Okay, so if you don’t know the song, that gif will make NO sense, but I couldn’t resist 😂 There literally can be no other title for this blog post of the Volt Sweater than DANGER, HIGH VOLTAGE ⚡️
I said at the start of last year that I wanted knitting to feature more in my creating. I was a knitter before I could sew, and I kind of missed the slower, more mindful process of knitting a garment. Sweaters, cardigans and hats used to be my items of choice, but I’ve now also branched out into mitts, a shawl, and even socks. Yep, I’m always cold, which probably fuels my love of knitting a fair bit. Nothing gives me more of a cosy feeling than a good ol’ knitted garment and in a way, I wish knitting was quicker (because I’m short on time), but actually – maybe I don’t, because I enjoy the slowness of it. I’m happy with it being slow-going. And I think I’m particularly slow, based on videos of other people knitting 🤔 My mum taught me to knit way before the digital age – I remember having a book with all the stitches explained, like a stitch-encyclopaedia. There was no googling anything – if you couldn’t understand the written instructions you were buggered. Now that I can watch videos online of other people knitting, it blows my mind a little bit 🤯
I never really knew that there were different methods of knitting – my mum taught me her way, and the things she knitted looked pretty good, so we were all cool. But now that I’m older, watching some people knit continental or those who are a ‘pickers’, I realised that I’m in fact a thrower, extremely slow and also pretty cack-handed over the whole process. But I end up with good enough results, and I’m too stuck in my ways to change now anyhow 😂 In my mind I’m still eighteen and not really a proper adult (so my age doesn’t actually bother me) but it’s things like this that really make it hit home that y’know what, I’m getting on. There are people in my office that are young enough to not know a life without a smartphone, don’t remember a time when characters in text messages were limited, and have no idea what dial-up internet was. If you wanted to listen to music on the move, you would have had a cassette walkman that you had to rewind. Phones were – shockingly – for calling people, and not much else. I blame that knitting book, reminding me that I’m from a time when a book was needed because that wonderful (🤔) thing called t’interwebs didn’t exist yet. Ah man, times have changed.
But, one thing has remained unchanged – my love of knitting. I love seeing knitters of all different ages and walks of life – if you’ve not heard the story of Brooklyn Boy Knits, well, go read it. It makes me happy. I enjoy sitting in the busy cafeteria at lunch with some music on, getting a few rows in while watching the London skyline (you gotta be quick to nab those chairs with a view though…)
On my lap for this particular pic was a hat for the husbeast, which has since been finished and is being worn 🤠
That’s one thing I think knitting has over sewing – it’s portable, and I can sit on the sofa (in my ‘housecoat’ 😂) with a snoring dog next to me, and happily while away a day click-clacking the needles.
This was the first jumper I knitted in a couple of years – the last one being my Peabody made with Brooklyn Tweed Shelter yarn in 2013… so, more than a ‘couple’ of years actually 😨 – the yarn was super pricey but 100% worth it. I want to knit something else with that yarn, but I haven’t decided what yet 🤔
But in the meantime, I’ve made this bad boy 👀 The one and only thing I bought for myself from the Spring 2019 Knitting and Stitching Show (okay, that’s a lie, I also bought a hank of sock yarn which is, as yet, unused) was a knitting pattern for a sweater. More specifically, the Volt Sweater from Sue Stratford Knits.
I saw the finished garment on display on her stand, and it caught my eye. Although I wasn’t keen on the colour scheme (grey is so not my thang) I knew that in loud colours it would totally be right up my street. Loud colours as in… 80’s colours. Maybe with some neon. I was thinking less Harry Potter, more Bowie.
WAY more Bowie, in fact. Loud and proud, just like the total legend he was. Not only did he collaborate on two of my most fave songs ever – Without You I’m Nothing (with Placebo) and Under Pressure (I shouldn’t have to tell you who this was, but meh: Queen) – but he was also the Goblin King in my fave film evaaaaaa – Labyrinth.
Obvs I spent ages choosing the colours for my version of the Volt – I knew I wanted to go super bright (and pink was always on the cards), so I stalked completed projects on Ravely for inspo. There’s quite a variation in colour themes, but still an awful lot of grey 👀
I decided first off that the volt should be pink – with either orange or yellow as the highlight – but then I couldn’t decide on the main colour for the body. I always pair pink with purple (my hair is a prime example of that) so it’s my natural go-to – but I feel that I really should break the tradition sometimes. I wear A LOT of purple, and there are people that work on the floor of my office that know me purely as the girl who is always wearing purple. No joke. So did I really want to knit another purple sweater? Well, yeah, turns out I did, because that’s the colour that I felt would look the best with the colours of the volt 🤷🏻♀️
Once I’d settled on pink-purple-yellow, I then had to try and find a yarn range that was not only the correct gauge but who also had all of the colours I wanted, and in the right shades too. No easy feat. As I was buying online, I didn’t want to take the risk of buying different colours from different ranges that might have slightly different gauges and/or feel and have the whole thing look a shambles. In the end, I went with – brace yourself for pronunciation here – Schachenmayr Merino Extrafine 120 from LoveCrafts (or LoveKnitting, as they were at the time I bought the yarn). One ball of pink (shade 00137 ‘Pink’), one of yellow (shade 0012 ‘Sonne’) and nine balls of purple (shade 00148 ‘Clematis’). I didn’t need nine in the end, but I can’t get out of the cautious habit of buying an extra one just in case. Of course, if it’s something mental like £20 a ball, then I for sure WON’T be dropping an extra twenty just for that peace of mind 🤑
The yarn arrived, and I was pretty excited to get back into the world of sweater-knitting after such a long break 🧶
I started off with twenty rows of ribbing rather than the stated twelve because I didn’t want to risk it being cropped – It looked kind short-ish in the picture, and cropped anything does not feature in my wardrobe. I do not want my belly let loose, ever. So extra ribbing was made, just in case.
After a few rows, the intarsia started – I’d never done it before, but figured it couldn’t be that hard… right? Well, yeah it’s pretty easy actually, so long as you remember to pick up the new colours from underneath the main colour (so they twist) to avoid the gaps where the colour changes. V important. On the back, that translates to looking like this:
I spent hours sitting in the armchair covered in a massive tangle of yarn. I haven’t yet figured out how I don’t get everything tangled – if you’ve got any pro tips on this please let me know!
The intarsia starts to get a bit complicated towards the middle – I was using two balls of purple at the same time but had only bought one ball of each of the pink and yellow. Right at the bottom of the bolt, there are a few rows where there are two sections of pink and three of purple on each row. That’s one more section for each colour than I had strands of yarn – so I started to carry the threads across the back to get to that extra section. I’m not an expert in stranded colourwork techniques though, and the whole thing looked pretty crap from the back and a bit distorted from the front 😩
Next time I came across a bit like that, I went with a different approach – I started knitting with the other end of the pink ball (which didn’t help the tangles situation, I tell ya). The knitting looked a hell of a lot better from the front though, and I cut the extra yarn as soon as I could.
When I got to the neckline, there were some decreases going on and they were right in the middle of some colour changes – I didn’t know which colour to use or how to tackle these. I took a guess… and ended up with two random yellow stitches amongst all the pink ones 🙄
I did consider going back and redoing it – because it was right on the front neckline in full view – but in my mind, I couldn’t figure out whether if I used the pink yarn it would look any different (because they were on a decrease) and I wasn’t going all that way back for something I wasn’t sure I could fix. So I left it, and I call it a ‘unique quirk’ 😂 It is annoying, though.
Once you’ve completed the (separate) front and back, the shoulders are joined with a three-needle bind-off; quite simple, and gives a pretty damn neat finish on the right side 👀
You then pick up the sleeves.
I was already way over the expected length of the sleeves by the time I got to the end of the pattern chart (although I didn’t use the recommended yarn so that may have been the reason), but even so, the sleeves felt really short at the stated length so I kept going. Turns out that was a good idea because they’re not actually that long. Strange, because I don’t consider myself to have particularly long arms 🤔
The last thing to be born is the neckline a 2 x 2 rib with an I-cord cast-off which I’ve never done before. It’s very time (and yarn) consuming but produces a nice edge. Like a cord, you might say 😂
Then you just have to seam the whole bloody thing at the sides… which I don’t mind so much, but I’d really rather knit in the round to avoid having to do it (and because it gives a smoother finish without lumpy seams). I don’t think intarsia works with knitting in the round though – I gave it some thought, and came to the conclusion that the back-and-forth motion is needed because if not, you’ll leave your working yarn at the end of a section and by the time you’ve worked your way around to the beginning of the row to pick it up again, it ain’t there because you left it at the end. Bit of a bummer, but hey ho 🤷🏻♀️
Sewing in the ends wasn’t enjoyable – usually, if I’m not using superwash wool I will splice ends together as I go so I don’t have to sew them in afterwards but this yarn was superwash so that technique wouldn’t work. The yarn was actually quite splitty too – it seemed to be spun quite loosely, and it was very easy to push your needle through the middle of it. It’s not itchy at all, which is a big win, but I’m not sure I’m so bowled over by it that I’d be in a rush to use it again.
The finished sweater is just a *smidge* too big, and the neck opening is WAY too wide for my liking – I even considered sewing it closed a bit at the edges. I have this weird… thing about necklines that are too wide. I will mostly wear a t-shirt under jumpers (kinda like how my Grandad always used to wear a vest under his shirts), and I HATE it when the neck of the jumper doesn’t fully cover the t-shirt and it peeks out a bit either side. It just looks so… messy. I don’t really know what that is all about, or what it means is up with my brain, but it bothers me. After knitting this sweater, I remember now that I’m a loose knitter and I either need to go down a needle size (or two) or down an actual size to end up with something that fits. This is probably in part due to my shoddy technique – who knows 🤔
While we were taking the photos for this (after I’d worn it to work a couple of times), the husbeast asked what was going on with the rib at the back. My response? I dunno, I can’t see it can I 🤦🏻♀️ I turn around to have a look and am immediately like HOLY SHITBISCUITS WHAT IS THAT 👀
Turns out that one of the rib stitches was dropped when I started the main body, and had begun unravelling itself 😱
I mean, I don’t even know how I missed it while I was knitting it, AND seaming it, AND wearing it 🤷🏻♀️ I managed to put it right, but had no way of securing it so I dug out some leftover yarn (ALWAYS KEEP YO’ LEFTOVERS) and tied it to the adjacent stitch. Not ideal, but it did the job and the Volt is now safe to wear without fear of it literally unravelling on my body.
(And yes, those are indeed my pink leopard Dawn Jeans you see in the photos. They make a badass outfit combo with the Volt Sweater 💪🏻)
Next on my needles is a pair of socks for the husbeast (I finally finished mine!!) and the sweater for him that I bought the yarn for about eight years ago 😂 Next on the list for me is a pattern that I literally bought earlier on this week and bumped straight to the top of the queue: Wool & Pine’s Sorrel sweater… LOOK AT THAT YOKE 👀
It’s knitted with one strand of sock yarn and one strand mohair held together… I’m not a fan of fuzzball sweaters so I think I’ll look for an alternative, but it’s definitely top of my list. Look at that amazingly shaped neck too – no t-shirt poking is gonna happen there 👀
How many of you guys are knitters as well as sewists? And what came first – the knitting or the sewing? If you’re a knitter, what’s on your needles right now?
Happy Sunday ✌🏻
On the blog next week – my toadstool print Deer and Doe Melilot shirt 🍄 Subscribe below to have it drop straight into your inbox 🙌🏻