How Knit Yourself A Christmas Jumper In A Month
The Debrief: Ok, technically you have less than a month now... but it's not like you've got any other plans, right?
‘Tis the season for overly complicated crafting projects! Home baked truffles, mason jars full of glitter and pine cones, popcorn wreaths and structurally compromised gingerbread houses. But why not take a break from the old routine this year and start a project that a. you’ll actually finish and b. will look amazing when you’re done?
I know a jumper sounds like an intimidating project but if you’ve ever knitted a scarf (or even a square) you can do this. It involves only 3 types of stitch, cost me less that £8 to make, and really is just a series of rectangles.
It’s quick, easy and I’ve even accompanied the instructions with viewing suggestions and nifty videos of me demonstrating the stitches in a voice that sounds like someone kicked Mickey Mouse in the balls.
1 pair of size 8 needles.
3 x 100g balls of size 8 wool.
Pins + a big sewing needle
As you can see from the photo this wool cost me less than £2 a ball and - while it may not be one of those £18+ balls that were clipped from the fleece of the golden ram by lubed up angels - it’s still nice wool. Don’t be afraid to buy cheap wool, just make sure it’s not fluffy, feathery or scratchy. If you’re worried about choosing wool ask the (inevitably) nice lady behind the counter or check the label for sizing.
I chose light wool because it’s easier to see your stitches and thick wool means the jumper will grow quickly. Which was especially important as (due to my own chronic time mis-management) I actually had to knit the whole jumper in a week.
I made a boxy jumper because it’s easier but also I’ve been admiring all the square shaped jumpers clogging up AW15 (The White Pepper collection is especially lust-worthy) and this is the closest I’ll come to owning one.
Aaaaand knitting something square-shaped meant I could just measure it against my own body and stop knitting when I thought it was big enough.
I made a generous UK size 10 and if you want to go off my sizing just add two stitches for each size up, e.g. 40 stitches for a size 10 becomes 42 for size 12, 44 for size 14, 46 for size 16, etc I’ve also included these numbers in brackets after mine, up to size 22.
Knitting the back
The first step is casting on and here’s one of the promised videos, please ignore how awful my voice sounds, apparently when I concentrate I sound like Violet Bucket on Helium:
To work out how wide the back should be just keep casting on stitches until it’s about 1 inch shorter than you want it to be (once you start knitting it will get wider). Or if you’re following my sizing cast on 40 [42 44 46 48 50 52] stitches.
Once you’ve cast on knit until the back is long enough, for me this was when the knitting stretched from the top of my shoulders to the top of my hips.
Here’s another audio-visual delight from yours truly on how to knit:
When it’s long enough cast off all your stitches, and that's it!
Estimated time taken to knit: binge watching Master on None on a hungover Sunday.
Knitting the front
Cast on the same number of stitches, knit it the same length (you can measure it against the back or count the rows). Then, when it's the same length as the back, cast off and get cracking on the sleeves.
Estimated time taken to knit: catching up on the new series of The Walking Dead.
Knitting the sleeves
Cast on as many stitches as you need to reach between your thumb and little finger when your hand is wide open. For me this was 20 [22 24 26 28 30 32] stitches.
Knit 4 rows and then on the 5th row add a stitch on each end. So if you’re doing the same size as me you’ll now have 22 [24 26 28 30 32 34] stitches instead of 20.
Here’s how to add a stitch at the start of your row:
And at the end:
Now do this 4 more times (knit 4 rows and then increase on both ends of the 5th row), so you now have 10 new stitches on your needles, making it 30 [32 34 36 38 40 42] stitches wide and 20 rows long.
Keep knitting without any further increasing until your sleeve is as long as you want it to be, then cast off and repeat for the 2nd sleeve.
Estimated knitting time: the first series of Utopia for both sleeves.
By now you should have 4 slightly wonky rectangles. Place them on an ironing board, put a damp tea towel on top and iron the individual pieces flat. This will make it easier to sew them together and iron out any kinks in the wool.
Start by pinning the front to the back along the shoulders, then make sure it fits over your head. You can always sew the shoulders more at the end but in the beginning it’s a good idea to make the neck fairly wide. The way I did this was to pin 10 stitches at both end for each shoulder and leave 20 stitches free in the middle.
Now pin your sleeves. Fold the first sleeve in half and pin the middle of the sleeve to the join between the back and the front. The rest of the sleeve will now hang down and you can pin the rest of it in place. Do the same with the other sleeve. Try it on again to check everything looks as it should, avoiding the pins.
When you’re happy sew it all together, turn the jumper inside out (so all the seams are hidden on the inside) and that’s it!
Pinning it first is a faff but it also helps you spot any mistakes e.g. missing neck-hole, pinning both sleeves to the same shoulder, etc.
Use the sewing to hide any mistakes you made while knitting e.g. if you accidentally added too many stitches on the sleeves now is the time to hide them.
When you’ve finished a seam thread the end of the wool back along the seam you just sewed. This will strengthen the seam and avoid massive knots.
And that’s it!
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