Monday, 19 January 2009

Knitting by numbers

I suspect that by now, you've all realised that I don't follow patterns too well. It's not that I can't follow a pattern, it's just that I just can't help improving on them, changing the construction or altering the fit. I can't think of a single thing I've knitted for ages (other than lace - which the thought of altering brings out a cold sweat) which hasn't been subject to some sort of meddling. However, in all of these projects, there has been an underlying pattern to follow (with the exception of a couple of pairs of mittens).

Now, however, I'm branching out in a big way... My Dad likes big warm chunky knitted jumpers in Shetland-type hard-wearing wool... My Dad has a birthday coming up... I found myself arranging with Mum to measure one of his better fitting jumpers on the sly so I can surprise him with a hand-knitted jumper on his birthday...

Here's the thing - Dad has a 56" chest (yes, you did read that correctly and no, it isn't a typo) and a long back and likes fairly traditional fisherman-style jumpers with a vertical rib . I didn't know where to start looking for a pattern that would accommodate these requirements without quite a bit of alteration so I'm just working from the numers, for the first time ever!

I bought the yarn (my choice of yarn - aran and Mum's choice of colour) from New Lanark which spins beautiful traditional wool and wool / silk yarns on a traditional spinning mule. I then picked a rib pattern which I think will work well (2x2 mistake rib) and knitted a big swatch (the biggest I've ever knitted at 7" x 8"), washed and blocked it out, let it dry then measured for gauge.

After that, it was just maths. 56 inches at 14 stitches / 4 inches indicated a round of 196 stitches. I'm going to work the body in the round to the armholes, then the sleeves in the round to the armholes, join them together onto one needle and work raglan shoulders and a V-neck. I think that this should fit well and the rib means that the jumper will not be sloppy on as it should pull in for a little negative ease without being too tight either.

NB the photo of the swatch doesn't look particularly like a rib, all I can say it that it looks much better in person.

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