A Sweater for the Bear

I FINALLY finished it! It took me WAY longer than a child’s sweater should take, but I FINISHED IT!

(In my defence, I was a bit distracted by reading, piano, life and Other Things in General…)

But here it is: the Bear’s very own Flax Lite sweater!

He could look happier about it…

I love this pattern from Tincanknits. I made one for the Bug years ago, one for a wee babe born in 2019, and now one for the Bear.

Materials

I used KnitPicks Stroll Tonal in color “Eucalyptus”. I like this yarn because it’s a superwash merino (very soft) blended with nylon (very strong), and can be thrown in the washer.*

*Not that I’ve actually blocked it yet. Oh no no no, that would delay the gratification of seeing it on my child!

I used my wooden Knitter’s Pride 16″ circulars for the body. I liked knitting this wool on wood, as it’s quite slippery and the wooden needles are just slightly sticky, helping to keep stitches from sliding off.

For the arms, I used my trusty Addi Clic 32″ interchangeable knitting needles. I used a longer cable and knitted the arms at the same time on magic loop. I’m not crazy about this method, but I like it better than knitting one sleeve at a time.

Techniques

My gauge probably changed while working on this project. That is because I realized that part of the problem I was having earlier this year with discomfort in my shoulder was probably caused by how I tensioned my yarn!

It was such a small thing, but I thought it might help others, so I made a video and put it on YouTube:

I didn’t bother to start my project again, and was rather cavalier with the gauge. However, it seems to fit the Bear more or less, so let’s not worry about it, shall we?

I am quite proud of how neat the line between my knit and purl stitches is on the sleeve garter stitch panel. That’s thanks to a technique from VeryPink Knits (my knitting guru!).

(If you don’t feel like watching the video, here’s the rundown: whenever you switch from knitting to purling, stop after the first purl stitch. Yarn back, give your yarn a little tug, and then yarn forward and continue purling.)

I may need to unpick the bottom hem and bind it off again, as I bound off a little too tightly. I learned from my mistake and bound off with a needle TWO sizes larger on the sleeves. They’re perfect.

Modifications

Really, it’s just one modification, singular.

I wanted to make sure the neckline would be as comfy as possible, so I used the VeryPink Knits tutorial below to make it double thick at the collar. It provides a little extra warmth and structure at the top.

Next Up…

After a quick and tacky (I mean cute!) Christmas knit, I’ll tackle a Crazyheart sweater for the Bug.

I remembered I had purchased this pattern along with several others in the TinCanKnits ebook “Heart on Your Sleeve.” It was a campaign to raise money for malaria research, and I bought the ebook with all the wonderful patterns and PROMPTLY FORGOT ABOUT IT.

Now that I have remembered, I’m going to knit ALL THE YOKED SWEATERS!

fair-isle-knitting

My First Try at Fair Isle Knitting

Fair Isle knitting is a technique that involves knitting with two different-colored strands of yarn.

Called Fair Isle because it originated in Scotland on (you guessed it!) Fair Isle, it is also known as stranded knitting, stranded colorwork, or simply colorwork.

Wikipedia tells me that it first became popular when that irrepressible fashion plate the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII of England, famous for abdicating so he could marry his American divorcée girlfriend) started wearing Fair Isle sweaters on a regular basis. What a fashion rogue.

Anyway, I thought it was HIGH time I gave this famous (and fun!) technique a try. So I picked out an adorable pattern: Anders, by Sorren Kerr (link to pattern page on Ravelry.com).

Learning to hold two strands at once

The first trick to Fair Isle knitting is to learn to hold two strands of yarn at once. I knit English style, which means that I hold my yarn and tension in my right hand, and throw my yarn around my needle to build my stitches.

Continental-style knitting is when you hold your yarn and tension in your left hand, and “pick” your yarn with your needle to build your stitches.

So to knit Fair Isle, it’s useful to know how to do both, and at the same time! Here’s a helpful YouTube video for doing just that:

Once you’ve got the technique down, you’re ready to go!

Knitting up the Anders jumper

I have loved this pattern since a lady at the Montreal Stitch n’ Bitch discovered it. But I had a few problems for getting started.

First, since I was using stash yarn, I only had my main color in Drops Baby Merino, and my contrasting color in cotton Kapok DK by Sublime yarns (now discontinued).

Knitting with two different fibers can be a problem. Cotton is not as elastic as wool, and will eventually stretch out. Whereas wool retains its shape thanks to its elasticity. For this reason, I decided to do the bottom edge ribbing in my main color, to make sure that the bottom wouldn’t stretch out.

My second problem was that I did not have quite enough of my main color. So I decided to make it a short-sleeved, mid-season jumper.

Finally, though I *love* my Addi Clicks Turbo circular needles, my shortest cable was not quite short enough for the 6-12 month size I was knitting. My stitches were stretched over my cable, which changed my tension somewhat.

fair-isle-knitting-anders-jumper
Please pardon the terrible lighting!

Despite these little setbacks, I soldiered on, and I am quite pleased with the result. I apologize for the terrible photo, but I have a tendency to finish things at night.

Not especially visible in the photo is the vickle stitch braid that lines the ribbing edges on the collar, sleeves and hemline. It’s a sweet little detail that I really enjoyed.

The buttons were pilfered from a spare button box my mother inherited from her mother. Due to lack of time, I did not do a full wet-block, but gave it a good go with the steam iron. We’ll see how it holds up in washing…

Final thoughts on Fair Isle knitting

I love it. It’s a little slow, and you have to be careful about carrying your yarn when you have large stretches of one color. But despite that, it’s a lot of fun to see an image emerge as you work.

I will definitely be doing more Fair Isle knitting, including at least one more Anders for one lucky kid!