Casting on for Christmas

At the turn of the year I made some knitting-related New Year resolutions (for the full list click here). One of these was to make a Christmas jumper. For several years running, as the Festive Season arrives, I’ve thought about how great it would be to have a really nice hand-knitted Christmas Jumper and promptly forgotten about it until the following year, when it’s far too late to do anything about it. With this in mind chose a pattern and ordered yarn a while ago. With social activities and trips out curtailed in the current lockdown, what better time to get started?

I found the Frosty’s Christmas pattern for a snowman jumper on the Drops Design website – one of thousands of the free patterns on the site, which also includes tutorials, hints and tips, an online shop and list of stockists.

Photo by Drops Design

It also has a yarn converter – all the Drops yarns are divided into groups: every pattern will recommend a yarn and provide alternative yarns – all yarns from that group can be used, sometimes using a double strand – the converter works out the weight/number of balls needed in your chosen yarn. That’s what I did. I fancied treating myself to something more luxurious than the 100% wool Drops Eskimo recommended but found that I could also knit this design using two strands of Drops Brushed Alpaca Silk (a 77% alpaca, 23% silk blend) so I bought that. This means that I’m also sticking to my “green” resolution to try and buy natural fibre yarns whenever possible.

The sweater is knitted in from the top down in stocking stitch, with raglan sleeves, constructed with separate front and back, rather than knitted in the round. It uses nice chunky needles (7mm) so it should take shape quite quickly. The details on the snowman’s face and the snowflakes are added afterwards. You have the option of knitting the snowman on the back too – you just don’t add the nose, scarf etc so you get the back view of him!

Now I’ve cast on the back and got started I’m really enjoying this. I did spend some time before I got to the snowman design rewinding the black and white yarns – the pattern only uses one ball of each and it is to be used double-stranded. The yarn is feather-light and super soft. I like the way it’s knitting up.

I’m really looking forward to wearing this at Christmas….and let’s face it we all need something to look forward to right now!

My newest sweater. Valdres in DROPS Karisma

I do love a big slouchy sweater at this time of year, with plenty of room for layers underneath when it gets cold. This was my most recent big project: the Valdres sweater from DROPS. – I took a break from it a few times to knit other things but kept going back to it. I like to start something like this early in the year, take regular breaks to do other things and work through the summer so it’s ready to wear in the winter, without having to hurry.

I found it in a magazine but the pattern is available free online on the DROPS website. I used the recommended DROPS Karisma yarn (100% wool DK) which was lovely to work with and feels quite soft against the skin compared with some pure wool yarns I’ve used. This was worked in the same main shade as the pattern illustration (Light Oak -77) but I used different contrasting colours (Dark Purple – 76, Cerise – 13, Blue turquoise – 60)

The sweater is knitted bottom up, in the round – Nordic style, and alternates colour work and texture patterns – perfect for people like me who hate sewing up. If you haven’t tried this construction before, there are three sections, knitted on circular needles: the body (large tube) and two sleeves (narrower tubes). The components are eventually combined on one large circular needle to work the yoke, decreasing to form a raglan, up to the neck (leaving out the underarm sections, which are sewn closed at the end) – love it.

I knitted it a size larger to accommodate t-shirts underneath. The only downsides were that the sleeves were quite long even though I’d shortened them to accommodate my short arms! – The pattern charts vary for the different sizes. Maybe I misread the pattern! Also the neck opening is quite large, so I usually wear a scarf with it – I have a cerise one that is perfect! You also need to make sure that the colour work sections are not worked too tight – the pattern recommends using a larger needle size to overcome this.

It was fun to make, once I got the hang of reading the the colour and texture pattern charts. It really kept me engaged as it changed from colour to texture. That also provided plenty of milestones along the way to look forward to (my heart sinks when a pattern tells you to continue straight for 40cm!). As I like to take my knitting out and about, I found the body got quite bulky to carry round as it grew, so I started a sleeve for knitting on the go – much more portable!

I’ve worn it loads, getting a lot of compliments which always feels good!

Do you have a new favourite sweater?