For the past six months I’ve been designing a collection. I have developed the ideas for six garments and six accessories, made swatches, knit prototypes, re-knit prototypes, re-knit again; drawn charts, produced grading spreadsheets, written patterns, re-written patterns, written patterns once again; edited the patterns, styled the designs, and, finally, modelled them myself. I’ve by no means been alone in these endeavours: Mel works alongside me at every stage and her creative input and her superlative knitting skills are both completely invaluable parts of my process. I simply could not do what I do without her. Then there is Tom – who shoots the photographs, draws schematics and puts together individual pattern layouts – and the skills and expertise of my two tech editors play a completely essential role as we consider the group of patterns as a whole as well as individually. . . and all of this happens before we even start to think about releasing the patterns as part of a club, or putting them together into book form. Creating the West Highland Way collection has been lots of fun (and I think this shows in the finished group of patterns), but it also is quite a lot of work.
Often, when I’ve finished work on a collection, I get a yen to knit something completely different. Sometimes that something is a hat, sometimes it is a garment. This collection has involved quite a lot of fine-gauge knitting for me – including one really epic project that took several months of work. I was determined to get this project right, and I’m now very pleased with it, but, having completed it, I was definitely needing to work on something speedy and satisfying at a much larger gauge.
I had an idea for a cropped jumper to go with my new skirt (each year I treat myself to a single piece from Cabbages and Roses). I knew that the Islay shade of Buachaille would look fantastic with the skirt, and thought I could knit a cropped jumper pretty quickly if I worked with two strands of yarn held double. So I designed the jumper in a sitting and knit it over four days – a very quick project for me! The results were pleasing: I liked what I’d knitted so much I decided to knit another, in a different colour . . . and now, it seems, I’m working on a third. Right now, for me, this jumper feels like the perfect winter garment . . . I’m not sure three will be enough?
Anyway, I was wearing the original jumper yesterday when we went out for our local boxing day walk. I had not intended to take any pictures of the jumper or anything – but Tom had his camera with him (like he always does) – and the light and conditions were – not to put too fine a point on it – bloody extraordinary.
So I took off my coat and we took some pictures of my boxing day outfit.
Hold on Tom . . .here comes a swan! Like we needed something else to complete this crazy technicolour winter scene!
Would you like to know more about the jumper?
It is a super simple stockinette knit, worked from the bottom up at 3.5 stitches to the inch, cropped in the body, with a cosy roll neck.
The key to the whole garment is the yoke shaping, which is calculated to allow all the stitches to be decreased away from the body over the full depth from underarm to shoulder. No stitches are decreased from the sleeves at all – they simply transform themselves into the neck at the appropriate point. Because of the way the shaping works, the garment hangs, slightly bell-like, from the shoulders, creating a neat early 1960s sort of silhouette.
The other important factor to this garment fitting and sitting correctly is ease: I’m wearing the jumper here with five inches of ease at the bust, and I don’t think the straight lines of the garment would hang so well with too much less than that.
This amount of ease means that it is straightforward to fit a few layers underneath . .
. . .and that the jumper is supremely comfortable to wear.
So this is my boxing day jumper!
I know that showing it here means that I now have to write a pattern. . . . can I have a couple of days off first, please?
My best festive wishes to you all! xx