As a chunky knit fan, I'm always excited to try different brands to see how the yarn works up, how they word their patterns, and how squishy the fibres are. I've spent a lot on kits and supplies from Wool And The Gang and pure pencil roving from various yarn suppliers based in the UK.
We Are Knitters are trying to “change the world, one stitch at a time” and have a variety of kits for knitters, knotters, crocheters and petit pointers in recycled packaging, from sustainable fibres, with 100% natural beechwood needles. They sent me the Nolita Sweater to try, in Dark Spotted Grey (a new shade!), and I thought that this would be the perfect way to kick-start my New Year’s Knitting Resolution! It is always cold enough to wear a chunky knit in London, and I love nothing more than to snuggle up with a soft and squishy jumper and a hot cup of Peppermint Tea.
The other great thing about my New Year's Knitting Resolution is the satisfaction I get from wearing something I have knitted. The Slow Fashion Movement is working to show the world the true cost of fashion, and to raise awareness about garments produced in a sustainable and ethical way.
The kit comes with everything you need: needles, 5 balls of The Wool, a gorgeous 100% Alpaca (or 6, depending on your size), a sewing needle, pattern and We Are Knitters tag, all packaged in a recycled paper bag. I have two cats, and one is ABSOLUTELY OBSESSED with the smell of yarn, so as soon as I opened the box he jumped right in. He also likes to attack giant balls of wool (gah…!) and jump into paper bags that smell like yarn, so everything woolly is on total lockdown in my house.
First: read the pattern. Read it again. Resist the urge to cast on until you know what is going on with the pattern.
Second: choose your size. I am a UK 10, so went for the medium size. This felt a bit risky, I have broad shoulders and don't want to look like the Michelin Man in my new sweater, and knew I didn't want to frog and start again if it came out too small.
Third: cast on! Now, I'm not a fan of seaming things or weaving in ends, so I converted this pattern to knit it in the round. This is totally unnecessary but is just my personal preference, and it also saves on the extra yarn used up on the selvedge and sewing which is a bonus. I knitted in the round from the hem up to the underarm spot, then knitted the front and back flat. I contemplated grafting the shoulder stitches together for a seamless finish, but decided against it because the should seam will reinforce the sweater and help it to not stretch and sag. This is the perfect time to try on your body and make any adjustments.
Fourth: I went a bit rogue here and did the neckline now. I picked up the neckline stitches in the round and knitted away. Things are getting a bit heavy at this stage and a bit of a shoulder workout.
Fifth: It’s time to work the sleeves! I knitted these two-at-a-time and seamlessly, from the cuff up. I really like making sleeves (or any pairs of things for that matter) that way, because it means you get identical pairs. Feeling a bit stressed one day and relaxed the next? Your tension might change slightly, so you might end up with one tight sleeve and one looser sleeve. Imagine. That's the type of thing that could drive you to frog a project after a few wears… anyway, cast off loosely (so it doesn't shorten the armscye) and then sew it into the body.
Six: weave in those pesky ends. This is probably one of my least favourite things to do, especially with chunky yarn, because it is tricky to hide the ends. I always try to start a new ball of yarn at the end of a row, so I can hide the ends in the seams. For this jumper, I tried a new technique and spliced the ends together. This was one of those “a-ha” moments you have in life where suddenly you're thinking “WHHHY did I not start doing this sooner???”
Seven: Celebrate! Wear your jumper. Snuggle up on the sofa with a cup of tea. Start a new project. I'm notoriously bad at blocking projects, especially big knits. A few shakes and she’s good to go!