I've been knitting again, this time a jumper for Smiler's friend Alfie ~ kindly modelled by Smiler, who now thinks it's his, so there may be another one in the works fairly soon! Smiler isn't always as cooperative as I might wish when I'm taking pictures, but hey, he's facing in the right direction, and for today that's enough!
The pattern is from Ravelry, a great resource site with thousands of patterns, active user forums and loads of info on yarn and anything else you might need for your knitting / crocheting dreams to be answered. Lots of free patterns, but I chose one to buy ~ only works out a couple of pounds and that goes directly to the pattern designer (Sara Gresbach in this case), so buying it supports an independent small scale business, which I'm all in favour of. The pattern, named Hoodsie, is sized for adults, but Alfie is a little shorter and thinner than my boy child, so I graded the pattern down, realising just a moment too late that there was a child version available! Ah well, now I can use it for Smiler, and Noah too, maybe even Mr Manley! But for Alfie I cast on 104 stitches on my fancy new circular needles ~ yep, I really am that person ~ the one that truly considers new knitting needles on par with new shoes or a new handbag ... actually, that's not accurate ~ I'd much rather have the needles...
I loves how straightforward Hoodsie is, even for a novice like me. The instructions are not overly complex, but include conversational hints of how and where to make adjustments for length and so on, so you're always aware of which bit you're actually doing. By using a single colour yarn (coincidentally similar to the one in the pattern photos) the stripes are subtle, much more grown up than switching colours, created instead by inserting regular rib rows separating stockinette sections. The chunky cream yarn looks great in the edging too ~ I used seed stitch instead of letting the edge roll over on itself, and I prefer it like this to be honest.
A slight modification of the pattern was needed ~ Alfie has sensory processing disorder and although I know he'll be okay with the yarn (used a wool/acrylic blend) I also knew he would not be comfortable with the neckline. To give him plenty of room around his neck I created a v~neck ~ not the neatest, I know, but it'll do! Another small change I made to avoid having to attempt something I find really tricky was that instead of trying to seam the shoulders I left the stitches in play, then used Silver's Sock Class instructions to graft the shoulders in the same way as you do with the toes of socks. I blunted the tip of the hood so it doesn't look quite as pixie~like as you can see in the child's pattern picture ~ I know it looks cute but Alfie is twelve and Smiler almost that ~ going for trendy teen here instead of the ahhhh factor for once!
I really love the mixture of textures ~ I repeated the seed stitch edging on the hood to match the hem, and this, along with the subtle stripe patterning, mean the hoodie looks thoughtfully designed and actually more complicated than it actually was to knit. The other big surprise for me was how drapy it was, specially being pretty thick ~ I got lucky with the yarn I guess! I'm sure I'll be starting one for Smiler soon, and hope that I'll be able to pry this one off of him to give to Alfie, but I am secretly (or maybe not so secretly) thrilled that he likes it so much! Smiler is not a fan of hoods, so I might leave it off, but I'll see ~ it looks pretty cool so I might keep it as a design feature.
All in all, a resounding success ~ I followed and understood a pattern, made something genuinely wearable, and liked how it came out at the end. I even tweaked a couple of bits which also worked out well ~ hooray!