Thursday, 20 August 2015

Knitted: Backshore sweater

Finished jumper, hurrah!
Among previous (mis)adventures in knitting, I'd made only one attempt at a jumper, back in 2013. This resulted in a Purple Monstrosity of a (partial) sweater: too big, tons of horrible mistakes (holes!) in the fabric, cheap acrylic yarn that felt really soft and nice as a skein but turned plasticky and started to bobble while I knitted with it, etc etc. I unofficially gave up on it some time in ate 2013, officially abandoned it in March 2014 then eventually threw it away and sold off the remaining yarn at the end of last year. In the meantime, I retreated to scarves, socks and shawls as being much easier to knit and more likely to be successful. This year though, I found though that once I started to have some success with the slightly more complicated sock and shawl patterns I tried I felt suddenly a lot more enthusiastic about the possibility of trying to knit a jumper again. (My Nurmilintu shawl in particular was a big confidence booster for some reason, even though in fact there are loads of mistakes in the lace!)

Front and back views on Flossie. I don't know why the back hem is crooked, it isn't really.

Enter Backshore( Ravelry link). I actually don't really remember how or why I settled on making a one-colour version of a striped sweater pattern, out of all the million similar basic patterns that are on Ravelry. I am quite happy that I did though. It's a very straightforward sort of pattern, especially if you skip the stripes, it seems reasonably well-written to me (although I am not really experienced enough to say), and produced more or less exactly what I expected. I did have to learn a few more basic stitches as I worked through the pattern, but nothing proved especially difficult. I really like some of the little details on the sweater a lot as well, especially the woven stitch hem and cuff bands, though I have to admit I hadn't even really noticed that they were part of the pattern before I started knitting.

Woven stitch detail on the hem band
The one supremely useful lesson I learned from the Purple Monstrosity was this: buy better yarn! I didn't exactly go wild with the cost of my yarn but I did spend about half as much again as for my first jumper attempt. More importantly, though, I went for a fibre I thought I'd be much happier to work with and wear: a cotton merino blend, Drops Cotton Merino DK (in Storm Blue), which several previous knitters on Ravelry had used for this pattern. This turned out to be a very good choice. It was super easy to knit with, I had no problem at all getting gauge and I love the texture and feel of the fabric it produced.

Eyelet detail (totally intentional holes!) from the raglan "seam" and down the inner sleeve
My finished sweater is by no means perfect, although it's about a million times better than my last attempt. There is just one unintentional hole  in the fabric, happily enough hidden among intentional holes, but there are some patches where the stitching is uneven even after blocking. If I have a big complaint about the finished item, it's that I blindly followed the directions with regards to the sleeve length: the pattern has three quarter sleeves which is not my favourite sleeve length in a sweater. I should really have kept going and made full length sleeves as it turned out that I had plenty of yarn left over -- in fact, frustratingly, I have one entire skein untouched and more than half of a second skein unused. I am also not in love with the wide rolled neckline, and I'll be sure to pick patterns with more finished necklines in future.

Backshore sweater as modelled by yours truly

Fit-wise, I am quite happy with how it turned out. I wasn't really sure what size to choose and ended up knitting a size that is the same size as my bust, although actually I should have factored in that a sweater is a top layer rather than using my usual in-my-underwear measurements. That is less ease than the pattern creator envisaged I think, but works for me.

In conclusion: successful sweater is successful! I am fired by enthusiasm to make more jumpers now that I have managed to finish this one :D I am amazed how much I could accomplish by setting myself the goal of knitting at least a little bit every day. In total it took a month and a half to make the sweater, which I started as a summer project on 1 July, including a brief hiatus towards the end of July while I was feeling too ill to knit. It helps of course that I was using DK weight yarn and so I did get much more visible return for my knitting time compared to e.g. 4ply. Still, I really enjoyed taking daily photos for Instagram and actually being able to see so much progress from relatively little time spent knitting.

Next up on my needles: first, I have already cast on a scarf that my mum requested I make for her (and bought yarn for me to knit as well). It should be a quick little project because I've picked a very easy pattern and it's a super-chunky yarn. In fact, I'd be astonished if I don't end up finishing it this week. Second, though, I am planning my next sweater! I plan to start it September 1 and try to do the "a little every day" approach again, as it will hopefully be a good weight for late autumn, so it would be nice to have it ready to wear six or eight weeks later. For reasons, I also bought the yarn for a scarf, despite swearing up and down I wasn't going to make any more this year. /o\ So I have a whole knitting PLAN for the rest of the year, really.


  1. Looks brill! If you don't like the length of the sleeves, then couldn't you lengthen them? If you can knit a sock...

    1. Thanks! I don't mind the sleeve length, I just don't LOVE it.