Recently I’ve been part of a group of pre-knitters, who have been busy knitting up different patterns from the new LB Handknits, Facing North collection.
The collection is perfect if you’re the type of person who just has to cast on a lovely, chunky jumper or cardigan as soon as they feel the weather turning chilly, as all the patterns are intended to be made up in super chunky yarn.
It’s they type of collection that just screams days spent outdoors in the winter months, but while these knits might be chunky, that doesn’t mean they are dull. Far from it - they are full of unique design features, that make them really interesting knits.
I wanted to review the pattern I’ve been lucky enough to try out…
I’ve been busy making the Fisherman’s Muse Sweater, which is a top down, super chunky sweater, knit in the round, with old shale lacework and an asymmetric hem. These features give, what could be a simple sweater, some gorgeous detail that set it apart from the kind you could find on the high street.
When I’m making something in chunky yarn, I like it to be quite oversized, as I really love that kind of look. When I’m making something in a finer yarn, that’s when I want it to be closer fitting. That, plus the fact that I want to be able to wear this jumper through the winter months while I’ll be heavily pregnant, means that I sized up to the 4th size in the fitting guide.
My gauge is quite loose at the moment, as I’m suffering a little from pregnancy-related carpal tunnel syndrome in my right hand, so I think the jumper came up a little larger than I was expecting. However, I think I’ll be very thankful for that in 2 months time, when I’ll be nearing my due date!
There were a few techniques in the Fisherman’s Muse pattern that were new to me, including a provisional cast on and an i-cord bind off. However, although these aspects were new, they weren’t hard to pick up after watching a few Youtube videos. Here are a couple I found particularly handy:
Provisional Cast On - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OGG0AiJ3XE
I-Cord Bind Off - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ij8aSPnAcjs (the pattern tells you to do the technique slightly differently, but this is good at giving you the gist.)
The sweater knit up fairly quickly due to the chunky yarn, but the i-cord bind off was the part that dragged for me, however, this was probably due to the fact that my hand was not enjoying the movement one bit!
The pattern calls for 100m/100g chunky or super chunky yarn, with a 8mm needle. It recommends the Apple Oak Fibre Works Studio chunky yarn, which looks lovely, but as I was on a bit of a budget last month, it was a little out of my price range. I know a lot of other people have used Drops Eskimo, but I’ve heard that it pills like a bi*** and I just didn’t fancy dealing with that.
In the end, I decided to go for Debbie Bliss Winter Garden, in Silver Birch, which is a llama, wool, silk and linen mix which I bought from a fellow knitter on Revelry.
It’s a lovely colour, and I’m happy with it in the jumper, but it is a very scratch yarn which surprised me. It seems to have little bits of straw-like material every couple of feet, and while they do pull out, they area bit annoying. As the jumper is meant to be a bit of a layering piece for me anyway, I won’t be wearing this without anything underneath, and with a thin long sleeved top underneath, it doesn’t scratch at all.
Overall, I really do like this pattern and the extra details on the sleeves, hems and necklines. I do have a couple of tips for anyone who’s making a project in chunky yarn.
Chunky Yarn Knitting Tips:
Take some breaks - I don’t know about you, but working with chunky yarns makes my hands ache after a while. I could sit and knit for hours with fingering weight yarn, but chunky weight makes me feel like an old lady with arthritis. I find it a lot better to keep taking short breaks, and even using a heat pad or a hot water bottle to warm up my hands if they’re feeling sore.
If the project needs blocking, it’s going to be heavy when wet. That means it’s going to pull out of shape really easily if it’s not dried flat. I always try and make sure I dry a chunky knit, especially a sweater or something like that, on a completely flat surface, making sure that there isn’t a rogue sleeve dangling and stretching out.
Another note on blocking or washing chunky yarns - it’s going to take an age to dry. It’s a good idea to get as much water out of the garment as possible before you lay it out, and one way to do this is to roll it up in a towel and stand on it, don’t wring out or twist your garment.
If you decide to make a Fisherman’s Muse Sweater make sure you send me a picture or a link to your Ravelry. I’d love to see it in different yarns!