One of the skills I wanted to learn was to be able to knit motifs around the shoulder of jumpers and recently, I came across the designs of knitwear designer June Steingass from Knit.Love.Wool.
The reason why I loved these fair isle designs is they remind me of the chunky nordic jumpers and cardigans that are so well loved by many northern Europeans but are simply too warm for an Australian winter.
To do this type of knitting requires the skill of ‘carrying’ the contrast colour yarn along (and behind of course) the main colour. However, depending on the distance (the amount of stitches between the main and contrast colour) determines whether you simply knit the contrast colour and have it stretch over the main or you weave it in invisibly so that you’re not left with strands of contrast colour on the inside.
You can see the complexity here (which means that I have to hold two yarns with two different fingers) so it gets a bit awkward.
I found out quite late that I should have been weaving in the contrast colour and it takes a bit of practice to get the hang of it. In the end I did so some of the design is done correctly but the first half has the strands running along the work. I just hope they don’t get snagged anywhere.
I love seamless top down knitting especially when doing patterns like this because the design unfolds in front of your eyes and it’s motivating enough to keep going. However, I found the body and the sleeves a bit tedious because they were all stocking stitch. This jumper took weeks for me to complete when it should have been a lot less but methinks it was also because I wasn’t entirely happy with the yarn.
I used Luxury 8pm Bendigo Yarn which was part of my stash. I soaked it in wool wash to make it softer but I can’t underestimate the importance of knitting with plush yarn that is lovely on your fingertips and something that you WANT to pick up and knit. I found the Bendigo Yarn a bit rough and heavy to work with but after soaking and blocking, it wears well. It’s certainly warm.
It made me think that sometimes when you’re using stash yarn for a project, it somehow diminishes the enjoyment of the creation because you’re not starting afresh – like an artist starts off with a clean palette of colours.
The yarn reminds you of the previous project you worked on – and indeed you may wear the same yarn with a different pattern – but it has denied you the pleasure of working with something new and unique to that project.
It’s why I think that for large projects such as jumpers, it’s best to buy the wool that you want to knit with (and ALWAYS go for natural fibres) and then with your stash yarn, knit those beanies, cowls or mits.
I bought three of Jen’s designs and I like them because they draw the eye upwards. As someone with a pear shaped body, I need to have more visual elements on the top half of my body. These are perfect for that because they’re also lovely designs of nature.
My intention is to knit another one of these but short sleeved this time ready for spring and summer…but first, I need to buy the yarn.