A British Outfit: Knitting the Jumper

Hello all! Today I'm going to share the process of knitting my first thing ever. I've dabbled in knitting before, but never more than a few rows of something or other. I remember thinking when I was little and had learned to french knit, that it was all I needed to know, and then I could just sew each row together to magically make a jumper. Obviously it's easier to just learn how to knit, and that's why I included a knitted jumper as part of the British Made outfit I'm making for my dissertation. This way I had to learn how to knit, with no opting out. 


When I first decided that I wanted to knit a jumper, I wanted to make this fancy (obviously machine knitted) crossover jumper found on pinterest. When I started looking for a pattern I soon realised that as a first project I needed to keep it simple if I had any hope of completing it. I then decided to go for a cropped jumper with long sleeves. Easy, right? Apparently not. The closest pattern I found was the Netherton Pullover from Issue 1 of the PomPom mag. It's very simple, knitted in the round with ribbed cuffs, neckband and hem. I did briefly research drafting my own knitting pattern but soon found that it would be a complicated process that I did not have the time or expertise for, unfortunately. This is something I would like to explore in the future though. 

I used 500g Bluefaced Leicester wool which I had already dyed with elderberries. This cost me the pricely sum of £45.48. The first step was to take the hanks that had been dyed and wind them into balls. Thanks to all of the friends that helped me with this step. Below you can see Paul and Liam winding like pros. 


I started the jumper in November and finished it in January, so in total it took 3 months of knitting in the evenings and travelling. I did do a lot of ripping out and starting again though, so I reckon without that it would have taken 2 months. As a novice knitter, I did have a fair few difficulties. This sweater starts with the neckline ribbing which was fun, and fairly painless to do. Next was short rows, and I did not have fun with them. I had many difficulties with making one left, and so did a lot of making one right instead, which made the raglan seam a bit messy as a result. Looking back at the picture below, the neckline has stretched out a fair bit since the picture was taken, and I wonder what I could have done to prevent that. 


As I was trying to keep the project as simple as possible I thought that I would skip the zigzag detailing at the bottom of the body, just knit down as far as I wanted, and the ribbing and then the body would be done. This didn't work out at all well for me because I didn't realise that the decreases for the ribbing were in the last row of the zigzag stitch pattern. So I had to unrip all the way to where the zigzags started and just knuckle down and figure out the stitch pattern. I'm really glad that I did work out the zigzag because it looks really pretty and I'm actually quite proud of it. 


When the body was done it was time to get cracking on the sleeves. The sleeves on the pattern are 3/4 length and I wanted full length so I just kept going until I thought it was time to stop. Unfortunately I completely miscalculated this length and so had to rip back to before the rib started, add some more length and then finish off the sleeves again. I didn't do the zigzags for these as was indicated on the pattern because I wanted to see if I could add the decreases in without the stitch pattern, and I managed it so that worked out well. 


When I tried on the jumper after it was finished I had 2 main issues. The first being that the wide neckline looked silly over the collar shirt that I needed to wear underneath it. The second was that it was too short in the body. I couldn't see any way past the first hurdle, but I could try and lengthen the body by blocking the jumper so that's what I did. I washed my jumper and pinned it to a towel, stretching out the body as much as I could. The issue I had was that the towel was not stable enough to keep the jumper flat, and foam would have been a better material to have pinned the jumper to, offering more resistance. I managed to add 4cm in length to the body and 5cm to the sleeves which I wanted to give a bit of extra length to. Since wearing the jumper I still found it too short and so I washed and blocked it again, managing to add another 4cm to the length of the body. 


Overall I'm really proud of this jumper. I do like that when knitting if a mistake is made it is never irreparable. It just takes a lot of time, patience and energy to go back and do it right. I think I have just enough yarn left over to make some matching socks. 


Thanks for reading, and to everyone who helped me on this incredibly out of my depth project!

Lauren xx