The Newish Reddish Top

Posted by Eleanor Burke on

You wouldn't know this but I do actually finish some projects. Once upon a time, in the old blog and vlog, I used to update you when I started, as I was going and then when I finished. I was spurred on to finish so that I could show you all what I was up to and somehow, as the shop got busier that just waned a little until I got to the point where I was like - does anybody actually want to know?! Especially when a swatch and an excited post will be enough to sell something online and if I'm wearing a thing in the shop than that will sell the wool. It's been enough. But recently, I feel the yearning for updating again, for longer form content. Whether that yearning results in more blogs or vlogs is anybody's guess. But, you know what, I'm sick of writing about whether I will write something so - shut up Eleanor, let's get going.

This Newish Reddish Top

Eleanor, a fat white woman with short brown hair wears a red, crocheted jumper over a black outfit. She's standing at an awkward angle but smiling and she's stood in front of shelves of yarn.

I started this back in August 2021 and I finished it in February 2023. That's a very long time for a simple shape and an enjoyable crochet... The project formed in my mind when I saw the Shepherd's Purse Tee from the Crochet Project on insta. I don't follow them actually, not for a major reason as I've always enjoyed their work and their ethos, I just try and follow not very many people otherwise I get sucked into an instagram hole. I trust that the people that I do follow will show me the things that I need to see or, when the time is right, I make an intentional choice to look through our patterns or on rav. The printed pattern is on sale at the moment, they're making some changes in how they do their business so they're selling through their stock, I bought the pdf anyway. 

A white, femme looking person is wearing a brown, lace, crochet jumper with three quarter length sleeves. They have wavy brown hair and look serene.

 Copyright Joanne Scrace, borrowed from Ravelry

Now, it's written for a lace weight which at the time we didn't do (but it would look stunning in the Cumulus), but we had just had a redelivery of the gorgey Homespun DK. This yarn came in at the same time as the Forest Aran, more or less, and it sort of looks a bit rustic and homey in the same way - it has a fleck and the base colours are not a straight coloured but very lightly heathered. It's also an alpaca/merino/other stuff blend and that means it's got a beautiful sort of halo. All of this to say, it's spent a lot of it's selling life actually sold out at the suppliers. I wonder if there is a difficulty in manufacturing it to be honest, as I've known with some other yarns which are also sold out a lot, but honestly, I've not known a yarn that is so popular be so sold out for so long. But here we are. Every now and again there's a big old delivery and I get as much as I can in and then it sells, sells, sells, and what's more, it resells, sells, sells, because people love it so much. It is beautiful to work with and the effect is just gorgeous, even in the most simple patterns but, as you can see here, it works with something a little busier too. 

A close up shot of lace crochet in a red colourway. It's a simple repeat and the yarn is slightly flecky and heathered.

So, it's the wrong yarn for the pattern, by some margin. This is a DK yarn, a thin one but still, definitively a DK, and I'm using it on a laceweight pattern... But the hook seemed like a good one to use and I knew that a laceweight jumper wasn't going to work for me anyway - I'd get it caught and it wouldn't be warm enough for the times I'd want to wear a jumper and too warm for when I wanted something very airy and light. And of course, I wanted to start straight away - so I did.

I didn't want to do a gauge swatch (obvs... do as I say, not as I do...) and without that info I couldn't really do the maths that I needed to work out the sizing proper. Essentially what I would have done, is the gauge swatch on my yarn, worked out by percent how much bigger my swatch was than theirs and then made the smaller size that matched that percent. It would have come out bigger but by the right percent. Does that make sense?

But I didn't do the maths, instead I did a thing I am always rabbiting on about in the shop, which is to chain the length I wanted, and then a fair bit more (because once you start crocheting into the chain it usually sort of shrinks) and then I started working the first row. When the actual stitches are in there you get a much clearer idea of how wide the piece will actually be so I crocheted to where it felt good, then, if I was a reasonable human I would have matched that up with the closest size, so probably added a few repeats until it matched exactly with a size from the pattern which I then could have followed. Much easier to count stitches/repeats than chains too. I was not, if you can believe this reader, a reasonable human, I did not match up with any size, I just crocheted along doing whatever the hell I wanted... More on that in a mo. 

I think the sizes available are really generous. The first size comes out at 34.5" and the biggest size 66.5" with intervals of around 4" in between and it's supposed to be worn with some positive ease. It's not a perfect selection but I think that's acceptable (and much more than many designers work with...). It should give plenty of room for messing about with sizing like I did too.

When I crocheted the back (or the front, I forget and they are the same) to the point where I needed to shape for the neck I simply just.... started the other side. Haha. Leave that problem until the end. I think the original has a relatively slash neck which I used to love but now I'm more into layering I think it often looks a bit weird to have a slash neck over the top of a t-shirt-y, crew neck (you may not but you aren't me and that's okay!) so I knew I wanted to make some shaping but I couldn't follow the pattern because the shaping just wasn't there with the slash neck and also I'd not followed a size! So I put it off until I couldn't put it off anymore and then just winged it. 

It's a very long time ago so I'll tell you what I would do now, and I imagine that's close to what I did do then. I would have split the stitches roughly in thirds, then taken a little more out of the shoulders so make the neck wider. I'd have put a stitch marker in so I knew where I wanted my neck to decrease out to eventually, and kept moving that up as I went. Once that was in place on both sides I'd have crocheted just past the first stitch marker, by about an inch and a half, done a decrease and turned. Then I'd have decreased and carried on back across that (now short) row. I'd have worked back and forth on that shoulder decreasing on every row at the neck until I was at the stitch marker which denoted where the neckline should be and then I'd have held it all up to myself to see if I liked the way it fitted. I believe I did a couple of rows without any shaping at this point so get the neckline to lay where I wanted. Then, mirror all of that on the other side, leaving a load of stitches unworked at the middle. When you're winging like this I fully recommend trying to do it all in once sesh because working out what you did last time is often a nightmare. Ask me how I know. 

Once I knew how many stitches each shoulder finished with at the front, and how many extra rows I'd done for the neck shaping I could then work up the back in a similar way but that doesn't need the same depth (although it can look cute to have a deep back neck - just saying) so I worked in a very similar way but more plain rows before the shaping starts and with less decreases to get to the shoulders. I was also sure, because this was an open garment, that I didn't want a seam as such, so I chose to crochet the shoulder seams together during the last row of the back by using slip stitches at appropriate moments. 

Then I was able to make the neckline, which I knew I wanted to do in DC's, nice and simple, but also to make a point of making it a bit too small to give some stability. The stitch pattern being quite open worried me a bit. Once I'd done the neck though, it looked all bunched up and a bit gross, I hoped it would block out and it did! I should have taken a photo of the before but I did not... 

A close up of half of the neckline of a red, crocheted jumper.

Then. I needed to do sleeves. I tried picking up stitches and crocheting down and I hated it, I couldn't get a neat pick up on the open stitches. I tried crocheting the sleeves length ways and doing clever shaping to accommodate my large upper arms but I hated it. What I didn't do, of course, was look at the pattern...  And so I did what every sensible crocheter does when they can't work something out and are worried about the neckline and I put it down for over a year. 

I've really no idea what made me pick it up again but I did, the yarn was in a right knotty muddle because, despite being absolutely bloody wonderful, it's a doughnut ball so it does fall apart and it's a fluffy alpaca ish yarn so it does fluff together... Once I'd unknotted the mess, I just thought, let me chain enough to go around my arms, work in trebles and increase a bit here and there and call that good for a sleeve. I got them done and sewn in in perhaps two evenings. Ends woven in and blocked overnight because I finished it just before I went to Matlock for the weekend and I wanted to wear it. My version of blocking was to lay it over a radiator having made sure that the neck was lying flat. Profesh. 

A selfie of a person wearing a red crochet jumper, a multi coloured, orange-y/purple-y cowl and a grey coat. You can't see a face, body or make out who it is.

So that's my story. I really enjoy this jumper, I wear it all the time. This is a still from a video that I took for TikTok which never got uploaded.

I enjoyed making it actually, when I stopped messing around, and I am majorly enjoying wearing it. To say it's a thin DK it really packs a punch in terms of warmth. It must be the alpaca. For those who have been listening closely for years, yep, still allergic to alpaca. It's not bad when I wear it because the fluff stays put but many, many antihistamines were taken during the crocheting. It's been washed, with very little care honestly, in the washing machine at 30 and it is still exactly as it went in so wearing well, washing well, bish bash bosh. 

Now, I do feel a bit bad about writing this blog when there is none of this colour in stock here or at the suppliers but I do have three brand new colours to show you which haven't really been promoted at all so you may have only seen them in you've been in the shop. Now, everybody can love them! The aubergine colour is a particular highlight! 

Three doughnut balls of yarn held in a white hand against a backdrop of brownish shelves of yarn. The balls in the hand are a bright denim blue, a deep aubergine, and a water-y wheat sort of yellow. All have beautiful flecks in.

Find the Homespun here


Love Eleanor. xxx

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