In January, I had grand ambitions of knitting five jumpers this year. I had the yarn all picked out, matched to patterns (or at least pattern ideas to be designed closer to the time), and ready to go. After a few false starts on one jumper, I ended up picking up the purple and white Drops Alaska yarn and making a cropped, drop-sleeve, boxy jumper with just a little colourwork to keep things interesting.
There’s quite a number of patterns out there for jumpers like the one I ended up making and there has been for years. I hadn’t felt the pull to make this style of jumper before I bought a very cheap version from Primark in a panic just before starting my first office job. Made out of yarn thinner than any lace I have in my stash, this jumper has amazing amounts of drape. It’s light enough that the excess fabric doesn’t feel like a burden. It was eye-opening.
When I cast on back at the end of January, I didn’t want a light drape-y jumper. I wanted warmth. Hot chocolate in jumper form. A jumper that was like a big hug when you put it on. I wanted comfort knitting – mostly in the round but maybe a row or two every once in a while that was more involved. Top-down jumpers can be tried on as you go, which is definitely a good thing when your pattern is a spreadsheet made over a series of weekday work lunches.
It’s a very simple jumper. It’s knit from the top down, with front and back knit separately to the armholes then in the round down to the hem. There’s some tricks I developed for the neckline, the shoulders and a few other parts. Being honest, the majority of them were to idiot-proof the jumper from myself. (Tired Catriona still managed to mess it up a few times.) I also spend a lot of time getting my colourwork not to jog. The lice pattern is surprisingly tough to fix this issue for, but it worked out.
The yarn deserves some particular praise. Drops Alaska is a worsted weight yarn which is thick but smooth. I found the colours had beautiful depth and contrast, while still not requiring me to alternate skeins. The colours stayed true in blocking (which was my biggest fear despite my swatch having no issue) and no colours bled.
I still kept realising that it could be better in this way or that and ripping it out then knitting it again. Then I hit a point where I was happy with it. It wasn’t perfect but I still found I was looking back at my work and thinking ‘that looks rather like I want it to’. It blocked like a dream too, normal stitches becoming smooth and sleek.
There is still elements I want to think about next time I knit this. The neckline is off by two stitches as apparently I can’t read when I’m too tired. It makes this first version unique, so I’m leaving it. I thought short row shaping at the hem would be too dramatic. I’m now quite tempted to give it a go. I wouldn’t want it to be too pronounced as I like the ‘ski’ jumper look and I don’t want my stripes disturbed. But a small adjustment? It doesn’t hurt to try. Similarly, a split hem wouldn’t be amiss here either, though I’m not yet sold on that.
I’ve already cast on my new jumper, which feels very spring like after the thick winter-beating warmth of this one. Leaving this one behind feels like leaving winter behind. The sun has started to shine even in Scotland, so it feels right to knit a spring jumper for the Spring. But what a lovely winter project it was.