My handmade jumper collection
My Mum taught me the basics of knitting as a child. She learnt from her mother and grandmother, and the skill has been passed down the generations. I’ve augmented those skills through a combination of YouTube videos and trial and error.
I turn to knitting regularly when I need a moment of calm; the repetitive motion of creating stitches takes my mind off whatever is worrying me. My day-to-day work is mostly intangible, so I enjoy the satisfaction of holding a physical object I have made, and even better that it’s something I can wear to stay warm and show my personality.
I’d forgotten until writing this quite how many jumpers and cardigans I have made! 2020 was a particularly prolific year, as with no musical engagements I spent the majority of my free time with my needles in hand.
There’s a list of patterns and materials at the end of this post should you wish to recreate any of these garments. If you’re not a knitter but are feeling inspired, please feel free to contact me on Instagram – I love talking about knitting and would be delighted to share tips and resources for getting started in this wonderful hobby.
1. Turquoise cardigan (2016)
This cardigan was made as a distraction from the stresses of my dissertation and final exams. I could often be found in the Victoria Rooms in Bristol (my ‘adopted’ department, despite not studying music) with my knitting in hand, chatting to the porters. While the fit isn’t perfect — the angle of the raglan sleeves is off so it slides off my shoulders — I will continue to keep and wear it until it falls apart, as it’s a nostalgic make.
2. Carbeth (2020)
This is my warmest jumper, made before I knew much about fibres and yarn weights. It’s too thick to wear except on the very coldest days here in the UK, but on those odd days I am very grateful for it. The yarn is single ply (a single strand with low twist) so is prone to breaking. After only a few wears it needed repair, and I learnt from a YouTube video how to make a knitted patch, which is come in handy on multiple occasions since.
3. Multicolour speckle (2020)
This is one of many examples where my inspiration came from the fibre and the colours, rather than the garment style or shape. I still adore the colours in this yarn, particularly the pops of neon yellow, but the neckline is higher than I’d like and the armholes are strangely baggy. I don’t think this is a reflection on the pattern designer — I have other jumpers made in their patterns that I really like — but I was inexperienced and didn’t know how to alter the fit to suit me. One day I’ll rip this back and re-knit it into a different style.
4. Stripes! (2020)
This was made as part of a knit-a-long, with tens of knitters around the world working on the same pattern at the same time. It was fun to see others’ colour combinations and progress, and that sense of collective fuelled me through the make — I knit this whole jumper in three weeks! I’ve since attempted a second version but got my gauge wrong and it came out enormous. I should revisit it as I enjoy this style and get a lot of wear out of it in the spring and autumn.
5. Stars and moons (2020)
This is the closest I have to a ‘Christmas’ jumper, as the cosy wool and stars make me feel festive. It’s adorned with small gold beads which are fiddly to apply but I think elevate this design to something really special. If there weren’t so many beautiful jumper patterns available I’d be tempted to make another!
6. Love note x 4 (2020–2021)
The Love Note is a cult pattern in the knitting community, and I understand why. The combination of mohair and wool makes for a snuggly but extraordinarily light fabric, and the loose gauge makes this a speedy knit. These are some of my most-worn jumpers, and I expect there will be more in my future.
7. Blue and white accidental marble (2021)
This was a moreish knit, as each row I knit revealed more of this beautiful marbled pattern, also known as ‘pooling’. It’s complete fluke that it turned out like this, as I was working with hand-dyed yarn and not alternating skeins (a technique you’re supposed to do to ensure even colour distribution). The shape doesn’t look particularly interesting in flat lay but the ruffly sleeves are fun to wear.
8. Cats! (2021)
It has cats on it, need I say more? As soon as I saw this pattern I knew I had to make it, and the beaded eye detailing and textured body stitches make this so much more than a novelty jumper pattern. This is a lightweight jumper which gets a lot of wear in spring and autumn. As I recall I didn’t enjoy knitting the colourwork as the yarn I chose was slippery and made it difficult to maintain tension, but now it’s complete I’m glad I persisted.
9. DIY pattern (2021)
Having had some hits and misses with pattern fitting I decided to have a go at making my own pattern. I forgot to take into account that cables draw stitches in, and therefore the sleeves are quite snug but still wearable. I like the tweedy flecks in this yarn.
10. Roosimine challenge (2022)
Roosimine is an Estonian technique which creates an embroidery-like woven texture on the outside of a garment. I first tried it on a pair of mittens — an ideal test project as they only took a few days to make — and I enjoyed it so much I upgraded to a full garment. This took a long time (3+ months) as the sleeves are patterned all the way to the cuff and the corrugated rib button bands are fiddly, but I think it was worth the time investment.
11. Gingham dream (under construction 🚧)
Why oh why oh why did I decide to make an all-over colour work sweater in fine yarn? Well I know why, it’s because I saw the promotional images of the pattern and I was hooked. This is not the most relaxing of makes as I have to concentrate to get the pattern and the floats (loops on the inside of the jumper) right, but I will finish it eventually and revel in its uniqueness.
Patterns and materials
- Pattern: Campside Cardi by Alicia Plummer. Yarn: Stylecraft Special DK in Petrol
- Pattern: Carbeth by Kate Davies. Yarn: Adriafil Cortina (discontinued)
- Pattern: Beauty School by Poison Grrls. Yarn: Qing Fibre High Twist BFL in Harajuku.
- Pattern: Joanie Boatneck by Poison Grrls. Yarn: Artyarns merino cloud in naval blues and chartreuse, Urth Yarns merino gradient set in magenta.
- Pattern: Astraeus by BadWolfGirlStudios. Yarn: Retrosaria Brusca in 5A and 10A.
- Pattern: Love Note by Tin Can Knits. Yellow: Artyarns merino cloud in chartreuse and Artyarns silk mohair in chartreuse. Red: Black Elephant sock and lace mohair in Moulin Rouge. Turquoise: Castle View yarns merino nylon (discontinued colour) and Isager silk mohair in 0 (undyed). Neon pink: Artyarns double mohair ombre in neon coral.
- Pattern: Flutter Buttshirt by Jessie Maed Designs. Yarn: Swans Island Ikat Watercolours in Indigo/Natural Ikat.
- Pattern: Mello Kitty by Casapinka. Yarn: Needle & Fred BFL sock in You’re Turning Violet, Coral Me Maybe, Tealing My Heart and Unicorn Poop (purchased as a kit)
- Pattern: Self drafted using Amy Herzog’s Ultimate Sweater Book. Yarn: Studio Donegal DK in Midnight Blue.
- Pattern: Seli Cardigan by Aleks Byrd. Yarn: The Yarn Co Cumbria Fingering in Derwentwater, Garthenor Preseli in Tilia and Raspberry (purchased as kit).
- Pattern: Gr8 Gingham Raglan by Jessie Maed Designs. Yarn: Artyarns merino cloud in Sunset and Mariana.