KNITTING UPDATE: THE MARILYN SWEATER

I have lost count of how many times I have written this post. It suffices to say the photos were taken last spring!

I started knitting this jumper shortly before last Christmas (I mean 2017…) and finished it sometimes in early spring, after much unraveling and re-knitting. For some reason the proportions were just wrong for my body, so it needed several adaptations.

But let’s proceed orderly…

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The pattern is the retro-inspired Marilyn Sweater by Jenna Hurry (which I discovered on @ZoeSews feed, thanks Zoe!). It’s really hard now to remember exactly how it went, but one thing I’m sure of: I fell immediately in love with all the small details, the boat neck shaping, the three quarter sleeves – and dived straight in.

As I often do, I immediately jumped onto the Colourmart website to see if they had suitbale yarn to match the pattern. Very luckily, I stumbled into a wonderfully red cotton/merino yarn, which was absolutely perfect for a 3/4 sleeve jumper.

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The original yarn was in lace weight, I asked for it to be plied until it reached a DK weight

I’m going to take a very quick detour here, to explain how Colourmart works.

They specialise in supplying luxury deadstock yarns (mostly from Scottish and Italian mills), mainly cashmere and merino. The prices are extremely reasonable and the yarn quality unmatched… their DK Merino wool is my personal favourite, and came recommended by no other than the extremely prolific knitter Kate from Fabrickated.

There are certain drawbacks: you won’t find any snazzy variegated yarns, so dear to most indie designers. They stock a collection of very conservative colours, which will change on a seasonal basis and depending on what leftover stock they have found available (really hard to get your hands on any blacks or whites here). Their website is also not particularly user friendly and at first it will feel a bit overwhelming.

To balance it all out though, they have an excellent customer service and they really, really know what knitting is about. I aways make sure to run my yarn/gauge calculations by them before purchasing (and often I also share the pattern I have in mind, as they will be pretty straightforward if they think the yarn I have choosen is not suitable – and I have yet to prove them wrong!). This should explain why I can’t link the yarn I used: it’s no longer in stock and it might not come back. Sorry! I would definitely recommend a tour of their website though, as you will find some absolute gems.

Back to my Marilyn!

As per my usual knitting habits, I had pretty much the entire jumper knitted within a few weeks. Only to put it on for the very first time when I had all but the ends to weave in and realised it had several fit issues.

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Work in progress and at this stage entirely oblivious this was not going to fit.

I have no idea how this can happen pretty much every. single. time. I never, ever bother trying on a knitting project half way. I always trust that my gauge calculations and careful study of the pattern proportions means that it’s going to turn out exactly as I had planned.

Anyone else like me out there? I hope not, it’s a valley of tears.

So, after a quick consultation with my Knitting Master (or, as she insists to be called, “Mamma”), I realised that the waist shaping started about 3″ off my actual waist and that the sleeves were definitely too narrow. Luckily, to balance out my recklessness I am blessed with the persistance of the spider, relentlessly working at its web. I unravelled the sleeves and started over, removing all shaping and adding a few stitches all around the sleeve opening to give my biceps some wiggle room.

I was just about to unravel half the bodice when the Knitting Master explained I could just separate the bottom and top half of the bodice where I needed, knit until the piece was long enough and sew it back together – invisibly. Sounded suspiciously like witchcraft, but I bowed to her wisdom and followed the instructions meticulously. Below, a mini photographic how-to:

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Snip at the desired lenght and carefully unravel with the help of a blunt needle, picking up the stitches as you go. Place both sides on needles if you can, as it will help sewing it back together later. Choose the side you want to lenghten (in my case it made no difference) and knit until you’re happy with the new lenght.
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Kitchener stitch it back together. I find it much easier to do this stitch with the two halves set top and bottom, rather than back and front (like you see in most tutorials).

I am really very happy with how it turned out, and I have been wearing it lots in the past year.

The cotton/merino combination makes it the perfect weight for warm-but-not-yet-hot weather and it pairs beautifully with both jeans and more formal skirts. I wore it the following Christmas with my Wonderland Skirt (yet unblogged, sorry, but head over to my instagram to see a few more pics!) and I loved the outfit.

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Oh, and before I forget!

I had a little yarn leftover and the boat neck called for a matching beret.

I found the sweet (and free!) Classic French Beret Pattern by Erika Larner. The instructions are really easy and the hat comes together in a breeze. I even added the same motif from the sweater, because why the hell not!

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All in all I’m extremely pleased with the results, even though the sweater is far from perfect still. The back is a bit baggy and I feel I wanted the sleeves a smidge longer. But I’ll leave perfect to another day.

 

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