Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Two-Year Knitting Project Completed at Last–WOYWW 291

The first of three posts for today. I wasn’t intending to join WOYWW this week but since I’m posting, I thought I might as well, even if strictly speaking this isn’t on my desk! It is Wednesday, though…

My excuse for taking so long over this project is that we moved house in the middle of it, and also had to clear out my parents’ house ready for sale.

I have posted occasionally about this, when I have made any progress on it, but now that it is finished I thought I’d collate all the photos and info into a single post.

Over thirty years ago I bought a beautiful knitted dress from a gallery and in recent years I was unable to wear it any longer because of all the weight I’d gained, but couldn’t bear to part with it, so I unravelled it and knitted it up again as a jumper. The yarn (pure Shetland 4-ply) had to be sorted, skeined, washed and wound into balls.

01 Unravelled Wool Being Skeined

The skeins hanging to dry.

06 Skeins Drying

The wound skeins.

07 All the Colours

The patterns. I derived the graph patterns more or less from the design of the original dress, but arranged the charted designs according to my own preference, and bearing in mind that the sleeves of the jumper would be longer than the three-quarter length sleeves of the dress, I had to add some more colours. The sheet underneath is the basic design, and this had a few amendments during the course of the project, but basically all I did was draw a diagram of the basic shape of the jumper, with measurements, and calculated from a tension swatch how many stitches and rows I would need. When working the knitting, all I had to do, therefore, was keep the graph design correct and follow the visual instructions on the pattern. Since most of the shapes were basic squares, there was little point in charting out the whole design.

04 Pattern Montage

Beginning the knitting. In the background you can see my original Zentangle sketchbook. At this stage of the knitting, I have completed the bottom border of the front.

08 The Front Beginning

Working up the main body of the front, in the plain tan colour. I always work with a circular needle whenever possible, as it is a lot more comfortable; with regular needles, I’m always catching the blunt ends on things, and with the circular needle, the weight of the knitting is held in the lap and not by the arms, so it’s a lot less tiring. If you knit continuously on a circular needle, you end up with a tubular piece of knitting, but if you turn the work at the end of the row, like with regular needles, you end up with a flat piece. This is what I did.

09 The Front Cont 1

Approaching the top of the front, and beginning to work on the yoke pattern.

10 The Front Cont 2

Detail of the front hem border.

11 Front Hem Detail

This is what the knitting looks like on the reverse. When working in Fair Isle style (two colours going simultaneously across each row), most people strand the inactive yarn across the back approximately every five stitches, but I prefer to weave in at every stitch, as this gives a neater back, and with less likelihood of the strands catching on shirt buttons etc., when the garment is being worn.

12 Front Hem Reverse

The completed front of the jumper.

13 Front Completed

Detail of the front yoke.

14 Front Yoke Detail

Beginning to pick up stitches for the first sleeve. After the back was completed, I sewed the front and back together just at the shoulders, so that I could work on the sleeves. I picked up sufficient stitches at the top of the sleeve, and worked downwards, decreasing according to the chart I made, and ending the sleeves with a ribbed cuff. The entire sleeve is patterned.

15 Beginning the First Sleeve

Detail of picking up the stitches for the sleeve.

16 Beginning the First Sleeve Detail

Work in progress on the first sleeve. On the right, you can see the shape of the plain body of the garment. When the sleeve is complete, the first part of it is sewn into this piece, and then the sleeve seams and garment side seams are made up as normal. This is a square set-in sleeve; a design favoured in many ethnic clothes because it is easy to make, and with woven fabrics, there is little waste.

17 Early Progress on First Sleeve

Detail of work on the sleeve, where the decreasing begins.

18 Beginning Sleeve Decreasing

Further progress on the first sleeve.

19 Progress on First Sleeve

The first sleeve complete. This picture was taken on the conservatory floor of the bed and breakfast farm we stayed on when we were on holiday in the summer.

20 First Sleeve Complete

The completed jumper.

21 Finished Jumper

I always seem to have problems picking up a decent neck – either I have too many stiches, or I don’t have enough, and the finish is usually less than professional! It’s also the worst part of a project for me – I hate doing all the making up, and would love someone else to do it for me, leaving me the freedom to do the actual knitting! (Very Kaffe Fassett…)

Originally I made a double-thickness stocking stitch neck band, with a zig zag pattern in two shades of brown, but it would not lie flat and felt much too thick, so I took it off, and redid the band using the smaller needles (not circular, unfortunately) and three different colours in stripes.

22 Detail of Neck

I am pleased with the result this time around. My sister-in-law, whom we saw on Sunday, gave me a few pointers regarding picking up for a neck, including not casting off at the top of the back and front, but retaining the stitches on a stitch holder, and then just knitting on from those stitches, using smaller needles, and working in rib. Sounds like a plan to me!!

In my old age I’m afraid I’ve got rather lazy about blocking out. I find it difficult to kneel on the floor, leaning forward, for any length of time so blocking can be an extremely exhausting operation for me. Instead, I make up the garment, and then wash it and drape it over the airer to dry as flat as possible, and then steam press the garment through a cloth. I’ve never had any problems with that.

Here are some other detail shots.

23 Detail of Square Set Sleeve

When making the cuffs, I made them double length so that they could be turned back, and made the centre (fold) stripe with twice the number of rows:

24 Detail of Cuff

so that when turned back, its appearance is better:

25 Detail of Cuff Turned Back

26 Detail of Sleeve, Front Yoke and Neck

Hope you’ve enjoyed the design, construction and making of this project. I am very pleased with it now it is finished.

Some years ago I made a long tunic-top with a circles motif based on a Kaffe Fassett design, in purples and yellows. Like the knitted dress, this is now too small, and anyway I was never happy with the neckline, so that is the next one to unravel and start again! I just hope that this one doesn’t take two years to complete! (To see what that knitting looks like, have a look at my blog header, on the left.) The circles design is one of Kaffe Fassett’s but the rest is my own. I love that colour combo. Watch this space for progress on this new project.


  1. Wow, Shoshi, that jumper was worth persevering with, it's fabulous! And your charts on the graph paper took me back, I used to make up loads of my own patterns like that, including one with Celtic knot work for my hubby!
    I loved the beautiful album you showed in Post 3 too, what a work of art :-)
    I'm glad that you've all got through your health issues...please could you tell me what the advice was about nasal congestion, as I seem to have it permanently! Thanks.
    Thank you too for all the supportive comments on my blog, throughout the year....may 2015 be a good year for you,
    Hugs, LLJ 14 xx

  2. And this is the third post you mentioned! Found it! It must have taken you days to write all these! Wow, that seems like a very complicated knitting pattern! It turned out looking great. You've put so much work in it! I wouldn't have thought twice about taking that dress that no longer fit to the charity shop. You've managed to save not only the wool, but no doubt some memories along with it as well!

  3. Ah Shoshi a wonderful creation.. well done on all those stages :D
    Happy WOYWW and every blessing of the LORD for 2015, Shaz in Oz.x #15


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