Big Jimmy Jab knitalong week 1 – German short rows

One of the things I really love about the Big Jimmy Jab jumper is how sneakily simple it is.

I say “sneakily”, because it looks like it’s going to be a bit of a fancy knit, what with that colourwork yoke and all. I’ll talk soon about how the colourwork is actually infinitely easier than it looks, but today, in the very first week of the knitalong, I’m going to talk about German short rows.

I’ve talked about German short rows before, see because I absolutely love them. I use them all the bloomin’ time, for all sorts of things. But in the Big Jimmy Jab, they’ve got a very simple purpose. And they appear early on in the knitting, which is why I’m talking about them now.

Short rows sound scary. What are they?

What short rows are is, in fact, not at all scary. The simplest way to explain them is this:

Short rows are where you only knit part of a row, before turning your work and knitting back the other way.

Not scary, see? You have to do a little bit of jiggery-pokery after you turn your work, but it’s the easiest jiggery-pokery you’ll ever do.

The point of that jiggery-pokery? It stops a hole forming when you go back to knitting across the full width of your work.

How do you work a German short row?

Handily, I’ve already done a little video tutorial on YouTube showing exactly how to work German short rows. So, when you get to that point in the Big Jimmy Jab pattern, watch it and you’ll know exactly what to do.

Plus the video features our dear old cat Matilda. So if I can’t entice you with that then…well. I’m not sure we can be friends.

What do the German short rows do in the Big Jimmy Jab?

They serve a very simple purpose – and one that you’ll find in a lot of sweater designs. Working these short rows at the back of the neckline raises that back neckline a bit.

Take a look at the start of my Big Jimmy Jab in the photo above. See how the circle of knitting is a bit thicker at the top than the bottom? That’s because of the short rows. They’ve added a lovely little wedge of extra fabric at the back of the neck.

And that wedge of fabric may seem unimportant, but it makes a big difference to the fit of your jumper. It has the effect of of creating a bit of a slope to the neckline, so it’s not coming up too high at the front and getting a bit uncomfortable on the neck.

And it makes it easier to work out which is the front and which is the back. Which is always helpful.

Want to join in with the Big Jimmy Jab knitalong?

It’s really easy to come join the fun. All you need to do is post a photo of your project with on Instagram with the hashtag #bigjimmyjabKAL

Everyone who uses the tag will get entered into a draw to win free patterns, with a big prize of a £35 voucher to use at lovely yarn shop No Frills Knitting.

The knitalong is running til the end of May, so you’ve got plenty of time to join in.

Big Jimmy Jab Knitalong

I published my new sweater pattern, the Big Jimmy Jab jumper, at the start of February. And to celebrate, I’m hosting a knitalong (or KAL, if you’re down with the knitting lingo). It’s all kicking off on Monday 28 February with a zoom cast-on party at 8pm (UK time) – although you can join in at any time.

What the heck is a knitalong and how do I join in?

Simply put, it’s a bunch of people knitting the same people at the same time and sharing their progress. I’m hosting this one over on Instagram, using the #bigjimmyjabkal hashtag. To join in, all you’ve got to do is post a picture (or reel, if you’re feeling a bit fancy) of your project using that tag.

If you need to grab a copy of the pattern then you can do that on Ravelry or Payhip.

Why the Big Jimmy Jab?

I really bloomin’ love the Big Jimmy Jab jumper. It’s pretty much the ultimate in “way easier than it looks” – it has all the appearance of a fancy colourwork jumper, with none of the actual stranded colourwork.

It’s top-down, it’s seamless, it’s size-inclusive, and it’s got an optional bust adjustment that means you can knit a jumper that properly fits even if you’ve got massive norks.

And there’s a miniature version in the form of original Jimmy Jab Jumper (fun fact: if you buy both the Big Jimmy Jab and the original Jimmy Jab then you get a 27% discount on the patterns).

Frankly, why wouldn’t I host a knitalong for it?

But I’m a beginner knitter. Is the Big Jimmy Jab jumper simple enough for me to knit?

Oh, this is one of the great joys of the Big Jimmy Jab Jumper. It’s an exceedingly straightforward knit, and a great choice of first sweater.

If you can cast on, cast off, knit, purl, increase, and decrease, then you can knit this. You’ll need to work in the round, but that’s actually infinitely easy than it sounds; all you do is just keep knitting. Plus I’ll be sharing lots of hints and tips along the way so that even if you get stuck, you’ll have help and support to get through it.

It looks like it’s got colourwork. Is that actually easy to knit?

Here’s the (not actually secret) secret about the Big Jimmy Jab jumper; that’s not stranded colourwork.

The yoke is worked using a technique that’s officially called mosaic knitting, but I like to think of it as stripes with ideas above their station. You’re only ever knitting with one colour at a time, you see, and all the fancy-looking effect is created by slipping stitches. Which is just moving a stitch from one needle to the other without actually doing anything at it at all.

So if you can join in a new yarn – which you can, because you just start knitting with it and then sew the ends in later – then you can totally knit that not-actually-colourwork-colourwork. And if you still don’t believe me, then I’ll be sharing some tutorials during the KAL to just really prove my point.

What yarn do I need?

The Big Jimmy Jab uses DK-weight yarn, so you’ve got a whole load of options to pick from. I worked my red sample in DyeBath Merino mix 250 from Wool in Bath, which is a spectacularly good value hand-dyed yarn. I knitted the size 4 with the bust adjustment, and only needed two skeins.

My pink sample was knitted using West Yorkshire Spinners Croft DK, but any yarn that knits to gauge will do.

And those little stripes are great for using up scraps; the pattern even gives you a breakdown of exactly how much you need for each stripe in each size.

Are there any prizes?

Why yes indeed. Once the KAL comes to an end at the end of May I’ll be holding a random draw of all entrants to win free patterns, or a £35 voucher from No Frills Knitting. Because obviously the thing all knitters always need is more yarn. Always. There’s never enough yarn.

Fancy joining in? Then you can sign up for the Zoom cast-on party now – or just post on Instagram using the #bigjimmyjabkal

And yes, if you’ve already started your version then you can absolutely just start tagging your posts with that and I’ll very much allow it. I’m just so very kind.