My May Makes 1: The River sweater (and a little autobiographical note)

Back when I wrote about my March makes, I mentioned (amongst many others), the River sweater by Cecily Glowik McDonald for Quince and Co.  How can I put this? – it’s going really well, and the purple theme continues!

River1 River2I’m enjoying this jumper.  It’s full of plain rows but is progressing far too quickly for boredom to set in – but ask me later, when I’m knitting the sleeves! 😉  It’s another top-down treat, so the added interest comes from that.  And I have a startling shortage of cotton tops with sleeves.

The instructions are fabulous and beautifully written too.  It’s a very trustworthy pattern and I found myself wishing I wasn’t on a yarn diet; I’d like more of this in my life!  The yarn I’m using is Rowan All Seasons Cotton in Dark Violet, stashed when the shade was first released for fear it would be discontinued alarmingly quickly.  (It’s been known to happen, put it that way…)  All Seasons has been a favourite of mine for years because it’s a quick knit and so easy to wear and look after.  I have four garments in this yarn: Bianca sweater from Whisper, Kit jacket from Breeze, Edgy cardigan from Spirit and Jacqueline cardigan from Honey.  Yes, they are all Kim Hargreaves designs.  Bite me 😛

The nicest surprise about this jumper was that lifted increases are specified in the raglan shaping instructions.  They’re relatively rare in commercial patterns, but I like the technique and it triggers a little memory for me.

SewingBible1Sometime in my late teens, I discovered this gem of a book.  It belonged to my late grandmother (incidentally, my grand-aunt also has a copy), and when my resurgent interest in knitting was firing on all cylinders I set myself the task of working through the techniques listed in the knitting chapter – at least, the ones I could teach myself at the time.  When I came to the lifted increases, I noticed that they altered the tension of the fabric in a way that the previous two techniques (kfb and M1) didn’t.  Although M1 is a stone’s throw away inasmuch as you pull up and knit into the connecting strand between two stitches, Kup1 (as denoted in the book) was on a different level, in more ways than one.  Picking up and knitting into one leg of the stitch below created a more 3D effect, whereas the other increases thus far were relatively if not completely flat.

This little discovery birthed a brainwave: this increase would be perfect for the thumb gusset of a glove or mitten!  The pouchy pouffiness looked as though it’d nestle nicely around the fleshy mount of a thumb.  I’d been practicing on Rowan Big Wool back then, so the effect was magnified and gratifyingly quick.  And, of course, Big Wool was one hell of a lot cheaper.  It cost absolutely no more than £6 at the time, and with Big Wool nowadays you’re lucky if you can buy a finger of Fudge with change from a tenner.  Have a read of this post from Louise Scollay, aka KnitBritish, for more on this subject.  But I digress…

MayaMittenPatternSnapKeen to test this out, I found a now ancient copy of Rowan’s The Bigger Picture and looked at the mitten pattern therein to get an idea of what to do.  The Reader’s Digest book had DPNs and I was nowhere near up for using them!  Technically, I worked out what was going on and drafted a little mitten pattern, subbing the original shaping instructions for lifted increases.  I couldn’t wait to see how it worked out.                                       *pause*
It worked out pretty well!  And of course I interrupted my writing of this post to see if I could find a sample to show you (ha! – was I a designer back then?  NO), but I only managed to find my draft, immediately to the left here.  Ah well.  And the world was different then: there were no camera phones or tablets on which to take a quick, convenient snap.  Two things to say here though: the experiment resulted in a present for a good friend of mine (you can see the pattern is named after her in the photo – love it when alliteration works serendipitously!), and if she still has the orange mittens I made for her (Big Wool Pip, just in case anyone’s curious) I’ll try to get a photo from her and update the post.  Or I could just reknit them.  Well, let’s see which one happens first, shall we…?!

Second, that fact reminds me that in 2015 have cameras built into every gadget, and I can use that to show you lifted increases in action.  These were taken late at night, but you can see the stitch definition well enough to note the puffiness around the raglan axis:

LiftedIncs1 LiftedIncs2







Going back to the point about 3D and sculpture, I anticipate a very well-fitting raglan yoke when this jumper is complete. Tiny detail, but these always get my juices going.  With knitting, it’s easy to default to preferred, habitual or easy techniques: you’re relaxed, convenience rules, you’re more bothered about the project itself, you’re focusing on the instructions – none of which are bad things – but sometimes little details like this make you think, or give you pause.  That’s what happened to me.

About the Reader’s Digest book: if you’re looking to add to your craft library, don’t have this book by birth, and are a keen crafter/maker, get it!  The back cover’s below if you want the ISBN.  Heaven knows if it’s still in print, but you should be able to get it second hand.  I still refer to it now, 10-15 years after discovering it.

SewingBible2 SewingBibleBarcodeEven if you’re not making a raglan jumper, it’s still handy to have another string to your bow in case you want to give your knitting a different look.  It takes all sorts, but if you ever plan to make a 3D knitted cactus, you could do a lot worse than work lifted increases when creating the base of the branches.  The sculpted effect will be worth it 😉

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