Free jumper!

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This is the first time I’ve tried to unravel a whole project and reknit it from scratch and I’m pleased to say that it has been a total success! I’ve turned a disappointing Funky Grandpa into an awesome Natsumi.

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The construction was pretty interesting. The jumper is worked across the body sideways with a provisional cast on. There’s lots of stocking stitch but the cable keeps things interesting. It is a really easy cable to remember so no need to lug the pattern about. Once you’ve finished the body you pick up the stitches from the provisional cast on for the sleeves and then knit them flat. It was pretty quick and easy to make and a much better pattern for this wool than the original one.

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I really like the finished jumper, it’s really flattering and warm. The only thing I’d change about it is the sleeves. The pattern suggests a cast off at the end of the sleeve without any ribbing to stop it curling. I was a bit suspicious but thought I’d go with it and see how it turned out. You’ll be unsurprised to hear that the ends do indeed curl up in a rather annoying way. If I’d worked the sleeves in the round I could have just undone the cast off and added in some rib but as I worked them flat I’d have had to undo the seams on both sides and to be honest I couldn’t be bothered! I’m sure I’ll get used to it and have decided to embrace it as a feature of the jumper.

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Things were not looking promising before blocking….

As I was in the process of knitting the I was a bit concerned that it would look really rustic and crappy because it was re-used wool but after blocking it has come out really well. I was super conscientious and blocked it out properly with pins and everything! I don’t think that you can tell at all that it used to be something else.

The hem of the jumper dips at the back which I really like. My trousers have a tendency to fall down at the back (especially when I’m on my bike) and this jumper is good for preserving my modesty!

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I’ve worn this jumper pretty much constantly since I finished it and I like it even more because it was basically free! It has inspired me to sort through my huge knitwear collection and see what else I don’t really wear. I dug out a slightly too small Snowbird I made a few years ago and I’ve unravelled it ready to make myself another free jumper. As I was going through my knitwear drawer I also found quite a few little cardigans I loved a couple of years ago them but don’t wear much any more and I’ve put them on one side for a clothes swap at the weekend. Initially I had mixed feelings about giving away things I’ve made myself but now that my wool drawer is looking ordered and calm I’m very pleased with my decision. I can actually see what I have  and I don’t need to feel guilty about making new things!

How easy is it to re-use old wool?

A year or so ago I made a Funky Grandpa by La Maison Rililie in Du Store Alpakka Mirasol. I loved the wool and I hoped that it would be an awesome boxy cardigan that I would wear to death. Unfortunately it didn’t work out quite the way I wanted it to. The weight was a bit wrong for the style of cardigan plus it was a bit too big for my shoulders and kept falling off.  I wore it a few times last winter but other than that it has stayed resolutely in the cupboard.

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Here’s the cardigan before I unravelled it!

So, when I ran out of wool between Christmas and New Year (very poor planning on my part) and decided to have a go at unravelling and re-using some old wool, this cardigan was first on the list. As I’d finished this over a year ago I didn’t find it too painful to unravel. I still love the buttons so I was pleased to have them to use for another project (maybe Bellows ). The wool is alpaca and had started to try and felt in places so it took a little persuasion to unravel at times but I made fairly swift progress and rather enjoyed it.

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This is how curly it was!

Initially I’d planned to try and re-knit the unravelled wool without washing it properly first. This turned out to be a very unrealistic idea as the the wool came out insanely kinky. It would have been a nightmare to work with (and I suspected would have looked awful when knitted up). So I decided to do things properly. I wound the wool into skeins (using the back of a chair), soaked it in some lovely hand wash detergent and hung it out in the garden to drip dry.

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It looks a lot less kinky after I’d washed it.

The skeins of wool haven’t come out totally straight but they are looking much better! I think the final little kinks will come out over time as they are wound into balls.

The process has been a little more time consuming that I’d originally thought, and the front room is now covered in bits of orange fluff,  but I’ve found it very relaxing. Lots of winding things and unwinding things!

I’ve already started a new project with the wool. It’s going to be Natsumi by Kazekobo (from Wool People Vol. 7). I’ve had my eye on this project for a while and think the wool will suit it very well. I’m hopeful that the fluffiness of the alpaca combined with the side-on stitches and the interest of the cable pattern will distract the eye from any imperfections in the re-used wool.

I would definitely recommend having a look through your knitting drawer and seeing what you can find to unravel! It’s much slower than going to the shop but the process is relaxing and nothing beats the smug feeling of getting something for nothing!

Orange is the new black (or grey in my case)

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Even though we took quite a few photos this is the only one I can use because I am pulling weird faces in literally all of the others! I am not good at having my picture taken…..I’m not 100% sure it shows the cardigan off to it’s full awesomeness but it  saves you looking at pictures of me gurning strangely…

It would be fair to say that I am usually  a little bit safe with my colour choices… I like brown and beige and grey…indeed I love grey so much that I could make several whole outfits out out of my grey clobber and still have some extra grey clothes left lying around….This year I decided to add some more colour to my wardrobe.  I have been very brave and made an awesome burnt orange cardigan! It couldn’t be further away from grey! I am rather proud of myself for my daring.

I wanted a baggy boyfriend style cardigan that I could throw on over other layers. I used the Funky Grandpa pattern by La Maison Rililie but I ignored the colour work. I think the colour pattern looks nice but I don’t really like to wear cardigans which are that busy. I used Du Store Alpakka Mirasol in 519 which I got from Knit with attitude. It’s an amazing colour! You can’t see it on the photos but the orange is flecked with yellow which really shows up in the sunlight. The wool is a treat to work with too and knits up to be soft and warm.

It hasn’t been the most fun project to knit……For a start the pattern was a tad confusing and I went so wrong the first time that I tried it that I had to start all over again which was pretty annoying given that I’d knitted down to the bottom ribbing!

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Here it is blocking out, the colour clashes quite a bit with the bed cover!

As well as ignoring the colour work I also ignored various other bits of the pattern:

  • I did a wrap and turn for the sleeve shaping as the method being described seemed unnecessarily complicated.
  • I used 2.75mm needles for the ribbing and pick ups because I don’t have any 2mm needles and didn’t want to buy any!
  • I made the button holes as I was going along rather than trying out the ‘after thought’ button holes as suggested. I just didn’t see the point!
  • I ignored the i-cord bind off for the button band. I tried it a couple of times and it just didn’t look right. I think a standard cast off looks fine.
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It looked awful before I blocked it out! All twisty and curled in and horrible.

I’m really pleased with this cardigan! It’s really warm and cozy and I love the colour! The buttons are a particular joy.  It’s not quite perfect though; the neck is a little wide and it threatens to fall off my shoulders quite often and the sleeves are very long. They are only minor issues though and they haven’t stopped me from wearing it every day since I finished it!

Aarrrrrrrrgggghhh!!! (or how annoying it is to have to unravel your knitting and start again…)

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I did lots of knitting on the doomed cardigan on holiday in Norway

I was making a Funky Grandpa by La Maison Rililie. I had been making it for a little while. It was in a splendid shade of orange  from Du Store Alpakka Mirasol (I ignored the stripes as I wanted a block colour). I was very very very excited about it. All was going very well. I was speeding along and had finished the body. I cast off. I tried it on. Disaster! Instead of the boxy baggy cardigan I was aiming for I’d made a sort of half fitted effort which was tight around the hips yet loose around the bust with oddly massive arm holes! Urgh! Plus I had a weirdly large amount of wool left.

Somewhere along the way I’d deviated from the pattern with hideous results. The magic of blocking wasn’t going to help me as the shape was all wrong and no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t think of a way to fix it. I was very disappointed indeed. I put the cardigan away for a few days hoping to feel more positive towards it later (sometimes that works). I tried it on again. It was still awful. I repeated this process. Still nothing.

There was only one option……. Undo it all and start again! AAaaaaaarrrrggggh!

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I really love this colour! Look how much I’d done though 😦

A little while ago I encouraged sew much choice to figure out a way she could avoid undoing loads of beautiful colour work in her nearly finished paper dolls jumper to fix a problem with the sleeves. My suggestion worked and she was able to fix it which is super exciting (she even wrote me a nice blog post about it *blushes*). You would have thought that this good deed would have earned me some good knitting karma but sadly not. Instead I have learned an important lesson; stop being lazy and bother to try things on as I go!

I’ve since restarted the cardigan (feeling slightly resentful) and I think I’ve found where it all went wrong…. I have my fingers crossed. This had better be the most awesome cardigan in the world once its finished!

Pomme de pin cardigan with massive buttons!

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I had my eye on the Pomme de pin Cardigan by Amy Christoffers for quite a while.  I made a Larch Cardigan by the same designer a little while ago and I love it and wear it all the time.

I used Du Store Alpakka Mirasol which I got from Knit with attitude. I seem to have got really into knitting with beige and brown at the moment. It’s a bit boring but I really like this shade of brown……The wool was lovely to knit with; really soft and snuggly.

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Here is it with the sleeves tacked in

Once I got going on the lace pattern it was pretty easy to remember (both straight and in the round). I did get a bit confused when I got to the decreases though. It took me a few goes to figure out what I needed to do and I got very annoyed when I had to keep undoing rows because I’d been randomly adding in stitches……I might have just been being a bit thick though.

I was a little bit slap-dash when I was sewing on the sleeves and collar. I did tack them in first but I still ended up bodging things a little when it came to the final sewing up. It’s turned out just fine though! I love the way that knitted fabric is so forgiving when it comes to seaming!

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I really need a haircut…..

I loved the dad style buttons used in the original pattern. I have a real soft spot for this kind of button.  I searched about on the internet for ages but I just couldn’t find any big enough for this pattern. In the end I went for wooden buttons. As you can see they are HUGE! I was a bit worried when they first arrived  but once I’d sewn them on I was fully convinced! I do rather like big buttons so this cardigan makes me very happy.

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I have been wearing this non-stop since I finished it (even though it’s far too warm to wear it)!

My boyfriend took the photos while we were out picking blackberries. To start with it looked like our fellow fruit loving Londoners had beaten us to all of the good blackberries but then we found some secret bramble bushes and managed a really good haul.

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Our blackberry haul

Then my awesome boyfriend made them into a super tasty pie for us!