Down in the Woods

Down in the Woods jumper

I rarely manage to complete a project in its proper season, and this is no exception: here’s the Oyster’s new winter jumper, which I’ve finished up in some of the hottest weather Ireland has seen in years.

It’s a cuddly collared raglan in Debbie Bliss Donegal Luxury Tweed. This is a fabulously soft yarn, despite its rugged appearance. The Oyster chose it himself – quite a while ago, now – on a visit to This Is Knit.

It’s knit on 5mm needles, with 4.5mm for the ribbing. Traditionally seamed, with the rolled edgings knit in the round after the sewing up was finished.

Overall, I’m delighted with how this turned out. I started out knowing only that I wanted corrugated ribbing with rolled edges, and some kind of pattern on the body. (I thought it might be an all-over pattern, but in fact I think the understated band of lattice I ended up with works really well.) The idea for the collar came next, and then all I needed to do was work out how to join it all together. I based my dimensions on a fairly fitted cotton ribbed jumper from H&M. I confined the ribbing to the sides, added a little more ease and changed the collar design.

Down in the Woods jumper, blocking

I’ve called it Down in the Woods because of its teddy-bear cuddliness, but also because the colour choices were motivated by the Oyster’s ever-verdant Robin Hood obsession.

Celebrations

  • Edgings! I absolutely love the way the corrugated ribbing rises out of the rolled edge. I think it’s my favourite bit.
  • Collar! The Oyster has an enormous head (ask me how I know), and jumpers of this design, with an opening part way down the front, often end up too tight on the neck long before he’s outgrown them in other ways. This collar is Enormously Clever, I tell you. It’s super-stretchy, and it involved no sewing or picking up of stitches. It worked just as I hoped, and I feel very smug about it!
  • For the colour work, I took the opportunity to teach myself two-handed knitting, which was a revelation. I doubt I’ll ever go back to laborious one-handed colour changes for work like this.
  • The two-handed style also greatly simplifies a technique advocated by Di Gilpin, whereby you catch the unused strand down on each stitch. (You don’t need to do this – every three stitches is fine – but if you do, you get a beautifully dense, consistent fabric, and the back looks fabulous.) Holding the pattern strand in the left hand allows you to “aim” the right needle on each background stitch without any faffing.

Jumper on boy

Lessons

  • The jumper I based my dimensions on has very fitted sleeves. I made these ones a little bigger: they fit fine, but they’re still tighter than I was planning. Next time I do sleeves like this I’ll leave more space under the arms.
  • I used the 4.5mm needles to knit the collar, which left it just a shade less generous than I’d have liked. Not enough to rip and redo, but if I make another of these I’ll use the larger size needle.
  • The edgings look beautiful, but my casting off could have been looser. Quite a bit looser, in fact. The waist and cuffs have to be eased on rather more carefully than I’d like. This, I may actually frog and fix, because regular yanking around will shorten the life of the edgings.
  • For corrugated ribbing, I must remember to twist the colours at the first changeover in future. I didn’t do this for the first few rows of the front, and had to sew down the resultant flaps. I can tell, but only if I look closely.
  • This yarn has very little tensile strength. Sewing up was frustrating at first, because the yarn kept fraying and breaking; in the end I resorted to using extremely short lengths. Lots of ends to sew in, but that’s OK.

That seems like a lot of lessons for something I’m so happy with, but hey, there it is. The Oyster, for his part, tells me he loves it, which is always nice to hear!

Robin Hood pose

1 thought on “Down in the Woods

  1. Hi! You commented on my blog and I wanted to thank you for the great story about your two best friends- how adorable! I wish I’d started sewing that early, this would all be SO much easier now LOL. I think we learn faster and with less strife as children… and certainly with more abandon!

    I was unable to email you because your blog says you haven’t set up your email yet, but you are entered into my free give-away and I’ll be peeking in on your blog, too- it’s really beautiful!

    – Judi

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