I’ve finally finished my She Loves Wool jumper and, mercifully, I am pretty happy with the result.
From my experience with this sweater, I will be a lot more reserved about choosing patterns where there is no documentary evidence of the making process online. I think I was quite lucky. The few projects linked to the pattern on Ravelry indicate that others have found making this sweater a frustrating process. This kit is a luxury product- it is very expensive- so I would have expected a little more to make the experience as pleasant as possible for the user.
I think also being a fairly experienced knitter was a big help. The fact that I put so much time into planning this sweater meant that I was able to think critically about possible issues such as the fit and sleeve length, which circumvented what could have been very painful problems. There are hundreds of hours of knitting in this project so the idea of ripping back was unbearable.
Needle: 3.5mm circular; 3.25 for the neckline ribbing
Getting to try the sweater on for the first time was a huge relief. I’d pinned it together a few times during the making process to assess fit, but you can never be sure how something will look until it is all sewn up.
For some reason I’ve been hesitant about criticising Wool and the Gang- perhaps because I slightly know the founders. However, I strongly feel that this pattern was not designed for hand-knitters. Even the most basic fact of knitting fair isle flat is not typical. I can’t find any evidence to suggest that anyone test-knitted this pattern and you can tell.
My gripes are mainly small things, such as the way the decreases are done on the raglan seams that means they are a little untidy when sewn up.
I really wasn’t happy with how the raglan seams looked so I played around with ways to make them neater.
Annoyingly you can see the stitches against the other colour. I think it looks better but I’ve left the ends loose so I have the option of undoing it.
Perhaps I have been spoiled by knitting a lot of projects from Brooklyn Tweed, where every detail of the design is painstakingly thought out. I also feel the sizing is quite off. I know that WatG patterns tend to have a very relaxed fit but still. I managed to get a good fit due to careful swatching and knitting maths.
I sewed up the whole sweater and then picked up the neckline stitches in the round. I think this is a superior method to knitting flat and then seaming the neckline.
I picked up way fewer stitches than indicated in the pattern. I ended up with 120. I basically just picked up one neckline stitch per stitch on the front, back and sleeves. Since I wanted a tight neckline, it worked for me. I also made a folded neckband for a more professional finish.
As a note, I ended up using up nearly all of the black yarn (and I’m fairly sure I ordered an extra ball). I did omit the contrast hem and cuffs (knitting them in black rather than white), which increased the yardage a bit. However I am a little surprised I got through it all because I made my sleeves and body quite a bit shorter than indicated in the pattern.
I had more than two balls of white left.
I’ve been working consistently on my She Loves Wool sweater since picking it back up in the summer. I hope people don’t find these posts too dull, but I’ve been working on this project for so long and I don’t have that many other makes to write about.
I have now finished the front section and have moved back to working on the sleeves. I looked back at my previous post in which I blithely wrote that I was ‘nearly ready’ to start the colourwork on the first sleeve. I was nowhere near that point!
There is a lot of plain knitting to do once the sleeve increases are finished for the smallest size. I am mostly knitting on public transport or while watching TV at home so it’s not too bad but, as with the other pieces, still pretty dull.
The instructions state to knit the sleeve until it is 60cm long. This seems excessive. I have very long arms and they’re a little over 50cm from wrist to armpit. I’ve put the first sleeve back on hold at 21″, planning to re-check the length before starting the colour work. While I feel that I should follow my instincts and start the sleeve colourwork, I feel very apprehensive about deviating from the instructions. Normally I have to add length to my sleeves so it seems perverse to make them shorter than stated.
I took the time to check the sleeve length as accurately as possible. I pinned the sweater sections to my bra- the colour work is the same depth on all of the sections so the back is standing in for the sleeve. As you can see (I hope!) the sleeve looks good so I have proceeded with the colour work. I might even start putting the yoke together before finishing the second sleeve so that I can feel 100% confident about the length.
In more positive news, the neckline looks a lot better than I was expecting. The official pictures of this sweater all show the neckline being quite open, which I hate.
However, my neckline looks very different. I wonder if perhaps the sample was knitted in the largest size. Anyway, it gives me hope that I won’t have to make a lot of alterations because I’ve spent quite enough time on this sweater already.
Suddenly I am starting to feel like I am making good progress on this sweater so I am a lot more motivated to work on it. If all goes well I might even be able to wear it before Christmas.
She Loves Wool- kit from WatG * And Other Stories
Ravelry project page
After serving several weeks as my inspiration project, I hit a speedbump in knitting my Mermaid Humboldt sweater. I had a few flights coming up and needed a relatively easy project that I could work on while travelling. I returned to my hibernating She Loves Wool sweater. It’s been a good few months since I ground to a halt with the incredible monotony of knitting long row after long row of black stocking stitch. However, this was exactly what I needed to ease my anxiety on the plane- and simple enough that I could start the new season of Orange is the New Black at the same time.
After a long weekend spent in France with my dad, I had nearly finished the black section of the front.
I am now coming up to what I think will be the most challenging aspect of this knit- the neckline. There are no modelled pictures of anyone wearing a She Loves Wool sweater online. From the few photos of unmodelled sweaters, the neckline looks far too open for my liking. I am going to have to make some significant alterations to get it the way I want, which will mean lots of lifelines and I will also attempt to take detailed notes.
With that in mind, this project was becoming a little unwieldy for travel knitting. I decided to cast on one of the sleeves to take on my various summer holidays. I finished the second ball of black yarn and put the body on hold until I have some time to start working on the fair isle section, which I think I will enjoy.
The first sleeve- I had used up one ball of wool at this point. The sleeves were quite funny to knit. At first, they seemed to be going really quickly compared to the body sections. A couple of inches into the plain black stocking part, they seemed interminable. Then, all of a sudden they seemed super long and the first ball was nearly complete.
I hadn’t mentioned in my previous blog posts but I made one of my standard alterations to patterns and used a tubular cast-on for all of the pattern pieces. I just love the neat edge that it produces. I used the Ysolda method for the sleeve- can’t remember if I did the same for the body but it doesn’t really matter. A tubular cast on is one of those things I prefer to do at home rather than on the move as it’s quite fiddly.
The current status is that the back is complete aside from alterations, the first sleeve is nearly ready to start the fair isle work and the second sleeve is my current travel knitting project. Since taking the photo, I have managed to start the fair isle on the front section too.
Pattern and yarn: She Loves Wool kit by Wool and the Gang
Previous posts 1 2
Still making slow progress on my Wool and the Gang jumper. As predicted, the knitting became so much more fun once I got to the fair isle section. I was a bit worried about how this buttery soft yarn would take to fair isle- I feel that the natural grip of a more rustic wool helps to keep the tension even. However, I think it looks okay so far.
I’ve never knit fair isle flat before- I knit two handed (right hand English, left hand continental. Feel like there is a Brexit metaphor in there somewhere) on the right side but only purl English-style because I find purling continental too much of a pain. It’s easier just to drop the yarn each time.
As I got near to completing the back section, my thoughts started to turn to how I will change the neckline as I described in my last post. I’m planning to knit a couple of extra inches but I’m not quite sure how to calculate how much extra to do.
For now, I made the pattern as written and will re-evaluate once I have completed the other sections. Working the black section of the front of this sweater is proving arduous thus far.
Pattern and yarn: She Loves Wool kit by Wool and the Gang
I’m currently working on knitting the She Loves Wool sweater. As I mentioned in a previous post, I asked for this kit for my birthday (which just happens to be today) after having my eye on it ever since it was released.
I couldn’t resist opening all of my birthday presents as soon as I received them. I have always had issues with impulse control and I was really eager to start a new project after I finished my Paper Whales sweater.
I had a lot of weird ambivalent feelings before starting this sweater. I felt apprehensive about the fact that there are no projects on Ravelry. I also a saw a similar sweater and suddenly felt like maybe I should knit that instead.
I’m really keen to come out of this process with a sweater I am in love with. I measured a few tops and sweaters to gauge the length I want for the body and sleeves. I want this sweater to hit on the hip without loads of extra room. I want a little bit of ease but a decent fit that accentuates my figure.
Striped RTW 21.5″
Rainbow Breton 23″
Rainbow Breton 26″
According to the schematic, the sweater will be a little long in the body (24.25″). Sleeve length should be good (31″). I will have to be mindful to measure as I go since my row gauge is a bit off. I will probably knit the main body to 2″ shorter than the length stated in the pattern.
I also want a nice, tight neckline more similar to the ‘winter woven’ sweater pictured above. One of my current pet peeves is when you can see my t-shirt under my sweater. My aubergine rainbow sweater comes the closest to having the neckline size I want. Annoyingly I don’t ever seem to have knit a raglan sweater with a round neck. What I may have to do is keep the live stitches for all four pieces on hold after I finish them. I can then baste the seams together and check the fit of the neck before casting them all off. An advantage of the kit containing loads of small balls of wool is that this should be pretty easy.
I ended up knitting three gauge swatches. My gauge was slightly under that stated in the pattern on the recommended 3.5mm needles. Even though blocking brought it close, I wanted to try out going up a needle size. One criticism I have of the pattern is that it suggests that you can try to knit looser or tighter if your gauge is off. This is presumably aimed at newer knitters who don’t have a range of needle sizes, or anyone who is annoyed at paying out for WatG’s fancy needles only to find them of no use. I really think this is awful advice. A lot of different factors influence your tension and I don’t think that consciously trying to knit differently is an effective solution- especially when it is so easy to simply use different needles!
Anyway, I found that the fabric on 4mm needles looked awful and the gauge was way off- I frogged that swatch without even blocking it. After not liking the fabric as much on 3.75mm needles either, I decided to stick with a 3.5mm needle. According to my calculations if I knit size 1 my finished bust will be just over 38ins (zero ease). Size 2 would be just over 41ins (3ins ease). My League is around 37″ in the bust and plenty roomy so I will stick with size 1.
Another issue that I considered was whether to add waist shaping. Even though I want this to be a fairly casual sweater, I want to look nice wearing it. I like the fit of my Better Breton sweater so I eventually decided to add similar shaping to that pattern.
I’ve noticed over the years how much more willing I am to spend a lot of time in the planning stages of a project. I think this represents progress for me since I have a tendency in life to be so relentlessly focused on outcomes that I do not engage with or enjoy the process of getting there.
With knitting, time spent planning tends to be a worthwhile . Some things can only be learnt through (sometimes bitter) experience. However, there are other problems that can be avoided through careful planning, especially as you come to learn about the art and science of knitting over time.
Pattern and yarn: She Loves Wool kit
After a year in the knitting wilderness, I’ve started to feel inspired about picking up my needles again. This post is a bit of an idea log. I have a few projects in mind that I hope will come to fruition in 2018. A couple of these projects will definitely happen because they’re my travel knitting for India!
After finishing my Wowligan, I decided to try another kid project. I’m going to have a go at Paper Dolls in the smallest size, with some cute whales swimming around the yoke. Using remnants from my League sweater.
Sraid A’ Chladaich
I’m keen to use stashed yarn at the moment. I have a big box of wool and I don’t want to be one of those crafters who reaches SABLE (stash acquisition beyond life expectancy) status. I opened up Inspired by Islay and remembered this delightful hat, which matches my current favourite sweater.
Wool and the Gang She Loves Wool sweater
This kit is part of a collab with & Other Stories, one of my favourite clothing brands. Although I rarely like WATG designs (too chunky for my body type), I fell in love with this sweater straight away, but vacillated about buying the kit since it starts at £90. I was reminded of my love for it in the Black Friday sales (curse you, relentless consumerism!) and, after nearly buying twice, decided to ask if I could get it for my birthday. Getting this kit is pretty much the only thing that will make turning 31 tolerable.
I knitted a couple of swatches for this sweater a while back. Again, I got close to starting but the cost of the wool I wanted was prohibitive. Pattern? I think I’m going to unravel one of the first sweaters I made and recycle it into a Humboldt, along with some beautiful speckled yarn as the contrast colour.
Lucky charms hat
I’m thinking of making up a pattern for more of a fitted bobble hat using the leftovers of my mini skeins from the Lemonade Shop. It might be a little to similar to the KDD hat but could perhaps become a gift.
It’s nice to feel inspired to knit again, and having ideas of my own rather than sticking to patterns as written. I feel increasingly cynical about my day job and seeing the success of other creative micro-business owners like Kate Davies makes me dream more and more about leaving the 9-5 behind.