Knitting in the round - a whole new learning curve

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One of the real joys of platforms like Instagram is that you can find all sorts of inspiration for making things. I am not a great knitter, but I love hand knitted things and love seeing wonderful images on the internet that make me want to rush out and buy gorgeous organic yarn and set my needles clicking. A long while ago, I used to knit a few things for my kids but these days they are not interested and sewing has taken over much of my time. However, I am always totally inspired by the fabulous ‘Loop of London’s’ daily posts and decided to be brave and try the new way of knitting in the round. It was easy to select a pattern - so many delicious choices out there and amazing blogs by the likes of ‘a verb for keeping warm’ and ‘Quince and Co’. This ‘Annabel’ cardigan seemed like a good choice for a rusty knitter with new techniques to learn.

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I was adamant that I wanted 100% British organic wool and although it might be a more expensive choice - it is worth every penny. This pretty apple green is lovely for spring and infact it is springy and smooth to knit. It’s aran weight so is reasonably quick to knit up for a first project. I have to say that using a circular needle was a whole new adventure for me, but once I understood how the pattern construction worked, I found it easy enough to make the body of the cardigan. It is actually a really clever idea and even if you don’t think you will get the hang of circular needles, I can assure you, it is actually much easier than using straight pins.

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I was especially taken with the flattering shape of the neckline - and the neat construction seemed easy to follow. My tension wasn’t bad - it wasn’t perfect either, but generally hand knitted garments always have these sorts of imperfections and it’s what makes them cosy and informal. The sleeves however, were a whole different ball game and I didn’t enjoy this part so much.

I realised almost immediately why I have never made socks - it is the same idea and I found it extremely difficult to pull the stitches in between the needles tight enough. Initially I kept dropping stitches off the bottom of these needles at the same time and I felt a bit frustrated. It also doesn’t help in the beginning when you are working so close to the main body of the garment and I felt a bit as if I was going to mess it all up. It is confusing too as unlike the main body which is all in ‘knit’ -here you have to alternate the rows with purl to apparently achieve the same effect (still don’t get that!) I persevered and as the sleeve got longer, I got more in control. I stopped dropping stitches, but still found the connection stitches between the double pointed needles very faffy. The sleeves are three quarter on this cardigan so it didn’t take very long really, but when I had finished, I was convinced that I would have to redo the first arm. I decided to tackle the second one and of course it was better. It is essential to pull those connections tight and gradually I got the hang of it.

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When the sleeves were done, I tried the cardigan on for the first time and was delighted that it fitted so well. I was worried about how the sleeves looked but in fact it was as if the stitches redressed themselves, adjusting and readjusting where necessary. When it lay flat you could definitely see the lines where I had changed needles but once it was on, it was hardly noticeable. I added some Liberty covered buttons for an eye catching detail and a leather tag which I found in the bottom of my sewing box, covered up the one mistake on the sleeve which was totally my fault, but which now morphed into a design feature (LOL!).

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It is absolutely not even close to perfect. It’s a novice attempt, but it is cosy and pretty and I love it dearly already. So I guess I am all ready for an english summer…..