It’s a long time since I designed and knit any clothing on my Brother knitting machine. Being in isolation in the countryside has given me time away from our busy workshop and space to create.
I’ve put together a few images of the processes involved in creating a garment from scratch, along with a bit of an explanation. I hope you enjoy seeing the all of the stages involved and it might inspire you to dust off the knitting machine and get creative!
Design, pattern and colours
When Maw Wonky and I started knitting at home in 2010, we knit jumpers and dresses in an array of colours and patterns. Mum recently found a cardigan she made in the 90’s and I love the shape. This gave me a template to use as a base and with some guidance from Maw Wonky, I was able to make adjustments to fit me.
If you don’t have a garment that you can use as a template, try Pinterest for inspiration and knitting patterns that you can download. Sorry, you’re about to lose 4 hours of your day!
The Wonky pattern is the Wonky Woolies combination of chevrons, cross hatch and waves which we’ve developed into a collection of accessories. I love this pattern as the look changes so much with different layouts and colours. Last year we launched our wonky headbands, which I wear all the time, so this was a great place for me to start.
Being isolated at home, you would think resources might be limited. However, when you live next door to Maw Wonky, this is not a problem! Not one to throw things away, her knitting room is full of wool and yarn. Each cone has it’s own story with rare shades of blended wool dating back to the days of mum’s knitting shop in Melrose.
I finally decide upon classic colours for my cardigan, which are timeless and complementary. It always takes me so long to pick colours and work out the best combinations, there are so many options! My fibre of choice is Shetland wool, its a bit scratchier than fine lambswool but I love it and a hardy wool lives up to my outdoor robust lifestyle, so I’m all in! I’m excited to get knitting as I can now start to visualise my cardigan and I know it will be totally unique. I realise this is probably the wrong way round to design things but hey ho, that’s why we’re Wonky Woolies!
When I first started knitting, Maw Wonky bought me a Brother knitting machine with a ribber attachment. I still use my trusty Betty, that’s her name, she’s 42 years old and going strong!
It’s been about 3 years since I looked at the ribber attachment though. This was one of those moments to walk away, have a think and come back later! It takes time to remember all of the steps involved in using the ribber and Maw Wonky even had to resort to the instruction manual (WHAT?!) before we cracked it. At this point I wrote down a step by step check list so that next time I could refer back to it and easily make the perfect ribbed cuff.
Once I had knit the 2 fronts, the back, 2 arms and the ribs for the body it was time to link them together so I could go back to the machine and knit on the button bands. Linking is the process of joining two pieces together, you can of course sew them by hand but the linker makes a smooth finish and is a quicker process.
In the workshop we have 2 industrial linkers but we started Wonky Woolies using the Hague tabletop linker, which is always handy to have. I enjoy linking, there are lots of pieces to put together in the puzzle of a cardigan. If you’re not careful though you could end up with a panel sewn on the wrong way round!
I love this button box as it belonged to my Gran. When I was little I played with it all the time, I would tip the buttons onto the floor and sort them into coordinating piles. Such an organised child!
I found 3 sets of buttons to finish off my home made cardigan perfectly. The wooden ones are actually from the first cardigan my mum knit for my dad, which I didn’t realise until I showed her. The patterned ones were from one of my Gran’s many coats and also one of my mum’s lovely jackets. Having that family connection, makes them such a lovely addition to my cardigan.
Into the wash
As wool contains lanolin it can irritate the skin, so all wool products are washed before they reach their new home. The washing process can also shrink the product so it is important to test this prior to washing. You can knit a little strip, measure it and wash it to see what happens. I didn’t do this (obvs) and I was a bit concerned about shrinkage! However, as I had used a washed cardigan as a template I knew it wouldn’t be far off.
My wool cardigan
Tah Dah! Introducing my unique homemade wool cardigan. I’m really happy with the fit and the colours go with so many things. Being made from wool, I know it is going to last forever and will remind me of this unusual time of our lives. Now that I’ve forgotten about the wool snapping and my knitting falling off the machine 3 times, I consider this isolation knitting project a success!
If you have any questions about machine knitting, wool types, linking techniques or this cardigan, please get in touch. I really enjoyed knitting it and in doing so it has given me the confidence to try knitting other things. I am also open to commissions! Let me know if you would like to discuss ideas for your own Wonky wool cardigan or jumper (no button holes yey!).
All the best, Alison