The Life of (Crochet) Riley

The Riley Sweater

Say Hello to the Riley Jumper!

Or would you call it a sweater? I will probably use them interchangeably here but they are essentially the same thing. Here in the UK, Riley is a jumper. To my US chums and other worldly friends, I think it’d most likely be a sweater. Whatever you call it this is a crochet pullover (?!) that is sure to keep you warm as the season changes and the weather gets a bit more chill.

Get Your Hands on the Crochet Pattern

As usual, rather than make you jump through hoops, I’ll leave the info right up top. To get a copy of Riley (V2), pop over to Ravelry, Etsy or Lovecrafts, whichever is your fave place to shop for crochet patterns. This jumper is size inclusive for nine different sizes.

The crochet pattern is written and available in both US & UK terms. I don’t always get round to doing this (soz See My Vest) but given that this one uses a few different stitches (in a fun way) I thought it would be helpful for all makers.

Riley crochet sweater by Zeens and Roger
Riley, a Crochet jumper by Zeens and Roger

The Life Story of Crochet Riley

The incarnation I’m giving most of the attention to here is not the first Riley jumper. No it is not. Last year I was asked by Inside Crochet magazine if I was interested in designing a cosy sweater of simple construction with some lovely wintery colours in it. I think they asked me because they know I love chucking loads of random colours together to create peculiar rainbow palettes.

The first Riley

Riley was, at first, a frosty mornings sort of jumper. Something warm and cosy for January temps when the skies threaten, or promise, snow (yay, snow!). The colours didn’t go as far as bleak mid winter vibes but they weren’t totally into fiery fiestas either. I finished Riley V1 last October and in January of this year it was the front cover star of Inside Crochet magazine! It looked fab, it really did! It still looks fab. I will no doubt wear it again and again, much like I did last winter. But there were things I wanted to change…

Riley on the front cover of Inside Crochet!
Riley, a fun crochet jumper!

Adjusting a Handmade Garment

Here’s the thing, designers are never satisfied. There is never a moment when a design is as perfect as it could be. Designers are always striving to make one last tweak, one extra adjustment. Unfortunately there comes a time when you must accept that it is time to step back and say a project is finished. I had to do that with the first Riley but when August came to an end and I stumbled upon my leftover stash of chunky yarn, I had this idea that I needed to make an autumn version. So I did. But with tweaks.

The main differences between 1 & 2 are the colours, the stripe depth, and the sleeves.

If there are any changes you feel you want to make then go for it! Crochet, and making your own clothes in general should always have an element of freedom to change if that’s what you want. We all have different bodies and making adaptations to suit personal preference is all part of the joy of handmade.

Main Design Tweaks

Colours? So yes, mostly I had yarn in stash leftover from jumper number one but I swapped out three or four colours to liven up the palette. Simple. Job done. Obviously makers can choose their own shades should they wish, it’s great that handmade has this flexibilty. Go for whatever colours you want!

The body count (stitch count of the body that is) remains the same. It’s the stripes I changed. I wanted to know what more stripes looked like. Stripes that weren’t so deep so that I could squeeze more in and therefore get more of a colour party happening.

The depth of stripes is also up for mixing and matching but obviously has an impact on the amount of yarn required for each. More stripes means more texture, which is a win in my book. This is achieved by the front post stitches. Everytime a colour changes occurs, they are introduced and it creates superb little ridges and pops of colour. Another win, don’t you think?!

In the pattern I have only given the yardage/metereage for what I have done. I’d be here for weeks if I worked out every possibilty, Not prepared to do that I’m afraid. But the option for playing around is there if you want.

The last, and biggest, difference between versions is the sleeves. Upon giving Riley V1 its first proper bath, it stretched a little bit further beyond my initial blocking. Not horrendously, just enough that the sleeves (always the overstretch culprits!) covered hands almost to the finger tips. This didn’t surprise me in the slightest as it was intended to be a slouchy fit and as per the brief, long, digit tickling sleeves were part of the remit. Nevertheless, day to day wear? Bit annoying if sleeves are in your breakfast so I knocked off a few rows to accommodate.

Colourful crochet sweater

More on the Sleeves

I’ve also changed the stitch count on the sleeves a little bit. Not so much that it’s obvious, it’s important to keep the oversized nature of them. But here was the problem: I struggled to squeeze my arms into my favourite winter coat. There was way too much bulk in the upper arm.

My advice would be to read the measurements of the sleeves in the crochet pattern to determine what you want to go for. You don’t necessarily have to rely of the size you’re making if you want a snugger fit. However, do note that the upper arm depth is already a couple of centimetres smaller than the original.

I’m hoping Riley V2 fits inside my fave coat now. At the beginning of the year, when I forced my arms inside that coat, I had the bulky appearance of a muscle man. We’d been watching Henry Cavill in the Witcher and I looked just like him, I swear! So yeah, sleeves are improved.

Chunky, Woolly Yarn

For both jumpers I used Re:Treat by West Yorkshire Spinners. (This is an affiliate link which means rather than Lovecrafts getting all your money a percentage of it comes to me instead with no extra cost to you).

The colours are gorgeous and very modern. I really liked using a roving yarn in the design, just the glide through the fingers was enough for me to be sold but once worked into a fabric it is also incredibly warm. I would definitely recommend giving this yarn a go, but if you wanted to use something else, try visiting Yarn Sub. Here’s a direct link to the Re:treat in case you fancied checking out some alternatives.

The Photoshoot

Photo shoots for my crochet designs are sometimes great fun, sometimes not. As has happened before, I rather bossily turned a lovely family weekend walk into a crochet fashion shoot (see the Dreckly mittens blog post – one of my fave posts ever by the way. I was in a very silly mood that day!) I did it for the January Hues hats too, and others, so it is a bit of a habit. It’s not always fun for the kids as they get fed up with their mother stopping countless times for good light and taking “just one more” picture in case all the others are a disaster. The husband also has to take a big sigh every time I expect him to read my mind about how the composition should be set up. He’s often the designated pusher of (camera) buttons.

I did think about sharing some additional pics of where we were but this would be a very long blog post if I did that. Maybe there needs to be a separate one for those? It is a very pretty part of Devon, all we need to do is walk a little bit out of town and there’s countryside. A story for another day I think.

Anyway, I very nearly forgot to say! Riley has nothing to do with the ubiquitous “Life of” I’m afraid. Riley is named after British artist, Bridget Riley. It’s all the stripes you see. Google her name and you’ll see what I mean. She’s cool.

PS If you have scrolled to the bottom looking for the pattern, the links to my shops are at the top! But since you’re here: Ravelry, Etsy, Lovecrafts is where you will find my crochet designs. And don’t forget to share your makes on Instagram!

PPS. Cheers! xx

Zeens and Roger wearing a Crochet jumper
Living the Life of Riley.

3 thoughts on “The Life of (Crochet) Riley

  1. I did smile at your reference of dragging your family along for crochet photoshoots because I’m totally guilty of doing the same – they share the same sighs! Fab sweater / jumper / pullover – love the colour combo you’ve put together.

  2. I love it! This makes me feel inspired to make one similar! What I think is so funny is that you were the first one who explained to me what a โ€œjumperโ€ was, because Iโ€™d heard it mentioned in my Agatha Christie audio books and couldnโ€™t figure out what they were referring to. ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

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