Added Apr 2, 2011
London, United K...
This is actually the second time that I have made up this magazine pattern, based on the reprint in Jane Waller’s 1972 “A Stitch in Time”; the original specifies Sirdar ’Supreme" wool, which is obviously considered a chunky size by the standards of the day, and the first time I knitted it up I used a textured Aran-equivalent yarn, which was slightly too heavy.
I have always thought that it would be fun to try this pattern again (Made so Quickly! A Pet of a Jumper in Easy Knitting… Full puff sleeves and a V neck-line are most becoming) with a smooth wool in order to get the full benefit of the fancy ribbing on the main part of the body, so when I got hold of a job lot of vintage Sirdar ‘Pullman’ wool, which is what Jane Waller suggests as the 1970s equivalent for this jumper, I thought I’d take the opportunity.
The original pattern specifies 9oz of Supreme wool for the short-sleeved (illustrated here) version of the jumper; Jane Waller notes that ‘probably more than 9 ounces’ of Pullman will be required, which turned out to be the understatement of the century. My 20oz of green wool weren’t even enough to complete the short-sleeved version, never mind the full-length sleeves that I’d had visions of trying! As a result I had to incorporate elements of yellow into the design at a somewhat late stage, with mixed results – the horizontal stripes on the sleeves were successful, the V-shaped ‘necktie’ down the front less so.
The main problem, however, was that this so-highly-recommended Pullman wool (which turns out to be chunky-weight, i.e. double double knitting) came out clearly far, far too heavy for the pattern. I had to take the needles down by two sizes in order to achieve the tension specified – the original pattern expects No 3 needles, which really are pretty thick – and reduced the puff sleeves from 80 stitches (the same width as the body!) to 70 in order to avoid them balling up in my armpits. The resulting fabric doesn’t drape gracefully but tends to bulk out, so I also altered the pattern to reduce the body width by four stitches on either side: at a tension of 4.5 stitches to the inch, this equated to a reduction of a good two inches all round, which altered a loose fitting bustline to a relatively close one.
It was not until a late stage in the proceedings that it occurred to me that I had thereby also reduced the tight-fitting waistband by a whole two inches! At full stretch the welt would still fit around my measured waist, but I had visions of being unable to squeeze my shoulders through the garment in order to get it on….
In the event, I think the reduction was about right, though I wouldn’t have dared consciously to go for such an extreme close fit. These 1930s jumpers have a habit of stretching in wear and failing to ‘grip’ properly around the waist and hips; with chunky-weight wool knitted up on No 10 needles (the needles are actually finer than the wool itself!) the result is a strong elastic section that is not at all tight to wear in practice, and yet stretches enough to be removed easily. But I think the jumper must originally have been knitted in something closer to double-knitting-weight wool. It should fold gracefully at the waist and cuffs instead of bulging. Third time lucky perhaps? The pattern is actually very quick to knit by normal standards – I did the entire back section in three or four days, with by far the slowest being the welt – but I’m not sure I can face doing it yet again to get it right.
Meanwhile, Inigo-cat persisted in intruding himself into the photoshoot, which he clearly supposed to have been staged for his benefit…!
No 5 knitting needles for the body; No 10 needles for the welt and cuffs.
10 2-oz balls of Paton & Baldwin’s ‘Doublet’ (“double double knit”) in green for the main part and 3 2-oz balls of Sirdar ‘Pullman’ in yellow for the contrast sections.
Six ‘vintage’ (well, old) buttons from my button box.
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