Between late January and early April I worked on the Dusseldorf Aran, as a brightly coloured respite from the winter and a “someone else’s pattern” respite from my own design work. I enjoyed it. I would have liked to have finished it a bit sooner, and gotten some winter wear out of it this past season, but I’m pleased enough that it will be waiting for me in my closet come October.
It’s a lovely pattern (Fiona Ellis, for Interweave Knits Winter 2009), and the pleated sleeves are completely fun. Granted, they are also a bit less practical, and this won’t be a sweater to wear while, say, washing dishes in the sink, but it’ll be a nice warm and dressy sweater all the same. The yarn is Ultra Alpaca from Berocco, in a stubbornly bright magenta shade that I found at Stitch in Jordan Station, Niagara, last year. I brought the pattern and materials with me to the Vogue Knitting Live event just to use as a reference for a sweater class with Anne Hanson, and then back in my hotel room later on I thought, “you know, I actually want that sweater. I will cast on right now!” So I did. I made a few modifications – lengthening the torso by about an inch and a half or so, lowering the neckline slightly, and adjusting to a smaller size than normal to account for my slightly looser gauge than what the pattern called for. It worked out well.
I hear a lot from knitters who consider sweaters to be in the “wow that’s hard, one day I’ll do that” category. And I get it – a sweater is a commitment. This is more time and yarn than many other kinds of projects. But it’s all incremental. Casting on – check your gauge, check your measurements and size. Choose where you’re going to modify the pattern, if you have to. (Hint: your body may not be the same body as the one in the pattern schematic.) Then move on to the hem, then the decreases, and before you know it you’ve finished the body and are moving onto the sleeves.
Then the finishing looms, but then you do it and when you’ve sewn up the seams and woven in any ends, then you have a sweater. I often think the reason I procrastinate the most on the finishing stage (seriously, it could be a single skein shawl with only 2 ends to weave in, and I’ll leave it for a week until I get around to sewing them in), is because then the project isn’t a project any more, it’s a garment and I don’t get to knit it any more. Which is odd since I actually really love getting to move on and choose the next project, but I suppose it’s some weird way that my subconscious says “hey, you LIKE the knitting part, remember? Let’s make it last longer!”
Anyway, I like sweaters. Socks and other accessories have colonized so much of my knitting in the last year or two that sweaters often get left aside, and I would like to knit more of them. Really, they are the best example of knitted satisfaction – in a sea of commercially-made sweaters that don’t fit you exactly right and aren’t made in the materials you prefer or the colours you might choose for yourself, the knitted sweater is the best example I can think of, of knitters wielding their power to make their closet more satisfying. Heck, I bet Tim Gunn just wishes he had a shelf full of handknit sweaters. It sometimes takes a sweater or two to get there – like anything else in knitting, the first results are often less than perfect. But it doesn’t mean you can’t get there with a little effort.
So if you’ll excuse me, I think I’m going to go have a visit with my stash and ponder more sweaters. Who cares that summer is around the corner? Happy Monday!