The idea for this pattern first germinated after I published Griffin. I then knit the first prototype in February 2013 but it was one of those sample knits where things didn't quite go to plan and I ran out of yarn. Rather than admitting that the yardage chicken had beaten me fairly and squarely, I used all my resources and tricks to get that sample finished. Contrast colour for the pocket, hem, arm and hood edging. I might have even shaved an inch of length of the body. While I had a finished knit, it wasn't quite the sample I wanted to photograph as there was perhaps a bit too much contrast going on. So it got put aside while I got endlessly distracted by shinier newer ideas. I am totally hopeless like that.
I'm not sure what made me revisit the pattern, which incidently had sat there in a fully written and graded state all this time. It was perhaps the push from a couple of eager knitters. They'd seen the sample photos, they were keen for the knit. Thank you eager knitters, sometimes the push from you guys is just what I need to get back on the right track!
With this revisit, however, I decided there were a couple of things that I wanted to change or revise. The first thing was the front yoke. In the original, it's all stocking stitch with just the one row of garter at the bottom where it joins. I wanted there to be something a bit more to the yoke and it took me a while to settle on texture. This broken rib stitch seemed just perfect as it provided texture without too much fiddly detail.
I quite liked the idea of the contrast I used in the original Samwelle, but it wasn't quite balanced. Using a couple of different colours always works well for those knitting from stash. Most knitters have got a couple of skeins of colours lying around, so this is perfect for using up those type of skeins; the ones you might have stashed to knit a cardie or jumper when your kids were smaller. And then they grew. And you didn't get around to knitting it. And now 200g isn't enough for a jumper. Or maybe that's just me that has that happen to them?
Anyway, contrast, let's get back to the contrast. I decided to keep the arm and hood but lose the hemline. That's what I like to call getting rid of the "bon-bon" effect (detail at both ends ~ not so good for balance) I liked the idea of the pocket picking up some contrast but the whole pocket was a bit much. Stripes, as always, was the answer. It's amazing how often in life stripes is the answer. So I striped the pocket and after than it just seemed right to stripe the hood too.
Of course, if you wanted to there is no reason that you couldn't knit Samwelle all in the one colour.
So let's talk construction, as that's the really fun bit here.
Samwelle is knit from the top-down, just like the majority of my patterns. It begins with some saddle shoulders. Not just your typical saddle shoulders though. I got a bit frustrated at the stop and start nature of those and all the seemingly unnecessary ends it created. The approach used here, is rather unorthodox but it creates saddle shoulders and the back all in one process; no stop and start and no extra ends to weave in. And yes, this was indeed a technique borne out of my quest for lazier knitting. Lazy knitters don't like to weave in too many ends.
So this all in one saddle shoulder approach gets the vest going and the broken rib keeps it interesting for the yoke. The stripes on the kangaroo pocket break up a quick stint of stocking stitch in the round. I love this way of doing kangaroo pockets - again it's a process that seeks to minimise end weaving.
Once the body is knit it's up to the hood with a continuation of the stripes. The hood itself, used shaping similar to a sock to create the shape. I love this way of constructing a hood, it really does lend itself to creating such a perfect shaped hood.
From there it's some quick ribbing and a rolled edge (lazy knitter's i-cord edging) to finish the edging.
And that's it, Samwelle is knit up in the blink of an eye.
I knit the sample in Swans Island Natural Colour Merino Worsted at a tension of 18 stitches and 26 rows. This is what I would call a lighter worsted weight yarn so it does provide the garment with a bit of drape and means it's not too thick or cumbersome for kids. Kids don't really like a lot of weight in their garments. It would work equally well in something like Quince and Co's Lark.
The Swans Island is an interesting yarn, it is dyed on an organic base and I absolutely love that all these colours are natural dyed. However, like many American processed merinos, it does have a certain cottony feel to it that makes it hard to equate it to being the same base as the buttery softness of the Australian merino brands such as WOOLganics and White Gum Wool. I've noticed this with a couple of the American processed merinos I've used and I've wondered if it's due to the processing or different growing conditions or even something else. Can anyone shed some light on this for me? (It doesn't mean I don't like Swans Island, I do. It's just a very different yarn in the way it behaves to in comparison to the merino I'm used to)
Samwelle is now available for purchase at both Ravelry and Love Knitting.