Munro Sweater - Vintage Shetland Project

Say hello to my FIRST. FAIR ISLE. SWEATER!

This has been one of the most enjoyable, learning-filled knitting projects that I've ever done! I loved watching the design grow row by row, and I tried out new techniques that I'd never used before, mainly steeks.

(TLDR details at the bottom!)

The Vintage Shetland Project
This pattern comes from The Vintage Shetland Project book by Susan Crawford, one of my dearest books in my collection! It is a treasure trove of historical info on Fair Isle/Shetland knitting in the first half of the 20th century, and I appreciate the incredible amount of research that's gone into it. It's a hardback, thick book that will be in my library for years to come. Helpful as both a reference and pattern book, it's got loads of pictures showing the various projects and high quality production. I also love that, since it's a modern book of reproduction projects, each garment has several size options available. That's a *huge* advantage over true vintage patterns. I also appreciate having modern yarn recommendations and needle sizes. It takes the guesswork out of the project that usually goes with vintage patterns.

The Munro Pattern
I chose this pattern because I thought it would be a simpler project to get used to Shetland knitting techniques, and I was right! The sweater vest has very little shaping, so there weren't *too* many things to keep track of at once. I found the instructions thorough, and the designs are shown in charts customized for each size. They're easy to follow.

The Techniques
A couple techniques were new to me, especially those relating to steeking

"In knitting, “steek” is an old Scottish word that refers to a specific group of extra stitches that are for future cutting. A steek is often used to create an opening (like the front of a cardigan or an armhole) or a place to attach another piece (such as a sleeve). Steeks are primarily used in circularly knit garments and are closely associated with stranded colorwork, like Fair Isle. Steeking makes it possible to create the colorwork in the round (much easier than flat!) and to then transform the tube into a vest, cardigan or Henley."
- Purl Soho

Now that I've done it, I LOVE STEEKING. No purling, no flipping work, no trying to do stranded colorwork on the wrong side. It's amazing! It's like generations of knitters have figured it out!

That being said, steeking is also terrifying. You have to CUT your knitting. It's scary. The night after I cut my steeks, I literally dreamed that they all unraveled and my sweater fell to pieces. The next day, I reinforced my hand-finished steeks with machine stitching, haha! 

Here are some tutorials I found useful for this part of the process:
How to Steek for the Absolute Beginner by Sheep Among Wolves

Hand Reinforced Steek video by jjones209 on Youtube
Tutorial: How to Steek by The Twisted Yarn

If you're knew to Fair Isle knitting, I highly recommend this pattern as a starting point. While it's definitely not for a knitting beginner, if you're an experienced knitter that wants to get into a different knitting niche, the whole Vintage Shetland Project book will challenge you while also offering the resources you need to succeed!

TLDR knitting details
Yarn: Jamieson & Smith 2 ply jumper weight, 100% Shetland Wool (shades 080, 016, 002, FC24, 004)
Needles: various circular needle sets (in pattern instructions)
Pattern: "Munro" Sweater, from The Vintage Shetland Project by Susan Crawford
Year: 1930s
Notions: none
How historically accurate is it?  Very accurate! Susan goes to great length to share history of Shetland knits and to source yarn recommendations very close to the original pieces.
Any tricky parts to the pattern?  Yes, there are a couple. There were several places I had to re-do a few times, but it was largely due to my inability to count stitches properly (argh). It was also my first time doing steeks, so that took getting used to! I shared links to resources I found helpful above in the post.  
Did you change anything?  Past Emileigh decided to shorten the bottom hem ribbing for some reason; I don't know why. Future Emileigh wouldn't do that again.
Time to complete: Many months, stopping and starting.
First worn: 1 July, just for photos because it's summer here!
Total cost: I won't lie... I bought all of the supplies over a year ago. I have no idea. I have a feeling it was a bit of a splurge because of the 100% wool, good yarn!
Notes: I love this pattern! I chose it hoping it would be a good Fair Isle/Shetland knitting beginner project, and it was. It introduces Fair Isle-specific techniques like steeking, but there is very little actual shaping to the garment, so it doesn't have too many complicated things going at once.

No comments