Last I wrote about my Bronwyn jumper, it was destined for the frog pond. With so many issues I couldn’t face ripping and reknitting the sleeves yet again, nor doing the calculations to make them fit the seamed yoke shaping, particularly not in a complex cable pattern. It took some time away for me to realise I couldn’t give up that close to finishing, so I put on my patternmaker hat, finished the sleeve maths and then the jumper itself, an exact year after casting on.
Most of my problems stemmed from the fact that this pattern was bottom-up and seamed. I really prefer working with seamless top-down patterns as they allow you to fit as you go, and tried to convert this pattern to top-down several times with no avail. I begrudgingly worked this from the bottom-up, but as I needed to change the pattern calculations as my gauge was different to the pattern, I found myself getting stuck on the sleeve shaping over and over again.
Not only was my gauge off, but the sleeves as written were so narrow as to restrict movement, at least in my chosen yarn. It was only after knitting and reknitting them 2-3 times that I found a size that suited and raglan shaping that worked with the existing neckline (that I had also reworked to fit the gauge and have a deeper underarm). The neck was still a little wide as drafted to I knitted an extra-long neckband (1.5″) to fill it in. Stylistically, I omitted the uneven split hem just so this garment will last longer in my wardrobe than that particular fashion.
My other issue (too short a body) was resolved in the blocking. Being superwash yarn, the jumper stretched lengthwise in the wash and I helped it out a little when drying to shape. Unfortunately the sleeves stretched out too – something I didn’t need!*
I’m glad I took the time to finish this garment as the end result is just beautiful. The cables are lovely to look at and texturally satisfying, and the possum-merino yarn itself is a soft, fluffy delight. If you weren’t aware, brushtail possums are native to Australia but a feral species in New Zealand, and culling them for yarn is part of sustainability efforts to preserve native flora and fauna.
The Zealana Rimu yarn has all the softness and springiness of merino wool with a fluffy halo almost like that of mohair, but with less defined strands. Possum is also an excellent insulator and far lighter than wool, so this jumper weighs a lot less than you’d expect. It was a luxurious knitting experience and I look forward to knitting with possum again, perhaps in their 80/20 merino/possum blend Heron. I’m not a big fan of expensive yarns but this is worth it in my opinion.
What I won’t be knitting again is a seamed, bottom-up jumper. The whole process is so frustrating for me that it takes the joy out of knitting, and why knit something that isn’t fun? It even shits me that the sleeves are a little too long and I can’t just frog back and fix them.** I’ll get some wear out of this jumper, but my next project will most certainly be top-down!
Edit 18/07/18: I reknit the neckband on this jumper to bring it in a little. Read more here!
Pattern: Bronwyn by Melissa Wehrle (my Ravelry notes)
Pattern details: “Traditional Aran elements get a contemporary lift from a vented hi-lo hem with double-deep ribbing at the back. Bronwyn is chock full of knitterly details: circular construction gives way to a seamed raglan yoke for added structure, tubular ribbing ensures durability and elasticity at the edges, and the cable motifs are thoughtfully aligned to help you memorize the pattern and avoid miscrosses. The fit is slightly oversized with a straight torso balanced by narrow sleeves; choose a size that will allow for movement over your hips.” Available from Wool People Vol. 10.
Yarn: 1331.2m Zealana Performa Rimu DK in Natural.
Needles: 3.75mm for tubular cast on foundation rows, 4mm for ribbing, 4.5mm for rest.
Mods: Different gauge (16.5 sts & 25.5 rows / 4” in stockinette) with altered stitch count.
– Worked body in one piece (no split hem) for a total body depth of 24” from back neck
– Stockinette panels between cable charts
– Slightly deeper yoke with own raglan shaping to match neck st count and new sleeve shaping
– Wider sleeves (about 9-10” width in wrist and 13+“ in bicep)
– Used long tail CO (knits) and twisted German CO (purls) for sleeve and regular cast off for neckband as tubular stretched out too quickly
– 1.5″ long neckband (more details in Ravelry notes)
*Clara Parkes explains why in her excellent Knitter’s Book of Yarn: “Perhaps the most important drawback of the superwash process, however, has to do with stretching. Since the fibers lack the scales that normally help hold everything together, some superwash wools can stretch dramatically with washing. (And because it’s superwash, you can’t just toss it in the washing machine to shrink it.) Your best course of action is to buy a single skein of yarn and knit a sizable swatch with it. Wash the swatch and let it hang dry. Hanging handknits is normally a no-no, but in this case we want to induce stretching to see just how far it goes.”
**If this was plain stockinette I could snip a thread just above where I wanted the new ribbing to begin on the sleeve, painstakingly pull back and knit in the opposite direction to which the garment was originally created. But as this is patterned, the demarcation line between the opposing directions of knitting would be painfully obvious (the 1/2 st offset becomes indistinguishable in stockinette, almost like a visual illusion).