A slighty odd name, right? But Knitty liked it anyway and it’s up with the new Winter 2016 issue. Hooray! I’ve loved Knitty my entire knitting career, and I’m so glad they like my work too. This pattern really helped me to grow as a designer and pattern maker—I do think of it as my masterpiece.
As I wrote for the pattern notes, this sweater began as an experiment: could I create a sweater with an all over pattern in stranded colorwork, which I love, without steeking, which I do not?
Skipping the steeking means that I could choose this soft and delicious yarn, in a fiber that is springy enough to make all the stitches look great and comes in so many wonderful colors. Gems is aptly named—it is a gem of a fiber.
The quest began when I discovered some great geometric patterns in the pages of an old book. I’m not sure what they were meant to be, the book is incomplete and written in a language that I don’t read, but I fell in love with the strong graphic quality of those old charts.
To make the project a bit easier—I chose a design (no. 429) that did not require much float trapping. I also created a smaller variation of that pattern that would be tolerable to purl on the reverse side. An extra bonus is that it’s easy to memorize.
So I’ve got some helpful hints—that will hopefully show how uncomplicated this pattern really is. And thanks to the most excellent tech editor, Ashley, it will also be a whole lot of fun.
I meant the design to be a bit oversized. On me, in the photos, it looks rather fitted. So I must come clean and tell you that I started Weight Watcher’s at about the same time that I started designing and knitting the sweater. I was overly optimistic about the speed of my weight loss goals. On the Plus Side (see what I did there?), know that the range of sizes is extensive enough so that the knitter can choose a size with lots or little ease, and it will look great. Dropped shoulders also make it easier to fit and knit.
There was also the small matter of a broken finger which completely derailed my summer gardening and cycling. And knitting. Ouch!
I can’t recommend Louet Gems Fine/Sport Weight enough. The yarn needs to be nice and springy and I’ll always go for a fiber this soft. This yarn is also superwash, though to be honest, I rarely put my hand knits in the washing machine, but its nice to know that the finished garment will not felt or shrink. Gems comes in so many color combinations. I also considered these colors and think there are at least a million more.
How to Work Stranded Knitting (a.k.a. Fair Isle)
I could write about this all day—but a little YouTube and blog searches will explain and demonstrate it much better. I carry a color in each hand, using the background color in my right hand (throwing it English style), and the foreground color in my left hand (picking it Continental style). But there are also these great little yarn guides to try. Look it up and try the different methods when you swatch.
That’s right. Do a swatch. You won’t be sorry. Swatchless knitters—whether feckless or crazy optimistic, that’s where choosing the right size to knit can go all to wrong. Knitting without a swatch is a trapeze act without a net!
When you work Stranded Knitting, the colors that are not being used “float” behind the stitches that are in play. Those strands are called floats. If they travel too far or get too tight, they can get ungainly and pull in your work, so you must trap them to keep them shorter. At this gauge, if a color was more than 5 stitches in a row, I trapped the other color. Again, an internet search is so very helpful.
Working Stranded Knitting on the Wrong Side
Not too hard and I’ve kept the pattern complications to a minimum. Purl instead of knit—it’s really that easy.
I do hope you try this pattern–do let me know if you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear!