When I saw this sweater on Instagram, it was love at first sight! I’ve been looking to jump into more colourwork knitting in 2021, and Hanne Rimmen’s stunning Holly Sweater proved to be a great place to start. As I knit this in super squishy Drops Air, the sweater knit up quickly and was extra soft on the hands. This snuggly, classic piece has already had a lot of wear and is completely itch-free because it’s alpaca! Welcome to my Holly Sweater review.
The Holly Sweater is knit bottom-up and starts with the creation of the ribbed hem. The body is knit up with the option of increases and decreases to subtly shape the waist and bust. Once the body has been knit, the sleeves are worked separately in the round and also featured ribbing on the cuffs. Sleeves and body are then joined the create the lovely leaf pattern. Once the colourwork is done, makers have the option of creating a turtleneck or finishing with simple ribbing. As this sweater was released as a Christmas pattern, there is also an option of doing some sweet berry embroidery to complete the Holly leaf effect.
The pattern recommends using some rustic Icelandic Plotulopi wool, but this time I opted for something which wouldn’t itch against my neck as my skin can be sensitive. Drops Air was a natural choice as it came in the lovely and slightly heathered colours I was after while also being predominantly comprised of alpaca. I’m happy to report that the yarn is indeed itch-free (even when I made the mistake of wearing it on a particularly warm day here in Rome).
The other benefit of Drops Air is that is so light and breathable. Despite being a big snuggly colourwork jumper, I find that I don’t overheat too much when wearing it. My Holly Sweater will also be an ideal choice for packing when I go on a winter holiday as it’s almost weightless – I also feel like it’s a great piece to look polished in while feeling super comfy.
The only noticeable downsides to this sweater are that it does tend to grow slightly (an unavoidable trait of alpaca) and can be prone to a bit of creasing when sitting down.
How it knit up:
The Holly Sweater was a quick project with a satisfying (and stunning) colourwork yoke that flew off the needles in this aran weight yarn. I still consider myself a colourwork beginner but can feel I’ve made a massive leap forward in my stranded knitting (see my first colourwork project, the Altheda Sweater, for evidence of this!). The pattern for this sweater was clear and concise – it also introduced me to casting off underarm stitches to neatly seam together at the end for a clean finish. The only difficultly I encountered came from being slightly overzealous with catching floats (this is my paranoia telling me my tension will be off otherwise). Overall, I really enjoyed knitting the Holly Sweater and would recommend it to both advanced and beginner colourwork knitters.
Pattern specifics and sizing:
The Holly Sweater is available in sizes S to XXXL for busts from 33 – 55″ (or approximately 84 – 140cm. From the bust measurements I do get the sense that the sizes run a little bit small and would recommend sizing up. I knit this in size L because I wanted plenty of ease and a comfy oversize fit. The pattern also includes the options of the turtleneck and gentle waist shaping (both of which I followed).
The Holly Sweater is currently available in English and Danish.
Things I love about this pattern:
- Obviously, the colourwork yoke is absolutely stunning! It is truly elegant and I’ve received several complements when wearing it. The way that the leaves gently slope inwards as you work the decreases around the neck creates a very flattering effect when worn.
- The pattern contains several options which allow the maker to customise their piece to make it truly bespoke. These include choices with waist shaping, neck finish and additional festive embroidery. I wish more patterns would provide simple options like this – they really aid beginners in creating that perfect personalised look.
- The bottom-up construction was clearly explained and allowed me to practice some technical elements I don’t often use; knitting sleeves separately, underarm seaming and decreases to shape the neck and shoulders.
Things I would change:
- I struggled to understand whether decreases for the turtleneck were optional or recommended to recreate the look of the pattern picture. Having omitted increases, my turtleneck is slightly looser than expected. I do, however, really enjoy the feel of a slightly less constrictive neck.
- I found myself playing yarn chicken during the knitting of the neck and probably would have made it slightly longer if I didn’t run out of the lighter yarn. This is probably due to my gauge being a tad tighter than I initially thought when swatching.
- In future projects, I will watch out for stacking my caught floats. I was nervous about my tension being uneven when knitting the colourwork yoke, and therefore, caught my floats more frequently than I needed to. This causes some of the darker yarn to peek through in places when the fabric is stretched. Later in my project, I became more confident about my tension when carrying longer floats and noticed that this gapping issue disappeared.
Needles, Yarn & Details:
Yarn: Drops Air in Brown and Pearl Grey. Available from Wool Warehouse in the UK.
Needles: 4mm (US 6) and 4.5mm (US 7) circular needles and matching DPNs, if not using magic loop. I used my Lykke Set.
Gauge: 17 x 23 (I think that I knit slightly tighter than this, but the sweater still fits well)
Size: L (I recommend sizing up as I did)
Are you planning any pretty colourwork pieces? Have you made your own Holly Sweater? Let me know on my Instagram here. Or check out another of my sweater projects like the Monica Geller Tee (also knit bottom up) or my lovely colourwork yoke Altheda Sweater.
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