Gerda Pullover

This is the Gerda Pullover from the pattern book “Simply Shetland 2”. It has a lovely blue, gray, white, green colourway of 8 colours. It is knitted on 3.25 mm circular needles with Jamieson 2 ply knitting wools which I sourced from Camilla Farms in Canada. The gauge is 32 stitches per 10 cm. I knitted it in the round and did steeks so there are no sewn seams. I also continued with my technique of holding both strands in the left hand and knitting continental fashion. I used this as an experimental project to test different ways of carrying unused colours up the underside of the garment. I couldn’t find anything that worked well so I went back to weaving the unused colour out and bringing it back when it was needed again. This is an easy pattern to hold in the memory (but, I am positive there is an error in the pattern for the collar), making it a quick knit. I recommend this as a good project for those beginning to do stranded knitting.

From the photo of me wearing it, it looks like two of me could fit into it. I weigh 10 stone 8 and this is a medium size jumper. I got spot on gauge when I was knitting but after blocking it on the woolly horse I got about 36 stitches to 10 cm. But, even that doesn’t account for the huge size. I’m wondering if anyone has experience with re-washing stranded knitting after the initial blocking. Does it need blocking again or does it keep flat? I’m thinking about washing it again and then trying it on to see if it fits better. But, I guess it’s not such a big deal as I only wear my knitted jumpers once and then they go into the cupboard.

The knitting wools for the next jumper should arrive any day so I can begin another fairisle jumper. While I wait, I’m knitting another pair of socks. Now, those I do wear!

Oh yes, I still can’t take good pics. The colours are warm and soft with the lovely green accent running though at intervals.

Image icon Gerda 2.JPG94.92 KB
Image icon Gerda 3.JPG150.54 KB


albert's picture

Nice to see you again, Jesse! This colorway is gorgeous, and the knitting is exquisite. That must be a bottomless cupboard you have- you've knit a lot of sweaters! I'm curious as to how you define "a quick knit"?

New York Built's picture

Jesse, your technique and color selection is dead on target. Excellent job. I think you have made beautiful fabric.

The problem with the sizing will probably not go away. Stranded knitting done with little shaping to accommodate ALL sizes of wearers with ALL the possible ease included is a designer solution, but as you realize, not the best. You do have to modify designs for your frame or the wearer's frame, since few of us actually fit the standard models of off-the-rack sizing.

I am stunned if you really do wear it once and then put it away. Why not just forget doing the sleeves, pack it up with foam, and call it a pillow?

Blocking will help a little bit, but the folds at the shoulders and at the arms says there is too much fabric there. Not a bad thing as a layer to other clothing, or as a casual sweater.

I have solved the problem two using different needle sizes to bet smaller gauge in some areas. In stranded knitting with steeks, this can be a life-saver with a particular pattern. I have also modified the number of stitches to reduce the size, to allow blocking to "stretch" more in an area that is not large enough for comfort. Far easier than trying to shrink.

In addition, stranded knitted fabric is more like boiled wool, or felt...little drape, thicker texture since the double weave, and less knitted netting to give and stretch. In my experience, it can look like someone pulled an empty cereal box over you and called it a garment. Warm as hell, but not the cutting edge of fitted clothing.

You obviously learned quite a bit with this project. Remeasure yourself and compare to the designer's measurements and you will see the difference immediately. This is my understanding of all patterns...they are merely guides, not the truth. Your actual measurements are the reality.

“There are those that do and those that don’t”
“Those that will and those that won’t”

Every person I encounter teaches me more about myself. Without whom not.

kiwiknitter's picture

The problem with this type of jumper is the drop shoulder design. I don’t care for them at all and every time I do a stranded project I say I’m going to do an armhole with reductions to shape it but then I never do. The fairisle vests I’ve knitted with such a shaped armhole always fit much better. I agree with you that there is too much fabric at the shoulders but that is directly related to the drop sleeves. I have measured my chest and by all rights I should wear a medium. But, you’d never know it from the jumpers! The corrugated ribbing of the basque also causes problems as there is no fit; hence, the “cereal box” look. You’re right about the stranded fabric having little drape to it and being without much stretch.

I have also used a smaller sizing and stretched it to size. This seems to work pretty well and I’m considering knitting the small size when my new project materials arrive. This was, and may well still be, a trick that the thrifty Shetland Island knitters used to make the knitting wools go further.

It is true that I don’t wear any of the garments that I knit – except on a rare occasion. I do have a lot of them but very few of them have ever been worn more than once. I enjoy knitting and love the colours, technique and “bonding” with knitters past, present and future. But, because I am never really happy with my knitting workmanship I find I don’t have any desire to wear my garments except for a beanie, scarf and socks. Recently we moved house and my partner unpacked my clothes. When he saw how many jumpers I’ve knitted (in various styles but mostly fairisle) he began to nag me to wear them. He reminded me that most he’d never seen except on the needles.

Thanks for your comments. I appreciate your technical advice.

Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn't try it on.  ~Billy Connolly

albert's picture

Jesse, I did a sweater with a square armhole a while back (check my blog entries) which came out fitting quite nicely. If you're interested, pm me and I can email you the pdf instructions . It would be somewhat challenging in stranded as the sleeve cap involves a bit of back-and-forth knitting, but you might find it interesting.

New York Built's picture


Thank you for your kind words.

One other technique might be useful to you. Did you know that you can steek the shoulders to get a reduced width, stay in pattern, and get a more shaped fit?

When you near the arm holes, reduce the width of the body slightly with holding yarns (to try this, use EZ's method of 8% of the stitches, on both sides at the armholes. Then, do the armhole steeks with this little pouch at the bottom. At the neckline, you can do another steek to create your neck opening, doing gradual reductions along the steek edges to create the curve for your neckline and head opening.

Now comes the trick. Measure the distance between the steeked top of the armholes. Divide this measurement by 3, and bind off the first third of stitches on one shoulder side, and knit to the end of your row in pattern. At the end of the row, steek over to the other side of the shoulder, bind off this sides first third and continue in pattern. Cross over again to where the bound off stitches ended, bind off this second third of stiches, knit the other side and continue on binding off in thirds. Alternating back and forth, you will build six rows of descending size, creating a wide "triangle" closer in shape to your shoulders than the straight line most stranded boxy designs create. Your steeked neckline remains in place, just remember to keep steeking it as well.

The shoulders will look downright weird at this point, pulled and twisted by this steeking in thirds across the shoulders. But when you open the steeks, the elegance and efficiency of this technique is pure poetry.

Open your steeks at the armholes, shoulders and neckline and seam up.

As per albert's suggestions, may I suggest learning how to knit backwards to be able to create short rows in stranded knitting even if you knit two handed with multiple strands? You will become fearless with your knitting, and be able to knit a fit-in sleeve in stranded knitting picking up the stiches as you need to build a sleeve cap.

Those thrifty North Sea knitters did this as well, as evidenced by Viking knitting and some historical accounts.

I found this so liberating, you have no idea.


“There are those that do and those that don’t”
“Those that will and those that won’t”

Every person I encounter teaches me more about myself. Without whom not.

kiwiknitter's picture

Thanks for the steek suggestion. I’m going to give it a try on a future jumper. It sounds like it will be effective – if only I can do the maths properly (but, that’s another story)!

I can, but rarely do, knit backwards. A sleeve cap is also a good suggestion.

Another thing I’ve done is knitted the dropsleeve and then shaped the armhole by cutting away the fabric as one might do with a woven cloth. This is not a very practical method as it wastes both knitting wool and the time taken in knitting the fabric. But, it has worked.

An interesting note: yesterday, someone suggested that I simply pull down on the garment in the back to make it fit better. I did this today and what do you know – it worked beautifully! The jumper looks 100% better on me and doesn’t appear so large. Such a simple solution! I was so excited about it that I actually wore the Gerda jumper when I walked to our village shops this morning.

Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn't try it on.  ~Billy Connolly

Kerry's picture

Beautiful sweater Jesse, I thought you had been a bit quiet lately and now I can see why. Great work.

ronhuber's picture

Another beautiful sweater, Jesse. I really like the soft colours on this one. I think every Fair Isle sweater is a unique piece of art.

rjcb3's picture

Welcome back Jesse!!!

I always look forward to see what new work that you're going to post.

This is magnificent.

Hope to see more of you soon. Missed you.


Welcome back Jesse - I wondered what had happened to you. I really like this sweater and the colourway is beautiful.

crmartin's picture




kiwiknitter's picture

Thank you. I think this could easily be knit in 6 weeks. The pattern is easy, there are only 8 colours and there are bands of solid colour between the design rows.

Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn't try it on.  ~Billy Connolly

MMario's picture

Is the colour shift as subtle "live" as in the photos?

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

kiwiknitter's picture

Hi Mario, Yes, the colourway is subtle with only the green (sort-of an aquamarine) as the contrasting colour. Jesse

Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn't try it on.  ~Billy Connolly

albert's picture

Jesse, I'll need an email address to forward the pattern to you. I don't know of any way to post it here- I've tried, but the website doesn't accept the file.