... isn't ready, by a long shot. The poor thing has had a rocky start in life.
It all began with my continuous effort to turn the best of my stash into honest-to-goodness knitwear. This Rowan Scottish Tweed DK (discontinued a while ago, it goes without saying) was bought a few years ago, bit impulsively, on the basis of its red perfection. The photo above doesn't do it justice. Picture a true red with just a drop of dark blue, enough to make it a deep, rich scarlet. I knew I wanted to make it into a sweater. The shop only had six skeins left, so I took them all home along with a couple of skeins in a dark grey colorway, with no particular plan in mind. (Note to self: not a good idea).
This past fall, I finally decided that it was time to put this yarn to the test. I found a compatible tweed wool in a light grey that could play very nicely with the other two. At last a sweater could be made, if I could figure out a decent way to combine all three colors. I wanted to avoid stripes at least on the torso, so it soon dawned on me that I should knit the body first, in red, and see where my measly 6 skeins took me.
Top-down knitting to the rescue! This technique is really the knitter's friend when one is unsure of how much yarn a project will take. I decided to knit myself a top-down pullover with set-in sleeves. Fortunately for me, Ann Budd's new, excellent book on the subject had just come out, a very worthwhile investment that I recommend highly. It explains every type of top-down sweater in details, give the reader a number of nice finishing touches to contemplate, and includes a few patterns, all very attractive and eminently wearable, in addition to Ann Budd's unique formulas for sweaters in every gauge and size.
The only catch is that the charts cover only a broad variety of gauges, while my swatch gauge inevitably falls somewhere in between two size-categories. I made my own calculations and adjustments and cast on. I knitted the back to the armscye, then picked up stitches at the shoulder and knitted the front to the same point, then started knitting in rounds.
The benefit of this construction, as any knitter knows, is that one can try the sweater in progress to see if it fits properly. The major drawback is that if, by chance, the fit is then discovered to be wrong, one has a lot of frogging to do. In my case, the top halves of both back and front.
My initial cast-on took place around December 1st. On December 8th, I decided that the sweater was going to be much too wide. I frogged and started again with fewer stitches on the needle.
On December 15, a full week later, nagging thoughts compelled me to try the sweater again. Still too roomy. I wasn't crazy about the V-neck I had opted for, anyway. A new frog-fest was in order.
I am now on my third try, more or less cruising along, and just an inch or so from the bottom ribbing, with an improved fit and a round neck opening which will become a (grey) turtleneck collar. With about one and a half skeins of red wool to go, I find myself at a cross in the road. Do I finish the body ribbing in red? Or do I switch to grey stripes for the ribbing? The sleeves will most likely be knit in the lighter grey with a long ribbed section using the darker grey. Any idea of what would make more sense or be more flattering? I am ready to entertain all suggestions, other than "just make it a vest." I need sleeves on this thing. It is going to look a bit sporty, a bit homey, but I am fine with that.
Suggestions, advice and Rav links most welcome, dear readers.
I finally found a model who was ready and willing to model one of my few recent FO's today, so I can go beyond shawl-on-the -couch shots and really show off this piece, finished in August, blocked in September and languishing on a shelf ever since. I call it my checkerboard wrap.
A smiling, gorgeous model never hurts when displaying a modest home-made project; this is Sarah, my oldest daughter, mother of infinity-scarf-model Lola. As for the wrap, it started life in the Spring of 2010, but I had bought the yarn long before. Sometime in the early years of this millenium, I visited Artfibers in San Francisco and fell in love with this silk yarn called Siam. The colorway reminded me of a favorite dessert, strawberries mixed with cream, and I came home with a whole cone, determined to knit a sweater with this luscious fiber.
This was before Ravelry, in the days when researching other projects that had used the same yarn took some extensive googling, and what I did find on a couple of blogs was not very promising; knitters commented on the way their project would grow and stretch beyond their control. On my end, I swatched and was not inspired. I gave up on the thought of a sweater and dreamed of a lace shawl instead, but the thick and thin texture of the yarn gave me pause. During my years of procrastination, Ravelry got its start, I joined and checked comments on Siam periodically. Still I postponed casting on, until my guilt at having this gorgeous, unused cone of pink goodness in my stash finally propelled me to action.
My swatching showed me that the yarn really wanted to bias badly. That made finding the right stitch pattern a bit more challenging. After discarding several other ideas, I made up this checkerboard texture which turned out to be just right: 10 stitches of stockinette alternating with 10 stitches of reverse stockinette, with the sequence reversed every 12 rows. I added a slim border (3 stitches) and I was off.
Once it was on the needles, the only reason the whole project took so long is that it was a bit boring, and that the bulky cone prevented it from being a good travel project. I must have knitted about half in the summer of 2010; then it languished in my knitting basket until I resolved to complete it this past summer. Once I made up my mind, it went very fast.
The final shawl is about 86" long. During the blocking phase it grew in width as well as length, and now I wish it had been a bit narrower. Oh, well. Blocking made the silk fabric even more drapey -- this is one elegant, slinky wrap. I felt that it needed a dramatic finishing touch so I gave it four extra-long tassels for good measure.