Wednesday, 9 June 2010

First Knitting blog!

This jumper is for me!  It is based on a pattern by Jane Ellison, in her book 'Knitting Noro'.  However, much as I love them, I can't afford Noro yarns - they are hand painted, in Japan, and absolutely gorgeous, but aspirational for most people.  I also have a certain ethical discomfort with spending alot of money on extravagantly beautiful yarns, when most charity/thrift shops have either lots of odd balls of unused yarn and/or knitwear that can be unravelled and re-knitted.  At the same time, I am aware of the cost to the environment of synthetic fibres, so like to buy new wool, or other natural fibres, whenever I can afford to.  (Especially as sheep farmers are struggling not just to sell their wool, but to get enough for it to even cover the cost of shearing!)

About 6 months ago the low-cost supermarket, Lidl, offered for sale some all-wool sock yarn at a ludicrously low price, so - I went slightly bonkers and bought lots of it!  Not that I intended to knit lots of socks (though I'm doing that, too) but I have long been in the habit of mixing finer yarns in combination to create thicker yarns of my own colour and texture choice - it's a bit like being able to 'paint' with yarn.  The sock yarn was marked as 'Machine washable', sadly this turned out not to be the case, as it felted easily, and it was withdrawn from sale, many purchasers choosing to return it for a refund. I decided to keep it, make what I could with it for myself, and wash the results carefully by hand - after all, it was pure wool, in lovely colours, and a little care would give me quality garments to keep for many years.

I have already made several jumpers, and only one has shrunk - spectacularly.  I made a cabled jumper for my husband, which turned out to be very difficult to dry in a small space! Since the wool in it had cost about as much as normal wool for a crop top would have cost, we decided to take the risk of washing it in the machine, accepting that it could well be a total loss.  It was. By the time it came out of the machine it was too small for my 2 year old granddaughter!

I am using 3 strands of the sock yarn knitted together on 5.5mm needles for this jumper, blending 5 different colourways to create a tweedy, subtle stripe.  I am, as I almost always do now, using circular needles (Knit Pro Symphonie) as they support the weight, instead of creating leverage on my slightly arthritic hands, and they mean that I can never lose one of them, no matter how disorganised I am, since they are attached to each other!  So far I have made the back and the left front, and sewn them together at the shoulder. I am now working the right front. It is all in garter stitch - very simple, but I love the texture, and the result is very warm (if a little bulky) as it has lots of air trapped in the fibres, like a duvet.

Further progress reports soon!