Thursday 4 August 2016

Knit It - Women's Land Army Pullover

I made myself a little promise earlier this year, to try and become a monogamous knitter, you know just one project on the needles at any one time, so that I never have to have such a long guilt-inducing list of UFO's ever again, so far it is working out OK. I should point out I didn't make the same promise regarding sewing projects, I know myself well enough by now to realize I'd fail miserably at that! 

So today's post is about a very special UFO, one that's been on my list since 2011 (only five years) and now complete, it marks the very last UFO on said list to be ticked off! Hurrah!

The Butterfly Balcony - Knit It -  Free Women's Land Army Pullover Pattern

~ Women's Land Army Pullover ~
Pattern: A V-necked Pullover by Jaeger Hand-Knit No.44, Essentials for the Forces
Size: Pattern 35" Bust -- Size Made 37" Bust
Yarn: Bottle Green 2ply knitting machine yarn

It was February 2011, if Ravelry is to be believed, that I cast this poor jumper on. For years I'd longed for a lovely Women's Land Army Jumper in a glorious bottle green, and as I'd just begun working on my new allotment, I felt it was time to give knitting one a try!

So, I set about scouring the Internet for an original pattern, but being 2011 there was a lot fewer free or paid for PDF vintage patterns available online, so I struggled to find much that was suitable. I'd seen a few of the officially issued jumpers for sale on eBay, so I knew that the original pattern was for a long-sleeved, V-necked, K1. P1. ribbed jumper. I also knew that the standard issue ones would have been machine knitted, due to the sheer volume produced, so I reasoned that there may well not be an original handknit pattern out there and so settled for this V-necked Jumper pattern from the V&A's knitting archive.

The Butterfly Balcony - Knit It -  Free Women's Land Army Pullover Pattern

When it came to getting the right yarn, here I also struggled. I am going to say it again, but back in 2011, as hard as it is to believe, there was nowhere near the amount of 4ply yarns available as there is today. Much of what was available was in baby shades of pinks, blues, and yellows, there were very few in more grown-up colours. I struggled for weeks, trying to find the right ply to match the pattern with the right hue to match that which the WLA's jumpers were renowned for. In the end, I found a seller on eBay who had some 2ply bottle green knitting machine yarn for sale, so I settled for that knowing once I balled it up, off the massive cone it came on, I could then double it up to reach the 4ply thickness the pattern required.

So I cast on and got knitting, I actually blogged back then about how I was planning to see just how quickly I could knit this up, haha, the naivety! I knitted the back quite quickly, for me, but then I stalled on the front only finishing it in July of the same year. And so that is how it has been left until a few months back when I decided rather than waste any more time knitting sleeves, to turn it into a pullover by knitting ribbing around the armholes and neckline.

The Butterfly Balcony - Knit It -  Free Women's Land Army Pullover Pattern

The pattern is a very simple one, after the 2 by 2 stitch ribbing for the waist, you move on to the body of the jumper which is knitted in a slip stitch style wide rib, which is what gives the jumper the channels which run up the front. Knitting this pattern was a little tedious, due to the spacing of the slip stitch channel, for some reason I found it very difficult to get into a rhythm with it and so spent much of my time undoing rows where I had, slipped up - Excuse the pun!

The Butterfly Balcony - Knit It -  Free Women's Land Army Pullover Pattern

Also due to me using knitting machine yarn, the feel of the jumper as it was being worked was very rough and itchy, this is partly to do with it being 100% wool in its makeup, but also due to the fact knitting machine yarn tends to be coated to make it smoother helping it to glide through the machine without snagging, and so once washed and blocked the finished garment should soften up, which this pullover has, but not by much.

The Butterfly Balcony - Knit It -  Free Women's Land Army Pullover Pattern

Now it's done I am really glad, but now it's done I can see just how bad my re-sizing was and how it really doesn't fit me that well at all! The shoulders are too wide (something sleeves would have distracted from I think) and so is the main body, it's all just a little bit too big for me and is way off from being a 37" bust more like a 42". If I am honest I know there are two simple reasons for this. One, I think that rather than just adding 2" overall, I added 2" to both the front and back. Two, I didn't do a test swatch, I just assumed that by adding more stitches it would all work out OK, but as I never checked to see how loose my tension was compared to the pattern, it was always unlikely it would come out the right size! Again, the naivety!

The Butterfly Balcony - Knit It -  Free Women's Land Army Pullover Pattern

So there you have my last UFO. I can't say that I love it, but I'm not too disappointed, as I ought to point out that this was the second ever jumper I'd attempted to knit and my first attempt resizing a vintage pattern, so perhaps I can forgive myself for its inaccuracies. It is still wearable, with a belt, and I guess you can't always love everything you make. I have since stumbled upon the official handknit pattern - find it for free here - and as I do still really want a Land Girl Jumper, I think I'll give it a try, finding a 4ply bottle green yarn should certainly be much easier in 2016 - well at least I hope so!

Wendy x

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