One step forward, two steps back

A while ago I mentioned that in celebration of the amazing (for me anyway) feat of finishing two projects in one day I’d cast on two new projects, a pair of mittens and a sweater.

One of these projects has gone amazingly well (The mittens!  They’re finished and I love them, but it’s been so dark wet and gloomy here that all attempts at photos have been poor at best.) but seeing as it’s you, I’ll show you the best picture of a bad bunch:

Autumn Bloom Mitts

If you’re looking covetously at them, they’re called Autumn Bloom Mitts by Rachel Atkinson and they’re in the current issue of Knit Now (Issue 27).  If you fancy seeing some much better pictures, Rachel has written about them on her blog here.  More about the mitts next time, when I hope to have some better pictures to show you.

……….as for the other, well……. the least said about it the better, but this is a blog, so it doesn’t work like that.

I’ve had some lovely green Rowan Cocoon in my stash for about a couple of years now and as the weather was cooling off I thought it was time I put it to good use.

Originally I’d bought it to make this but then I changed my mind, because although it is beautiful, I’ve never really been sure about sleeveless jumpers.  Also there is no waist shaping and it is sized quite generously, two things which tend to result in me looking as if I’ve borrowed someone else’s clothes as I’m quite petite (so to make it work I would probably have to alter it a bit).

So after a bit of deliberating I decided to make an Owls sweater (by Kate Davies), a pattern which cannot have escaped your notice, unless you’ve been living under a knitted rock for the past few years.  It’s a fitted sweater, I’ve always wanted to make one and the world and his wife have made an Owls in Rowan Cocoon….. perfect!

Before I go any further I must stress that none of the problems I’ve had with this project are caused by the pattern, which is excellent.  All the issue are down to a) my fussiness, b) my yarn choice.

Diligently, I checked my tension (in the round – I want to do this properly).  I’m a tight knitter, so I wasn’t surprised when I got a tension of 16 sts and 20 rounds to 10cm (unblocked) on the recommended 6.5mm needle, so I went up to a 7mm needle and 14 sts and 19 rounds.

At this point I decided that although it was still a little tighter stitch wise than the recommended tension of 13 sts and 20 rows, I didn’t want a looser fabric, so I decided to make one size up from the size I would usually make.

Excitedly I cast on and the pattern just seemed to whizz by!  Looks ok doesn’t it?

Green Owls Sweater

Before I knew it I had completed the waist decreases and increases, but I was a little concerned at the fabric and how loose it was.  I checked my tension.  It was still just as I expected, 14 sts and 19 rounds.

If I’m honest I was a little baffled.  This tension gives a drapey fabric with a teeny little bit of stretch, not at all right for a close fitting jumper and quite likely to stretch out to shape over time.  Yet the recommended tension for this yarn is 14 sts and 18 rows on a 7mm needle (so slightly looser again on the rows – unsurprising as working in the round will tighten the row/round tension for most knitters as purl stitches tend to be slightly looser than knit stitches) so it’s not as if I was working at tension that was looser than recommended for the yarn.

Look at it!  it’s see through, even when it’s just stretched a little!

Green Owls Sweater

I checked several projects on Ravelry using Cocoon and none of them mentioned being the fabric being to loose, although some did mention it stretching out of shape after a few wears.

Then I tried the jumper on and although it fitted nicely it was clear that the fabric would be too open when stretched (Owls is meant to be knitted with some negative ease – meaning the jumper is supposed to be smaller than your actual measurements).  In a last desperate attempt to avoid frogging, I wet blocked a small section for comparison, it the hope that the yarn would ‘bloom’ a little and fill out the stitches.  Unfortunately, quite the opposite happened and the fabric just became more drapey and open.

I guess I’m being very fussy, but I decided to frog it 😦 I’ve now cast on for the next size up again and having checked that my tension will still produce a similar size, I’ve gone down to 6.5mm needle again.

Wish me luck!

Lottie x

P.S.  Do you fancy test knitting a simple cowl in DK or Aran?  If you have 100 – 200g of yarn in contrasting colours to hand (50 – 100g of each colour) lurking in your stash you’re on Ravelry, can take a reasonable photo of your work, and you liked the look of the mystery Noro thing here, you could be just the knitter(s) I’m looking for.  (Noro is not required, this is a stashbusting project perfect for Christmas gifts.)  If you think you might be interested, leave me a comment and keep you eyes peeled for a post next week.


13 thoughts on “One step forward, two steps back

    • Thank you! I’ve been wanting to make it for ages, so I won’t be defeated. If my second attempt doesn’t work out I have a back up yarn plan, but hopefully I won’t need it!

    • Oh I’m glad you like the green, it’s a shade called Kiwi and it really does look like the inside of a kiwi fruit! I’ve been wanting to make an Owls sweater for ages so I really want it to work this time 🙂 I’ve just looked up Idlewood on Ravelry an it’s lovely, I can see why you want to make it. I’m tempted by it myself now, but I mustn’t cast on another sweater!

  1. POPTASTIC! English of a sort for fantabulous, ooops sorry wonderful! Feeling a bit of envy really. I sew…..LOTS but cant knit for toffee as my blog atests to! This is soooo the season for beautiful knits. Grrrrr green eyed monster raises head! Top work with the mauve fancy patterned mitts, as we would say (Londoners). GAWJUS! 🙂

    • Thank you! I wish I could sew, but the sewing machine tends not to be very friendly towards me (it usually eats holes in my fabric or tangles the threads) and my hand sewing is painfully slow and not even enough (I have high standards!). I’m English too, but believe it or not I’ve never been to London!

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