Alcea Jumper

Alcea Jumper

My goal was to obtain a flatter fabric prior to blocking. When I do stranded knitting, the fabric is bumpy in places; not to worry as they all go flat when washed. But, nonetheless, I don’t like it and I wanted to achieve a flatter and more even fabric. I know that when I use both hands that the right hand pulls more tightly than the left and it was difficult to overcome that. Intuitively, I felt that I should be holding both strands of colour in my left hand so I decided to learn to knit that fashion. It wasn’t too difficult except for the flow of the wools. The “stickiness” of the Shetland wools made the strands ball up and I was constantly having to reposition the strands in my hand. I just couldn’t suss how to hold each strand until I found these UTube instructional videos:

I ended up holding one strand differently than shown and one as demonstrated; this did the trick and I can now knit so swiftly in this fashion. The fabric is so much smoother, I got the recommended gauge (32 stitche/10cm) before and after washing and blocking. In addition, I didn’t have to worry all the time about “smocking” as I found it was easy to prevent with this method. The real challenge I had was keeping the floats of the design colour from being too loose. I had read somewhere that it’s better that a float be too loose than too tight.

This pattern is from the book “Simply Shetland Three” and called the Alcea Jumper. It is pictured in the book on both a guy and a gal which is unusual for a garment. It is knit in a 3.25 mm needle. The pattern repeat is 48 stitches and 48 rows. The colour changes are easy with frequent opportunities to carry up the unused colour. There are some long stretches of the same colour (the longest is 17 stitches). The colourway has a dozen fabulous colours, many of which are heathered. The wools I used are the Jamieson (not J&S) from the Shetland Islands. I bought the book and wools from Anne at in Canada.

I love the colours and the pattern of the jumper but I particularly like the basque. It is done in the opposite fashion which I’ve done in the past and I like it much better. Usually, the background stitches are purled and the design stitches knitted. But, here it’s the opposite for a very beautiful effect.

There are two errors in the pattern, both about amounts of wools needed. It calls for 1 skein of colour #186 and I used 1.5 skeins. It also calls for 4 skeins of colour #235 and I used just over 2.5 skeins.

As for the photos, I can’t seem to do a good job getting the colours. I have tried to enhance two of them so that you can see the colours better. The colours are not bright.

Image icon Alcea worn.jpg84.3 KB
Image icon colour enhanced.jpg207.42 KB
Image icon colour enhanced 2.jpg114.57 KB


ronhuber's picture

Well, Jesse, it is absolutely gorgeous. What a beautiful design. I wondered where you were. Now I know. Perfecting your technique and doing wonderful work.

This is just amazing! I've just started Fair Isle and have issues with bumpyness. Thanks for the links and the details of the garment in your description. Always looking for new yarn sources.

The detail of the jumper is gorgeous.


MichaelJames's picture

ABSOLUTELY STUNNING! I just discovered the Jamieson Gems and purchased all of the books! They are absolutely BEAUTIFUL...equal if not better than Starmore, in my opinion, and AVAILABLE! I am sorry I didn't discover them first! Oh well.
Thank you so much for sharing. You've chosen one of my absolute favorite desings and done it great justice! AMAZING!


Very impressive. Looks absolutely beautiful.

Another fabulous fair isle.Both the design and colour are gorgeous. Glad to see you back.

Mnjack's picture

It is beautiful. I love the pattern. What is the form you have it on ? Do you use that to block ?

Donski's picture

Just cant get my head round how you do that... I have to stop looking at this site as I now have dozens of things I want to learn and just not enough hours :)
Thanks for inspiring me anyhow :)

stef's picture

It's a stunning piece of work, Jesse - as your work always is. Nice to see you back

Aaronknits's picture

Since stunning, gorgeous, amazing, beautiful, wonderful, and fabulous have been used already, and all are true, there's not much more that I can add that hasn't already been said.

I know, it's JESSE-LICIOUS!

You rock the Fair Isle!!!

Kerry's picture

Jesse, that is beautiful. Now we know why you have been so quiet at MWK recently.

crmartin's picture

Amazingly beautiful, that is a work of art!