Following knitting my first ever jumper I graduated to the Wool and the Gang Hotline Sweater a Christmas present, which would test my skills, introduce the increase and decrease technique and present me with the challenge of working with a new type of yarn, mohair. Mohair comes from the hair of the Angora goat and the word mohair is derived from the Arabic mukhayyar (‘goat’s hair fabric’). I love the texture of the yarn, despite its tendency to malt it is light and soft. Wearing an item of clothing made from mohair makes you feels like you’re wrapped in a ball of cotton wool. From a style point of view, it reminds me of the oversized knits on the high street, just like this knitwear from Sezanne. I like the silhouette created from wearing slim fitted trousers, with a jumper tucked in using a French tuck.
Like all Wool and the Gang kits, everything you need to start your project is self-contained, it even comes in a paper bag, ideal for storing a work in progress. The kit comes with paper instructions, but critically for me, YouTube tutorials accompany each technique required for the pattern. These are presented in an easy to follow format, which you can watch and re-watch, over and over again, until you get it right.
When working with mohair for the first time, it became apparent that it is much finer than any of the other yarns I had worked with previously. When I was completing my swatches to test the tension, I ended up knotting up the yarn as I was pulling my stitches too tight. The pattern calls for the reverse stocking stitch, you work it like a regular stocking stitch, but simply flip the front to the back and wear the reverse side on the outside. When working a reverse stocking stitch, you knit one row, followed by a pearl row. It took me some time to recognise each stitch type. When I picked up my project again, I did two rows of pearl by mistake and the pattern was disrupted, forcing me to undo a row of stitches. Soon it became easy to identify a knit row compared to a pearl row. However, it’s a good reminder that a swatch, not only helps you identify the tension, but also familiarises you with new techniques.
After a shaky start, the jumper came together easily. A 2X1 rib is required for the the cuffs, hem and neck. The body of the jumper requires some shaping to fit the sleeves, which sounds more complicated than it is. I followed the YouTube videos on left and right learning decrease with ease.
I made the medium size based on my measurements, which requires six balls of wool that come in the kit, but I ran out of wool for the neck. Honestly, I was not sure what happened because I diligently completed the swatch. Frustrated at the amount of time I had spent on the project already, I went to Wool and The Gang to buy an extra ball of the take care mohair but it was out of stock, across the site. Desperate, I rang stockists, but no luck. In the end, I followed the #hotlinesweater on Instagram and found Jamie Knits who had jump completed a hotline sweater two weeks earlier in the same colour, but I guessed in a smaller size. I contacted her asking if she had any wool to sell, and as luck would have it, she had half a ball that she was happy to gift me. This was a real act of kindness, which meant I was able to complete my project.
If I were to do this jumper again, I would size down, it is a little long on my arms, that said, I am still happy to wear it as the pattern has been designed to be oversized. I found the fitting part of knitting difficult to gauge. Despite using a swatch, there is much less precision than the fitting used in sewing, there is more room for the human error or perhaps that is the art of knitting. I’m assured by the more experienced knitters in the Knit and Natter group I attend (which meets every 3rd thursday of the month at Gran T’s– all welcome) that these fitting issues will smooth out in time, so I’ll put it down to a lack of experience.
This jumper took me the best part of six weeks to complete. It took a lot of my time and I’ll remember this jumper taking me through the January and February of this year. The therapeutic benefits of making, slowing down and making during winter are not new, but they are two topics I want to explore more. The glacial pace of knitting, (or at least my pace, when I’m just starting out) forced me to reframe my perspective on making, to make the making the main event. Enjoying being curled up under my mohair blanket, whilst working on the mohair jumper is as much a part of knitting as wearing your jumper and sharing it with the world is. The last page of the knitting instructions provides a space for your reflections on the project. At first, I thought this section simply set the tone of voice for the brand, but actually it gives a space to write what memories a jumper will hold, beyond the type of yarn it is formed from and what size needles you use to make it.
Pattern: Wool and The Gang Hotline Sweater
Skill level; beginner
Time; 6 weeks
All for now
Claire & Co.