I still have a few recent FO's to share, but today I thought I'd wander off from accessories and into real, honest-to-goodness sweater-making. After knitting a whole lot of scarves and blankets lately, I felt nostalgic for fronts and backs and sleeves and button-bands. This coincided with the massive undertaking otherwise known as cleaning the garage, which doubles (rather poorly these days, but that's another story) as my knitting and sewing "studio", with huge quotation marks. The garage is where I store my stash as well as my sewing-machine and most of my patterns and books when I am not using them. We won't go into why they keep migrating into the house, especially by my bedside and on the coffee-table by the TV. They are not supposed to do that. They are supposed to live in the garage until the moment when they are pressed into duty, and not a minute earlier.
So, puttering around the stash corner recently, I found a box from long ago, with a shipping label from Elann.com. Inside the box were bags of Elann's own denim cotton, a very close cousin to Rowan's own famed denim yarn, which I had snapped during a rare sale. For years I had held on to this yarn while studying various patterns and failing to make up my mind.
This wasn't my maiden-voyage with denim cotton. I had made a pullover, Seahorse , from the first Rowan denim book about ten years ago. I still wear this pullover frequently because denim cotton is practically an all-season yarn when one lives in California, but the sizing is huge all over, by design, and feels a bit too retro for that reason. Also, the shade of cotton I had used, a medium blue, simply doesn't look very good when worn with blue jeans, which tend to be my uniform.
This stash yarn, on the other hand, was all the more precious because I had been able to secure the darkest blue denim cotton, which looks good with anything, and which was available only sporadically from Elann. I remember how I had pounced as soon as I had received an email notifying me that the yarn was in stock at long last. Even though I often see my stash as a problem to be solved, in this case at least, there was no buyer's remorse, ever, and these many years later, I am thrilled to find myself in possession of such a treasure.
As for a pattern, I wanted one with a more fitted style than those offered in the first Rowan Denim book. After hours spent on Ravelry and poring over my stash of patterns, I settled on "Haven", a cabled cardigan designed by Kim Hargreaves specifically for this yarn and published in "Rowan Denim People". By now the book is out of print but the pattern is now available as a PDF. I am going to skip the belt because that's just not the way I would wear a cardigan, but otherwise I am following the pattern straight through with no adjustments.
By and large, this is a classic design, with ribbed cables practically popping off the background and the seed stitch edging so typical of Kim Hargreaves's designs. I should note that the pattern was designed specifically with the shrinking rate of denim cotton in mind, so that each piece is extra long -- the underarm decreases only occur past 23", so knitting the back has been a long slug. It didn't help that there appears to be a mistake in the pattern instructions, on the row where the cables cross. Unfortunately, this is a rare Rowan pattern with no chart, only worded instructions, which meant that I had visual information to help me sort out the confusing line-by-line instructions. I did eventually find my own way (and I will spell it out clearly when I write project notes on Ravelry once this sweater is completed) but not before frogging and reknitting yards and yards of denim cotton.
One full month later, I feel I have finally hit my stride with this one, to the point where I am reluctant to pick up other projects still on the needles. But I still have sore feelings about our difficult beginning and I am wondering if "Twisted" wouldn't be a more appropriate name than "Haven", given the utter absence of serenity involved in the early stages of this project. The final project had better be worth the trouble -- she said, sarcastically.