Published: 23 May 2019
Colourbox cardigan, 2018
I have often made mention of Jamieson & Smith’s Colourbox challenge. J & S staff choose eight of their jumperweight colours and yarn users (knitters or crocheters) have to use at least five of them to create something. The colours are deliberately chosen so that they will not be really easy to blend, and I always find they include shades I would not usually choose. It is good to be challenged and I usually knit a few small things – handwarmers or a hat – to find how I might use the colours to knit a bigger piece. It is always interesting to see what other people have created with these colours and you can find more photos on Jamieson & Smith's blog.
In 2018 I knitted this cardigan, using one of the cable and lace patterns from a Japanese knitting book. My copy of the book is in Japanese – I think there is an English version too - so I have to look carefully at the photos to figure out the symbols. For the main pattern (motif) I chose one of the several patterns I created in the 1960s to relieve the boredom of knitting traditional patterns in Fair Isle yokes.
I knitted the body to the armholes, with a steek at the centre front, then the sleeves, one at a time, up to the armholes. After putting stitches on hold for the underarms I put the remaining stitches together and continued to knit - on straight double pointed needles - decreasing where sleeves and body met, until it was time to put stitches on hold, firstly for the front neck, then the back neck. New steeks were needed for the neck area, and soon afterwards I put the last few sleeve stitches on hold and added two new steeks for the tops of the arm openings. Once I reached the shoulders it was time to cast off the steek stitches, and cut the steeks open before the shoulders were joined. The neck was knitted before the button and buttonhole bands. Finally the underarm and sleeve tops were grafted, steeks neatened, and whip stitched to the wrong side.
Shetland knitters have always dressed their knitwear, to make it fit for an appearance in public - it seems a more appropriate word than 'blocking'. For cardigans and jumpers, a jumperboard is an ideal for shaping and drying a newly washed item. A strong cotton thread pulled through the neck and, in this case, clothes pegs to pull the bottom mean that the garment is stretched in all directions. This evens out the knitting and gives a smooth piece of knitted fabric. Once it's dry and taken off the board, I usually steam the cuffs and hem.
I don’t need another cardigan so knitted this one with sleeves which are too long for me but should fit the ‘average’ person. It went to Loose Ends shop in Lerwick, waiting to find a new owner.
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Shetland is the most northerly group of Scottish islands. Apart from mainland Scotland, the other near neighbours are Norway to the east and the Faroe Islands to the north west.