Finally, after much time, my husband received his long promised handspun jumper and we are both delighted with the result. To start with there was a lot of debate about what to put on the front of it. I wanted it to be an attractive and easy enough design for me to be able to replicate in yarn and for him to be willing to wear. The idea of a white horse came whilst driving through the Wiltshire countryside where there are a number of them carved into the chalky hillsides. We decided to use the Uffington White Horse as not only is this the oldest of all of the white horses (hails from the Bronze Age from 1380 – 550 BCE) but it also has quite a basic, but uniquely identifiable, outline.
To get the design I used a sketch from William Plenderleath which I found available on Wikipedia (William Plenderleath in The White Horses of the West of England, 1892).
I placed graph paper over a print of the Plenderleath’s illustration and traced the outline of the horse. This gave me a pattern to follow to achieve a similar image in yarn. I spent some time knitting just the horse to see if it was achievable and was really happy with the outcome. I knew that when it came to working on the real jumper that I would need to take care about the floats to the rear of the knitting. It was important to make sure that they did not pull or become too loose.
To knit this jumper I had to spin a lot of alpaca fleece. I kept having mammoth carding and spinning sessions thinking that I had a sufficient amount but I kept having to go back to the spinning wheel.
The actual garment construction was quite straight forward. It needed to be loose at the bottom, achieved with stocking stitch, and it needed a round neck and cuffs which I worked in K1P1 rib. Being from handspun alpaca (thank you Bootsy and Bert for your massive contributions) it was knit in 2 large pieces back and front. I did this so that it would give more definition to the shaping of the body as I didn’t want it to skew or drape awkwardly. I had planned to also knit the sleeves in pieces but it just didn’t work out as well as I would have liked so, being drop sleeves, I simply picked up the stitches around the sleeve opening and knitted down to the cuff. This worked out really well as I was able to measure it for size against the new owner.
From start to finish this took about six months to complete – there was a bit of a break at Christmas and New Year, but I am really delighted with this garment. It was a really enjoyable knit and it looks so good on my husband. I get tremendous satisfaction when I see him wearing it.