Knitting this jumper was like knitting with a woolly mammoth, and no, I don’t mean yarn from a woolly mammoth, I mean an actual woolly mammoth! Well, I’d imagine the two things are on a par difficulty-wise anyhow.
Earlier this year, Deramores launched a competition for bloggers, and with a shed load of yarn on offer for the lucky winner, I thought I’d take a punt (Spoiler: I didn’t finish in time to enter, story of my life, ha!). A group of established knitters and crocheters were tasked with setting some themes, and after pondering the virtues of rainbow colours, knitting without needles and large motifs, I decided to take up the ombré challenge.
Meredith from One Sheepish Girl explained that she’d selected ombré because she loved how the eye was drawn to a pop of colour on a basket she’d been working on (visit her blog for some lovely crochet basket inspiration). As a non-crocheter, I set about finding a knitting pattern that I thought would do this technique justice. Summer was just around the corner here in the UK, so I was looking for something with short sleeves that I wouldn’t have to wait until the nights have drawn in to wear. Browsing the t’interweb, I happened upon the Stylecraft 9051 sweater pattern. Simple (just stocking stitch with a bit of ribbing) and with a distinct summery vibe, it was the perfect canvas.
Recommended yarn was Stylecraft’s Eskimo Kisses and I purchased 3 skeins of Topaz and 2 skeins of White Opal, with the idea that I would blend seamlessly from one colour to the other around the boob region…..but I didn’t yet know how. A short Google later and I’d discovered ‘stranding’ – a way of knitting with two colours without having to repeatedly rejoin the yarn.
Knitting with this yarn was blummin’ hard! I like to be able to see my stitches clearly so I can count them on a whim to check I’m on track and I can see whether I’m supposed to be knitting or purling a rib stitch when I’ve momentarily been distracted by Eastenders. Neither of these things were straightforward with this yarn. The jumper knits up from the bottom and starts with 26 rows of 1-by-1 ribbing….which I ripped out 6 – 10 rows in and started again about a gazillion times because I reached the end of row and realised I’d finished on the wrong stitch. Normally, I’d just undo the stitches until I was sure I was back on track. You know a yarn is hard to work with when you decide to rip it all out instead.
I got there in the end though, and the rest of the jumper is eye-wateringly straightforward to knit. I decided to start moving from Topaz to White Opal at the start of the armhole shaping, and introduced a stitch or two of the new colour every few stitches over a total of 12 rows, gradually increasing the number of White Opal stitches each time. The top tip I learned here is to wrap the yarns over one another every 3 or so stitches – this prevents large loops of yarn (floats) forming on the back of the work, which can easily catch and pull.
I did something similar on the sleeves, starting with the Topaz yarn and introducing the new colour over 9 rows once the ribbing was done. I basically said a little prayer to the knitting Gods that this would match up with the main body of the jumper when it was all sewn together, and it did…kinda. Well, it could have been better, it could have been worse. I’m happy enough with it.
Crucially, did I end up with the look I was going for? Again, kinda. I thought it would look more like the dark colour was fading into the light colour, but actually, the effect is more of a solid stripe. I think perhaps to get a true ombré effect, a third colour is necessary, something between the two colours I used, so that one colour looks more like it’s blending into the other.
The jumper is also VERY SHORT. Now, I know cropped tops are in right now, but baring my midriff with gay abandon is not for me. If I don’t wave my arms around too much, this jumper just meets the top of my jeans, but I would have liked a little more coverage on my tum.
I’m currently working on version number two of this jumper, and I’m building in extra rows…many more extra rows. On version one, I stopped knitting the main body of the jumper when it was 31cm long, I think it needs another 10cm to make it truly wearable.
After all of my prancing around in the garden, I treated my jumper to a spot of lunch. En route to Ikea, we stopped off in Sutton and partook of a cheeky lunchtime Chinese at Mama Dumpling. This place does what it says on the tin, and I nommed away on some custard dumplings while a rousing power ballad soundtrack boomed away in the background. Perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea, but I had a blast – Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On, Leann Rimes’ How do I live?, Aerosmith’s I don’t Want to Miss a Thing, with a side helping of Enrique Iglesias offering to be my hero *swoon*.