I could not wait to share this jumper with you all.
I started it in August, and worked on it very slowly and very mindfully throughout autumn and most of the winter. It came with me on at least six flights, four of which long hauls, and has been the knitted project I invested most on, both in terms of time and resources – but I thoroughly enjoyed every single minute knitting it, and praise every penny spent on the materials.
First and foremost: the pattern! It’s called Diesis and you can find it on issue 22 of Pom Pom Quarterly magazine.
First a moment to say my two cents about this magazine: it’s truly beautiful. Everything in the way it’s put together, from the quality of the paper to the thread binding, spell “care”. However, should you want to knit prjects from their publications, always make sure to check their errata corrige section on their website: often they don’t correct their paper pattern as they can’t reprint, and it’s not unusual to find several small mistakes in the instructions. This said, the patterns are truly beautiful. Modern, rich in both details and shapes, and with suble echoes of past fashion eras scattered here and there.
This one, the Diesis Jumper, stood out to me from the beginning. The colour blocking mixed with the striking black & white design, and the really interesting texture in both the ribbing and the main pattern looked absolutely delicious. For the first time I didn’t want to change anything, I wanted to make it exactly as it showed on the cover. The only way to be totally sure this happens is to abide religiously to the suggested yarn/gauge – which I realised was going to be a small investment as the (splendid) John Arbon Textile merino used for this pattern is not cheap. Or better, it’s not as much that is expensive as a yarn (considering it’s merino wool of superb quality), but rather that you need several balls due to the colour blocking, so a jumper that could have been made with 4 balls of yarn in monochrome, actually needed 8. Still, I knew this jumper was going to keep me busy for several months, and I factor the time spent knitting as “entertainment” so I knew that the investment would have paid off in the long run, especially with the expectations of getting to wear that beauty at the end of it all.
As I said, I wanted it to look exactly like in the magazine, and they mention that the model is wearing a size which would result in 2″ negatize ease. Now, this is the bit that gave me most trouble: I am a bust 34′ on a good day, and their smallest size is a 34.4″. I thought that I didn’t mind it a little boxier anyway and casted on. However, as I will explain in more details towards the end, this jumper ended up being much, much tighter than expected and in hindsight there is no way the model is wearing a 2″ negative ease jumper. I believe it’s 2″ positive ease (which means I should have casted on one size bigger), but by the time I realised it was too late. More on this later.
One thing I could spend hundreds of words on is how clever this pattern is. The complex black&white motif is a brilliant mixture of slipped stitches (vertical lines) and stripes (horizontal lines), with a row of garter stitch thrown in the mix to spice up the texture. Simple and extremely effective, PURE GENIUS. The pattern repeats on a 8x stitches matrix at its fullest, and all the areas that need shaping (the neck and the sleeves mostly) incorporate removing/adding stitches to keep the design proportional. This makes the yoke the hardest part to knit (it took me a couple of attempt, I found the short rows a little confusing at first), but after that it’s all a bliss of black and white rounds with the slipped stitches keeping the work interesting for both eyes and fingers.
Oh and before I forget: a very special brownie point for the pattern designer Alice Caetano! She created an online widget to try different colour blocking options for your Diesis! This gave me all the hearts eyes, even when I knew very well I was so in love with the original version I was not even going to consider other options. The only change I made to the colour combination is to swap the natural/beige for a “whiter” white. At any rate, you can find the widget here and it’s so much fun to use!
As I also mentioned in my Marilyn Sweater post, I have this annoying habit of dismissing the need to try projects on as you go. Once I am confident the yoke fits I just expect things to work out as I imagine them.
As soon as I had knitted the last stitch I put it on and realised it was much, much tighter than I wanted it to be. Especially considering I am now at my skinniest and I am likley to gain a few inces here and there, I was not at all convinced the jumper was a good fit. It was too short and I particularly agonised over the distortion of some of the vertical lines, which in my mind made the entire thing a write off. I uhmmed and sighed for a good couple of weeks, pondering whether to unrvel the entire thing and start over one size up, or to simply try and block it very aggressively. I’m definitely not a blocking expert though (I don’t even have a blocking mat), so I wasn’t at all sure blocking would have worked.
I kept mulling it over until one day, and aboslutely by chance, I ended up stumbling into the Wild and Wolly shop, run by Anna – a true ray of sunshine. Not only she has the sweetest, most welcoming shop, but she’s also an excellent shopkeeper. To condense a long chat in a brief couple of sentences, I exposed to her my dilemma, after telling her the story of my jumper and cheeckily asked her if I could visit again to show her my jumper and get some advice.
So I did, the next day. Anna was giving a knitting 101 lesson to a very lucky student who was just about to finish the coziest winter hat, but she very quickly remembered and asked me to show her the Diesis. After a couple of minutes of observation she reassured me the jumper was absolutely fine, there was no distortion and that she actually recommended some very gentle blocking as the finished product was pretty much ready to go. I guess a little of reassurance was all I needed because I beamed back at her from cloud nine. I still wanted it a little longer (which meant adding about 1″ 1/2 of black/white motif on both body and sleeve, since they are meant to line up), but that was oh so easy compared to having to re-knit the whole jumper! Thank you so much Anna for all your help with this!
So back on the plane we went, me and my Diesis, and between Austin and London there it was, perfectly finished and ready to be worn just in time to walk through a rainy day to meet my brother for lunch.
Never would I have thought I could have a garment that felt both of exceptional design standards and warm as a hug, but this is exactly it and I know we will be great pals for many, many years to come.