Ormolu

IMG_6668It’s been awhile since my last Wearability Wednesday post.  In that one, I discussed being so disillusioned with a garment, that I ripped it out and re-used the yarn.  This month, I will switch tables and show you one of my all-time favorite knits, something I wear ALL OF THE TIME and love to pieces.  This is the beautiful pullover, Ormolu, designed by Barbara Gregory for Twist Collective.

The photo above was taken by Emma when I finished knitting the pullover in February 2011.  I really think the fit is lovely.  These days, knitters tend to make fitted sweaters by knitting them in one piece and trying on constantly while knitting to fit; this one is knit the old fashioned way – in four pieces, which are then seamed together.  This means that fitting it properly entails taking very thorough measurements, taking your time to make and wash a proper sized gauge swatch, using a tape measure obsessively throughout, trusting in yourself, trusting the designer, and keeping your fingers crossed.

(I can tell that these photos were taken two years ago, because although I wear Ormolu constantly, I can no longer zip up the skirt in the above photo; alas!)  You can see in the above some of the lovely shaping details along the sides.  Many fitted  sweaters today I think look beautiful from the front and gap in the back; this one truly fits, from every angle.  The moral – Knitters, don’t be afraid to seam!

The pattern is very well written.  Barbara Gregory has done a lot to promote this slip stitch colourwork technique, in which only one colour is used on a row.  It produces intricate-looking mosaic colour patterns with considerably less work than Fair Isle.  This is the same knitting technique, by the way, used in the Brick sweater which I knit for Doug.  If you want to do colourwork but Fair Isle intimidates you, I would urge you to try this technique first.  My favorite part of the pattern is the neckline, in which a third colour is incorporated, to really great effect.

And, because we knitters always want to see the reverse side, here you go:

I used Rowan RYC Cashsoft DK in purple and navy.  I had a difficult time picking out a colour for the neck detail.  The yarn I ended up using (which unfortunately, I failed to either write down or keep the ball band) looked fairly brown and boring on its own.   I was aiming for gold, but all of the yellows looked too brass, and the browns looked too, well, brown.  So, I tried a lot of options: here are three of them:

I am glad that I went with the golden hue.  When knit with the navy and purple, it really looks like gold, and makes me think of fine metalwork.  This was obviously the inspiration for Barbara, as you can tell from the pattern’s name.  From Wikipedia:

Ormolu /ˈɔrməl/ (from French or moulu, signifying ground or pounded gold) is an 18th-century English term for applying finely ground, high-carat gold in a mercury amalgam to an object of bronze.

IMG_6700It took me 11 months to knit this from cast on to cast off; quite a lot of time.  Despite this, it is not a difficult sweater to knit.  Much of this was due to emotional turbulence.  This is the sweater that I was knitting when my sister called me to tell me that my Dad was dying.   I sat by his bedside, alternately holding his hand and knitting this sweater.  Afterwards, I found it hard to work on, and put it away for a few months before pulling it out again.  This is one of the things that I like most about knitting, that each piece has memories attached to it, of where you were in life while knitting it.  I wear this sweater all of the time, and every time I pull it on, I think of my Dad.  I think that’s pretty cool.

I made a few minor modifications to the pattern, which I detailed on my Ravelry page, but I will copy them here, for those of you who may be interested:

  1. I knit all the right side stitches – no purl bumps.
  2. I added waist shaping. The pattern called for 6 waist decreases, followed by six increases for the bust. I made 8 pairs of decreases, followed by 10 pairs of increases. This means that I had 4 extra stitches on each side when I got to the bust, making it midway between the size 38 1/2 and the size 41 1/2. This gave the sweater zero ease.
  3. I loved the garter stitch ridges that Barbara designed; however, I found that they wouldn’t stop rolling. After knitting about 6 inches of the front, I decided that I wouldn’t be happy with the edges rolling up all of the time, and I ripped out and started again, this time using seed stitch instead of garter. I also used seed stitch for the neckband.
  4. I made it longer. I was aiming for an extra inch and a half, but somehow ended up with an extra 3 inches. I started the decrease pairs on row 24 instead of row 14 of Chart 2.

I fear that I have gotten carried away here.  This post is a Wearability Wednesday post, after all, and here I am blathering on about construction details.  However, this pullover pre-dates my blog so I thought it necessary to give a little background on the project itself before I move on to the important issue of Wearability.

IMG_6687As I stated above, I wear this a lot.  I dress it up; I dress it down.  I wear it to work; I wear it grocery shopping; I wear it to go on long walks.  This is fabulously easy one-stop dressing, and is the thing that I reach for when I want to look good but don’t have time to fuss.  I often wear it with jeans, or with a denim skirt.  I usually pair it with navy trousers and heels, as in the photo at the top of this post.

I have a necklace that looks perfect with it, as if they were designed to wear together.  Interestingly, this necklace is the first piece of jewelry I ever bought for myself.  I was a teenager when I bought it.  It is a reproduction of a piece from the collection of the Metropolitan Museum in New York.  I used to live a block away from the museum and I had a yearly entry pass; I practically lived there.  I saw this piece in the museum shop and had to have it; at the time it was an expensive purchase.  That was over thirty years ago, and I still love this piece.  (I wish that all of my purchases were so timeless.)

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My only issue with the wear of this sweater is that it pills.  It is not an out of control pilling; but definitely there.  The yarn (which has been discontinued) is a blend of Merino, microfibre and cashmere.   I am not sure which yarn I would use if I were to knit it again, but I would definitely check on the pilling issue before I picked one.

IMG_6701IMG_6702If I had to choose the 5 most successful pieces in my knitted wardrobe, Ormolu would definitely be among them.  I think its success is due to the fact that it is comfortable and warm, easy to accessorize, and has a wow! factor while still being very un-fussy.  The photos in this post have been taken over three winters, and during that time I have never lost interest in this piece.

I once had a few sessions with a stylist about exploring my personal style.  I wore the Ormolu pullover to one of these sessions, and she told me that it would look fabulous with a camel skirt. I don’t know why this never occurred to me.   I have been looking for the perfect camel skirt to wear with it ever since.  In fact, I have put off doing a Wearability Wednesday post about Ormolu, in the hopes of finding the skirt first so I can show you what a brilliant combination it is.  I want a wool camel skirt that comes to just above the knee, with box pleats front and back.  Some day, I will find just the right skirt and maybe that will necessitate a further post, but until then, I will keep the navy vibe going.

We are about to depart on a family holiday, so I won’t post on the weekend, but will return soon after a week in the sun!

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5 thoughts on “Ormolu

  1. The fit is lovely. I especially like in the first photo how you look like you’re wearing a bona fide outfit. It’s nice when the joy of making translates into personal style, which I guess is the point of this feature!

    I really like your blog, but I find your vocal disdain of circular knitting weirdly off-putting. You prefer knitting flat and seaming, I get it. You feel like you get a better fit with that method, check. I think it’s possible to praise specific patterns from multiple perspectives–construction, color work, shaping, etc.–without also disparaging techniques that other knitters prefer. As a side note, I don’t see why “old” or “traditional” equals better in general. Further, is it even true that seaming is traditional? The book “Knitting in the Old Way” espouses knitting in the round, for example. Everyone knits differently; I think that is glorious.

    • Hi, I think you may have misunderstood me. Since starting the blog I have knit and documented 11 sweaters from start to finish. Only one of those (Smoulder) has been knit in pieces and seamed. Of the two sweaters I am currently making, the Exeter jacket is also knit in pieces. On my Ravelry pages, I have documented 34 sweaters – 9 of these were knit and pieces and seamed and the other 25 have been knit in one piece in the round. I like both of these techniques; I think they serve different purposes with different kinds of sweaters. My comments have not been intended to project disdain for knitting in the round. I find it off-putting that so many knitters are adamantly opposed to seaming and my comments are meant only to suggest that seaming can be a very good technique, and that we shouldn’t limit ourselves. (I shouldn’t have equated seaming with traditional, however.) Thanks for your comments. I think knitting is glorious in all of its permutations.

      • Thanks for clarifying. I think it’s just a silly for knitters to think seamless is better as the other way around.

  2. This is a magnificent sweater! I can see why it is your favourite!

    I prefer to knit in pieces and seam as all in one sweaters make me feel like I am wrestling with a giant yarn octopus on my lap lol!

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