Five things I learned knitting Bressay (and the finished article)

My Bressay is done. I thought I might never write that sentence! I began this sweater in … April 2019 as a knitalong with my pal Jenni. By the time Willa arrived on the scene in October, the plain portions of the body and sleeves were long done, but the colorwork (which starts before the sleeves and body are joined for the yoke) was nonexistent. And I figured it’d remain that way for quite some time. But I slowly chipped away at it and now, five months after Willa joined the family, the jumper is done. I’m calling that a win!

I’m pretty excited I’ve finished this sweater. Willa, less so.

In a minute, I’m going to tell you just how much I love this sweater. This is by far the biggest colorwork project I’ve done, with the most colors, so first I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned along the way.

1. There’s a better way to splice, and I’m using it on every colorwork project from here on out, forever and ever.


This sweater is knit out of Jamieson’s of Shetland Spindrift, a 100% wool, woollen spun yarn … it’s practically begging to be spliced! But if I’m honest, splicing always causes me a bit of anxiety (ever since I had a splice come undone 6 inches back in a colorwork Lopi sweater). I often avoid it or think of it as a technique that’s really hard to get right. So when I began the colorwork sections, I was splicing when I could really focus on it — which was for maybe 1 in 5 color changes — and using the method I’d learned ages ago. And then I had another splicing tragedy — a splice came undone several 300+ stitch rounds back. At which point I paused, watched this AC Knitwear video and kicked myself for not doing it sooner. Jen’s method, which involved folding a ply from each yarn back on itself (which I had never done before) results, for me, in a much more secure join — and lots less splicing anxiety. I used it for the last portion of the yoke (you can see in the below photo there are almost no ends left to weave in the final section near the neck) — and I will never not splice again. Because life is too short to weave in this many ends if you can avoid it.

2. When you’re knitting a project that involves 11 shades, you should probably swatch …

This is pretty self explanatory. Bressay features ten contrast shades, in addition to the main color. I loved the original but wanted to try to pick my own colors (I had a lot of fun doing it with my lovely friend Jenni at Northern Yarn!) While I checked gauge in stockinette, I couldn’t bring myself to check my yoke colors … it just seemed like such a big undertaking! As a result, I got to the middle section of the yoke and ended up being unhappy with some choices … and belatedly doing a mini swatch! I probably would have saved myself some time if I’d just done a great big swatch to begin with!

3. … but if you don’t, it’ll probably be alright.

All that being said though, the decision to not swatch almost worked out fine. I used the first sleeve as a swatch and was prepared to rip back and tweak (which I did). When I started questioning some choices on the yoke, I did some quick duplicate stitching to test a minor color swap before I committed to reswatching and ripping out. The great thing about Spindrift is the beautiful heathered shades meld together really nicely, making choosing many colors to go together a bit less daunting!

4. Stitch markers are your (my) friends.

I kept getting to the end of majorly long rounds only to find I’d made a one stitch mistake that I’d then have to go hunting for. It should have occurred to me earlier, but using stitch markers to mark off the colorwork repeats made making mistakes a lot less likely, and finding them when they did happen much easier.

5. If you care about color dominance, you better keep some notes!

This is something else that is probably obvious, but I didn’t note which color I was keeping dominant in the charts when I started (because I would definitely remember, right?) As I carried on, it wasn’t always obvious to me what I’d done when it came time to repeat charts — small notes would have helped!

On a personal level, finishing this project has been a really lovely reminder that I can still complete bigger, more complex (for me at least!) knitting projects, it just might take a bit longer. I was worried I might never finish this jumper if I didn’t complete it before Willa came, and now it’s done … and I just adore it! All the dithering over colors, the tweaking, the stitches eked out here and there have been so worth it … this sweater just makes me so very, very happy!

Project details

Pattern: Bressay by Marie Wallin, from her book Shetland. (Side note: If you have the book, it’s worth emailing and asking for the digital copy — I did that and printed out enlarged charts, which I found really helpful).

Yarn: Jamieson’s of Shetland Spindrift. Pattern and yarn both from my lovely local, Northern Yarn. Kate’s got a fabulous range of Spindrift; it’s so nice to be able to go and play and choose colors in person, especially when so many are involved!

Modifications: I kept poor notes on my needle choices, but I went up one or two needle sizes for the colorwork sections, even though the pattern doesn’t advise it, as I know my colorwork knitting is always much tighter than plain stockinette. I also added a smidge of short row shaping after the completion of the colorwork yoke — I’m really happy with how they turned out. I swapped all the 1×1 ribbing for 2×2 ribbing. You can see all the colors I used and my rather paltry notes over on my Ravelry project page.

Willa’s unimpressed.

I made the second size, and I am so pleased with the easy fit of this. Loose, lightweight but warm (how I love the fabric that Spindrift creates!) … I think it’s going to be the perfect nearly year round sweater here in the northwest of England!

Finally a smile!

I’m not sure there’s much more to say about this, other than I love it, I think I’ll be wearing it tons, and it was a great learning experience! Oh and my adorable little assistant is wearing her lovely Antler Cardigan, a special gift from our lovely friend Jen — the pattern is by Tin Can Knits, and it was knit in ever-so-luxurious Something to Knit With Aran. Willa’s just grown into this, and I love putting her in it!

Hope wherever you are you are well, safe, and taking care … and have plenty of knitting to see you through whatever the next few weeks bring! Thanks as always for stopping by!

xo K


Yarnalong: Felix, The Familiars, and This Golden Fleece

Ahoy! I’m hoping to sweep out the cobwebs here (more on that in a later post) and get back to writing at least semi-regularly — and what better way to reenter than with a Yarnalong post!

Knitting: The Felix Cardigan by Amy Christoffers. My mom and I cast these on when she was visiting us and our new arrival a few weeks ago. Progress hasn’t been the fastest (see: new arrival + still working on other projects) but I divided for the sleeves last night and am looking forward to the shorter rows that will bring. I’m not used to using such big needles (knitting on a US 10/ 6 mm) and they’ve been a bit hard on my hands. But, left hand willing, I’m hoping to make enough progress to give this a quick try on today and make sure the fit in the shoulders is good!

I’m knitting this in the called for yarn, Green Mountain Spinnery’s Mountain Mohair, in shade Raven. I really like the deep charcoal and know it’ll be a great wardrobe staple. The single ply 75% wool 25% mohair blend makes a fabric that seems lofty but sturdy. I think it will make for a cardigan that’s warm but not as heavy as you might expect from a garment knit in worsted weight yarn.

Reading: I’ve got two books on the go at the moment. The first is This Golden Fleece, a really interesting combination of personal knitting memoir and Britain’s knitting and woolly history. I’m nearly halfway through, but with it being a hardback, I’m finding it easiest to read when I’m not holding or feeding a little babe — so progress is a bit slow. When I can catch time for a quick soak in the tub, reading a few more pages of this is a real treat!

The second book is The Familiars, historical fiction set in 17th-century Lancaster during the Pendle witch trials. Commemorations of the Pendle witches are everywhere around Lancaster, and I’m really enjoying reading something set where I live! I’m enjoying spending time with the first person narrator, even though the world she inhabits is a bit lonely and sad. Once I start reading it, it’s hard to put down … luckily, Mr N got me a Kindle for my birthday which makes it ever so much easier to read while breastfeeding!

Head on over the original Yarnalong to see what other knitters are working on and reading this week!

Yarnalong, January 2019: Waiting for Rain, Mondim Socks, and James Herriot

I’m in the midst of the last few days of our Australian holiday, so this will be short and sweet, but I wanted to pop in quickly for the first Yarnalong of 2019. 

Knitting: My knitting’s been coming along with me everywhere this trip. I finished my Doocot sweater the first week, so have been working on Waiting for Rain and some vanilla socks out of Mondim sock yarn ever since. It’s been a long time since I’ve not had a sweater actively on the go, and while I’m looking forward to getting back to garment knitting when we return to the UK, I’ve got to say, it’s been fun watching smaller projects grow quickly! I’m well into the second skein of my shawl, and my socks’ feet are nearly done. I’ve had a new idea for a little sock design, and I’m wondering if I should try it out on the leg or  keep them simple. 

Reading: I had high hopes for holiday reading, but most evenings I’ve nodded off before I can make much progress. But I’ve made a small start with James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small which I’m really enjoying. It’s funny and gentle and a perfect light read to see in the new year. 

Head over to the original Yarnalong post  to see what others are knitting and reading — what are you up to this week?

Onward Knits — Interview and Giveaway!

Today, I’m so happy to share an interview with my dear friend, Kate Jordan, who’s just published her very first book, Onward KnitsKate and Mr. N went to university together in New Zealand, and I met her for the first time over three years ago  during our trip to NZ after years of online chatting about our mutual love of wool and knitting. Since then our friendship has been sustained by Facebook chats, Skype knitting sessions, and, earlier this year, an epic trip to Edinburgh Yarn Festival!  I actually find it a little hard to believe that we’ve only spent a few weeks in each other’s company over our years of friendship–the internet is a wonderful thing!

Kate, speaking at the Onward Knits launch — which, fittingly, was held at a bar in the Wellington Railway Station.

Continue reading “Onward Knits — Interview and Giveaway!”

Happy Thanksgiving 

A bold red grouse I met on a walk this morning
Just a quick note to say happy Thanksgiving if you’re celebrating today! I’ve got so much to be thankful for, not least knitting and the community that surrounds it. So thanks to all of you who chose to spend a little of your day here. Sometimes I wonder if the knitting blog is a dying breed (there are so many other places to get knitting chat theee days) but I really value this space and all of you! If you’re in the United States (or anywhere else for that matter), I hope your day is full of good food, good company, and maybe a spot of knitting. 

Yarnalong: Lotta + Behind the Scenes at the Museum

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Hi there! Just a quick post today as I’m still traveling, but I’m so excited about the book I’m reading that I didn’t want to miss this month’s Yarnalong!

Knitting: My Lotta Dress from the most recent issue of Laine is coming along … I’ve been working on it as and when while I’ve been traveling, and have just divided for the sleeves.  As soon as I finish this clever horizontal detailing on the body, it’s just miles of stockinette …. perfect for working on while catching up with friends the rest of this week and for my flight back to the UK next Monday!  I’m loving knitting with the toothy and tactile Tukuwool sock — I see more projects with it in my future. But I’m missing knitting along on it with my lovely mom since I left last Friday.

Reading: Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson.  I’ve been in such a reading funk lately … I have had such a hard time picking up a book and staying with it.  I started BTSATM on my trip, though, as I’m reading it for a book club, and I adore it.   The first person narrative grabbed me right away, it’s chronology jumps around in a way that’s fun and not gimmick-y or confusing, and I love the richly textured picture it paints of a family’s life in post WW2 Yorkshire.  I’m not all that far in, but so far, so good!

Head on over to the original Yarnalong post to see what knitters and readers all around the world are up to! What are you reading and knitting this week?

TWO YEARS (and a bit…)!

This past weekend was Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival … the very first yarn festival I ever went to, and one that I was lucky enough to go to several times during the time I lived in Baltimore (miss you, Charm City!)  As I saw little pictures and post pop up around the Kniternet about the festival, I thought back to the last time I went, two years ago, with a lovely group of friends …

Which got me thinking about how my two-year old Maryland Sheep and Wool Fest post was one of my very early blog posts …

Which made me realize that I had missed my blog-o-versary!

Continue reading “TWO YEARS (and a bit…)!”

America bound!

Well, our bags our nearly packed, the knitting (obviously the most important part) is just about sorted, and tomorrow, we fly!  I can’t wait to see my family and am so excited to spend Christmas and New Year with them, and hopefully, settling in for some serious knitting time with my mom and sister! I imagine I’ll pop in here and there (maybe to share some holiday cooking, or my mom and sister’s knitting, too!) but, before the hubbub of the holidays begins, I wanted to take a moment to wish all of you a happy and peaceful festive season!

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This picture is actually from my trip to Manchester last week, but no less knitting has been packed! 

Hope all’s well in your corner of the world — thanks, as always, for spending a bit of your time with me!

xo K