green (1417 – frostbite) as a contrast to my pine green. Is frostbite ever that green, I thought frost-bitten toes tend to be black – not a pleasant thought? Or perhaps it isn’t really about toes, but more like frost on a leaf? Anyway, I made a swatch and picked my needle sizes based on that.
I suspect this project is going to take a long time, so I’ve decided that I’m going to knit it in stages, starting with the back piece first. I’ll then go back to some sewing before I attempt the front.
Does anyone else have experience with vintage knitting patterns? My biggest obstacle, so far, has been picking the yarn. But I’m still quite an inexperienced knitter and I’m bound to come across more problems. Are there any other drawbacks? On the plus side I’ve found that patterns of this vintage are often knitted flat, as opposed to in the round. At the moment I’m finding that this is my preferred method, but perhaps I’m just recalling the horror that was this cabled hat when I think about knitting in the round.