Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Fitting Sweater

As luck would have it, last year a nearby yarn store happened to be having their annual sale on my birthday weekend. And my father happened to go to dinner at a restaurant next door the night before the sale started and saw them getting everything ready. In previous years I have sent my father to a yarn store and told him to pick out anything he thought I might like and that would be my birthday present. It worked out quite well because he has an artist's eye and picks out things I like and would not have normally looked at myself. Seeing that this yarn store was going to have a sale and that my birthday was coming up around the bend he did the smart thing and got me a gift certificate.

To this day I think it is one of the best yarn related gifts I have ever gotten. This particular store carries some luscious things which are rarely in my budget. Last year, however, armed with a gift certificate and a sale, I was free to really shop. I saw a bag of 10 balls of Rowan Scottish Aran Tweed in a deep blue tweedy jeans color and quietly put it in my little hand basket. (And by quietly I mean I snatched it out of the bin and might have let out a squee of delight to the puzzlement of the other shoppers.) Periodically while shopping I would take it out of my basket, stare at all the pretty and think about its possibilities. What would I make out of it? A sweater for sure, but which one? Since a Rowan yarn sweater was now actually in a price bracket that was reasonable instead of astronomical, the bag became one of the things I purchased that day.

But what sweater to make? A little research on Ravelry revealed that the yarn produced nice cables. I found a pullover that I really liked in one of my Interweave magazines called the Dovetail Pullover by Kathy Zimmerman. I wanted the sweater to have cables, but not too many cables as I live in Southern California and the yarn is 100% wool. Even though I did quite the search, I think I knew in my heart all along that I really wanted to turn this yarn into The Truffle.

The problem with The Truffle pattern is that it wasn't a pattern, it was a tutorial. The person who wrote it was essentially copying a sweater she saw in a store and wanted to preserve the rights of the person who originally designed the sweater, which I can respect. This is the link I have to the tutorial, but there is currently nothing on the blog. It reminds me of how important it is to save articles from the Internet that you want to refer back to because you never know when they might disappear.

I talked with some knitting friends online about which sweater to make. Should I go for the one with a pattern or the one with a tutorial that will involve lots of doing of the maths and be much harder and that I was afraid I would never finish? A friend rightly pointed out that if I chose the Dovetail I would always be looking over my shoulder and wondering about that other sweater. I would forever wonder what that other sweater would have been like. And it is likely that I would regret not even giving The Truffle a try.

And so I did the math. I made seven swatches for this sweater. I measured myself and a sweater that I liked that fit me. I made target measurements. I did more maths. And it worked. It worked! It fits like it really was tailored for me.

Since the blog is no longer up to tell you about the construction, here are the basics. The yoke is knit first using short rows to make a circle while staying in the cable pattern. Then the bottom of the sweater is cast on, knit in rib and then switched to the body cable pattern. One of the reasons I liked this sweater for this yarn is that the back is entirely seed stitch, so not as hot as if it had been cabled as well. I added waist shaping. The back and front sides are shaped to fit the yoke curve. Basic sleeves are also knit in seed stitch. I used the Knitter's Handy Guide to Sweater Patterns as a reference here and for the armhole decreases on the body. A small collar is knit by picking up stitches around the top of the yoke. Stitches are then picked up along the length of the front opening to make the ribbed button band. I blocked and then added on snaps.

Things I learned from this sweater:
  • Swatching really works.
  • I can knit a sweater in three months.
  • Measuring and knitting on gauge actually results in measurements that fit.
  • Sleeve caps and armholes can be fudged a bit and still look great.
  • This is the use for learning math in school that is actually applicable in my life.
  • I can design a cable if I want to.
  • I'm really awesome! My knitting has come a long, long way.

Friday, August 6, 2010

To Be Moving

The photograph above is an explanation, a reason, an excuse for my not so consistent blogging. I have moved! My life is still mostly in boxes and the furniture is coming tomorrow. Currently the choices of living room seating consist of a bean bag chair, an office chair, or a sofa cushion.

It is just beginning to sink in that I am currently living with the person I love dearest in this world. While in the hustle and rush of moving I became absorbed with the minutiae, with the packing, taping, moving, and unpacking of boxes. Last night was the first night I waited up for Terri to come home from work. And now we are sharing a closet. And our shampoos and conditioners are commingling. And the fridge holds her magnets and mine. A multitude of little things pulling me into the reality of living together. I wonder at how I got so lucky.

Last month I finished two knitting projects. One was a repeat knit and the other was a sweater that I am prodigiously proud of. More on those a little later.