Monday, 15 March 2010

Huggy Jumper

I have just finished a jumper in chunky yarn that I started two weeks ago.  I saw the pattern on Mooncalf's blog - she had knitted it in a weekend.  Apart from looking good, the attraction was that it is knitted on a circular needle from the top down.  There are lots of evident advantages to knitting that way, but I have not much enjoyed previous experiences of knitting in the round.  This seemed a good opportunity to try again  - it wouldn't take very long and I could see if the advantages make it worthwhile.    

The pattern is the Oatmeal Pullover by Jane Richmond
also viewable on the Etsy website,  where the pattern is for sale.  (Although my finished jumper is recognisably the same pattern, she is obviously a lot slimmer than I am.)

The description there is: "This fitted pullover is knit from the top down and requires very little yarn. The body is generous in length featuring deep ribbing and raglan sleeve shaping. The 3/4 length sleeves require no shaping and are fitted to flatter. The entire garment is knit in the round and requires absolutely no seaming. Perfect for trying on as you go for that perfect fit."  

The pattern says that the pullover is designed with negative ease, for a very close fit, i.e. it is designed to be smaller than you are.  I decided that actually I would rather it was bigger than me.   

 I knit it in Sirdar Hug yarn (from Kemps Wool Shop, only 99p for a 50g ball). The recommended gauge for the yarn (on the ball band) is 13 stitches and 17 rows to 4 inches on 8 mm needles, and that is what I was getting in my test swatch.  The pattern is for a chunky yarn, but the gauge is looser, even though on smaller (6.5 mm) needles.  I was glad that Mooncalf had been there before me, because she said that "even on 8mm needles my gauge was a little tighter than that specified on the pattern", so I felt safer about using 8mm needles myself.

I calculated how many stitches I would need to make the finished jumper the same bust size as me ( to avoid the negative ease thing) and decided that I needed to knit the size 48 - this is at least 10 inches bigger than I would normally choose.   (The 48 in. size is designed to have a finished body circumference of 43 inches - the extra shrinkage down to my proper size is due to my tension being tighter than recommended.)

I also took Mooncalf's advice to add three extra rows to the yoke.  She found that the shallowness of the yoke pulled the neckline out sideways, whereas it is intended to be slightly square, and the 3 extra rows have made that work.  

I was a bit doubtful that it would turn out alright, being on the wrong size needles and in theory 3 sizes too big.  So it was especially useful to be able to try on while knitting.  And it is fine - a close fit, but not too small.

What's the verdict?  I definitely like the jumper - it's warm and soft  (although slightly draughty round the back of the neck - because the back and front are the same, the neckline is quite low at the back).  And there are some things about knitting top-down and in the round that I really like.
  • I hate sewing up, so it's wonderful to avoid that.   
  • I loved being able to try the jumper on as I was knitting.  (Of course, that's because it was knitted top down, as well as in the round.)   It did make a difference to the finished jumper - I was originally planning for the sleeves to be shorter, but didn't like the result. 
  • It's kind of geometrically satisfying to knit the whole garment at once, rather than  separate pieces.  
 On the other hand, I still find knitting on a circular needle unnatural.  My right hand has to hold the right needle as well as moving the yarn - on straight needles, the right needle is held under my arm.  So I feel all the time that there is an extra thing to do.  The fact that it was such a large diameter needle created problems too - the stitches on the wire tended to shrink so that they wouldn't slide easily back onto the needle.  I found that I had to stop frequently to shove the next batch of stitches back onto the needle from the wire.  Does anyone else have that problem, or is it just me?  It seems unavoidable, given the disparity between the diameter of the needle (8 mm) and the diameter of the wire (2mm?).  All the pushing and shoving slowed down the knitting.  It didn't help in keeping the stitches even, either.  On straight needles I can get into a rhythm (at least if it's a plain stitch like stocking stitch or rib) - that never happened.  I suspect that I would knit more evenly on straight needles, as well.

I'm still not sold on knitting in the round, so the experiment wasn't altogether a success.  But at least I have a nice jumper out of it.


  1. Lovely! I do think your modifications really improved the fit. It looks really good on you.

    Thanks for coming to my blog to let me know you'd knit this. It is so nice to know that I've been helpful.

    I don't find that my stitches 'shrink' when they're on the cable but my 8mm needles have quite a lumpy join between the cable and needle and it can be fiddly to get them over the join. Usually (on my Addi Turbo needles) I love knitting in the round because the next stitches just naturally feed themselves round and are always queueing up on my needle to be knitted.

  2. Thanks for the comment. Maybe I should try Addi Turbo needles? There are clear advantages to knitting in the round, so I feel a bit of Luddite saying that I can't do it. And you're right that in theory it should be faster, because you just go round and round and never have to break for the end of a row. Maybe I'll keep trying now and then, and hope that the penny drops eventually....


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