Snow Day knitalong part one: gathering and swatching

I have been bowled over by the response to this pattern! Thank you all so much for your positive comments; it is a delight to read each and every one. I am beyond excited about the sheer number of people who have requested a copy, and so looking forward to seeing Snow Day jumpers popping up here, on Ravelry and on Instagram.

As the response is so big, can I ask you to be patient if your pattern doesn’t arrive immediately? Please give me 24 hours to send one out, and if you haven’t received one by then, just drop me a friendly email or a comment here and I’ll sort it out. Right, back to the knitalong…

Welcome to the first part of the Snow Day jumper knitalong! I’m so excited that you’re taking part, whether you’re an old hand or are newer to knitting.  The pattern specifically designed as a first jumper (sweater) pattern for newer knitters, with a little shaping for a flattering fit and a bit of texture for interest. If you’re new to the pattern and need convincing that you can knit this, read this post. The rest of us will wait right here for you.

Feeling more confident? Excellent! The next thing to do is to get your hands on the pattern, which is available entirely free from today until 31 October 2018. All you need to do is leave a comment (below), and I’ll email it to you as a PDF. Needless to say, your email address will only be visible to me, and I won’t use it to send you anything else at all. (Not even knitalong updates, which you might actually want. To receive email notifications of all my posts including those, sign up in the Join Our Community box in the sidebar/ near the bottom of your phone screen.)

Now that you’ve got the pattern, you’ll want to know a little bit more about the recommended yarn, and alternatives to this. Obviously I’ve knit this jumper twice, once in the recommended Drops Alaska, and once in my own handspun. Both were 100% wool, because it provides the structure and warmth that this pattern calls for. I ordered mine from here, and was very taken with both the mustard and dark turquoise colour ways. But my Drops version wasn’t intended for me, so I let Fliss choose the colour she liked the most. She chose the grey pink, which I must admit I wasn’t all that excited by in its balled state. Once I started to knit with it, though, it revealed all sorts of lovely marly qualities, with strands of yarn varying in colour from deep pink to purple to grey, with flecks of navy here and there. In the end, I liked it very much. Not all of their colours are mixed like this, but the ones that are are stunning.

I chose Drops for several reasons, the first and foremost being its affordability. I would really encourage you to knit this jumper with real wool, but some wool is really expensive. I’ve used Drops for several projects, including (but not limited to) Fliss’ Foxgloves cardigan, Seb’s Stars jumper, and Ben’s Big Softie. It washes and wears very well, and is a pleasure to work with.

However, I hope that the fact that I also made this in a wibbly-wobbly handspun gives you the confidence – particularly you more seasoned knitters – to go off and use whatever yarn you deem appropriate. Of course I can’t be responsible if it doesn’t turn out exactly like my Drops one. But that’s all part of the fun! I can’t wait to see what you choose, and how it turns out. You need an aran weight wool (17 stitches and 22 rows for a 10x10cm swatch).

As you’ll see, the pattern tells you how much yarn you’ll need for a hip-length jumper in your size. If you want to knit a longer jumper – and there’s no reason why you can’t, and this would be lovely as a tunic – order an extra ball or two of yarn. If in doubt, buy extra, as you can’t always get yarn from the same dye lot again, which is incredibly frustrating when you are four inches from the top of the second sleeve. Don’t ask me how I know that.

Once you’ve got your wool, you’ll need to determine what size needles to work with. Cast on using the size recommended on the ball band – 5mm for Drops Alaska. Work in stocking stitch as this is the main stitch used (knit 1 row, turn, purl next row) for 22 rows. This is enough to establish the width of your knitted swatch. Gently uncurl the edges and hold it flat, without stretching it at all. Measure the width. It should be 10cm almost exactly – you can see from the photo below that mine is.

But what if it isn’t? Not to worry. We all knit with different tension, and even needles purporting to be the same size can differ. All you do is go up a needle size (if your swatch was under 10cm), or down a size (if it was over 10cm).  Knit two rows (no purling) to create a garter stitch line across your swatch. It should now look like the photo below (see that row of purl stitches at the very top?).

Carry on in stocking stitch again, until you’ve done another 22 rows and can measure your swatch again. Keep adjusting your needle size until your swatch measures 10 cm across. Here you can see that by changing to 6mm needles, my 17 stitches yielded over 11cm, instead of 10. Needle size makes a big difference.

 Don’t worry overly about how many rows you knit per 10cm, as long as you are in the right ballpark (22 rows per 10cm). The pattern will tell you how long each part needs to be, not how many rows to knit (apart from at the hem and neckline). The important thing is to use the right sized needles to be able to consistently knit 10cm across with 17 stitches. I used 4mm needles with my handspun, and 5mm needles with the Drops Alpaca. As you can see, wool varies. As long as your gauge is right, your jumper will fit.

You will also need a pair of needles 1mm smaller than the size you have decided upon. You don’t need to swatch with these needles, as they are just for the collar and hem. For example, because my larger needles (the ones I swatched for) are 5mm, I’m going to use 4mm needles every time the pattern calls for my smaller needles.

 You can cast off your swatch, wash and block it, if you like, but I must admit that I never do. Instead, I frog it, wind it back on the ball, and cast on again for the back.

Speaking of the back, that tutorial – including photos – will be available next week, same time, same place. Hopefully you’ll have gathered your wool and needles and made your swatch by then. If you have any questions at all, you can either post them in the comments below, or send me an email direct at mrscecilygraham@gmail.com. In the meantime, why not snap the odd photo of your parcel of wool arriving/ swatching in front of the fire/ general knitting love and send them to me so that I can include them in next week’s post? Alternatively, you can use the hashtag snowdayjumper on instagram, or add your photos to your Ravelry account. I look forward to seeing all the yarn that everyone chooses!

Madeleine

Who are you making your Snow Day for? And is it your first ever jumper pattern?

51 thoughts on “Snow Day knitalong part one: gathering and swatching”

  1. I love the elegant neckline on this sweater, and the bobbles make me smile. I would be thrilled to receive a link to the pattern. Thank you very much for sharing.

    1. I have to admit, I’m enjoying seeing two versions of it (my daughter’s and mine) being worn around the house. It’s nice to have tried it out in different colours and wools. Will you make both from the recommended yarn?

  2. Hi Madeleine,
    I’d love to have a copy of the pattern, please… and thank you so much for your generosity of sharing the pattern and its tutorial 🙂

    xx
    -Opi

  3. Hi I was just going to follow along on the blog and then I read your post saying “now that you have the pattern” and then thought “oh no! I don’t”. I would love a copy, this sweater is so pretty! Thank you!

  4. Hi,I would love the pattern! The neckline is my absolute favourite! I knit a jumper years ago ( which I wore last weekend!) but not one since . Looking forward to it and thank you so much for sharing x

    1. Thank you. That timing is really hard! Do you use the ‘nice cup of tea’ method? I do, to get started. Now I’m trying to speed it up.

      1. Oh goodness! The idea is that you play the first of the triplets and the first quaver/ eighth note on ‘nice’, then alternate between the two sets of notes for ‘cup of tea’. If you stick with the rhythm with which you say it naturally, it works (as long as you are playing slowly)! It’s really helped me learn them.

  5. Hi Madeleine, I’d love to have a copy of the pattern when you get a moment… no hurry though. Thanks very much for sharing it.

  6. Hi Madeleine, what a lovely jumper, I’d love to have the pattern. I think it looks particularly well in the fawn/neutral so I will copy you! Thank you very much. I’ve made a couple of things to my own pattern, I know how much work is involved, even though I’ve only made my own notes, much too vague for anyone else to understand!
    Thank you again, Julia

    1. Thanks! I always start with my own vague notes too, before writing them up for future reference and – this time – spelling everything out step by step. Let me know how you get on, and send me a photo of the finished article please!

  7. Congratulations, what a gorgeous design. I haven’t knitted anything for years but you have inspired me to dust off my knitting needles and have a go!
    Please send me the PDF.
    Good luck with all your ventures – you are going to be very successful.

  8. Congratulations Madeline! I can’t wait to start on this beautiful pattern so it may be finished by the time cold weather hits here in North Texas. Please email me the pdf. Thanks so much for your generosity.

    1. Thanks Katie! I bet it’s a lot warmer in Texas than it has been here recently… the cold weather has already arrived and I’ve been wearing my Snow Day all week.

  9. This looks like the ideal pattern for a “my first sweater” knitter. I think my niece would enjoy knitting this.
    With thanks

    1. Oh, good. Don’t forget that your niece can come back here for all five tutorials over the next few Fridays, if she gets stuck and you’re not around to help out. I hope she enjoys it!

  10. Hi Madeleine. Congratulations. I wish you many more successes to come. I’m so excited to get started. It’ll be a perfect piece to cozy up in as the cool weather approaches. Yes, please. I’d like a copy of this jumper pattern.
    Thank you in advance.
    Cheers!

  11. Hi, I would live to have the PDF of this lovely jumper! I am a test knitter and it would be so nice to knit this up! So generous of you! Thank you!

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