Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Challenge

I have been issued a challenge!

Some months ago, my darling daughter fell in love with some yarn that she found at a Spinners and Weavers convention. She texted me about it, sent me a photo of it – and it is gorgeous! – and asked if I could make her a sweater out of it. I asked, of course, what weight it was. She sent me a photo of an intricate lace shawl that had been knit out of it. Again, it was beautiful, but I feared that it was very fine yarn and could not imagine making a sweater with it. I told her that it was her duty to find a suitable pattern.

When the yarn at last arrived at my house, my fears were realized. It’s fingering weight!
We searched for sweater patterns that she liked. Needless to say, we found nothing. So the yarn sits in my cedar chest, un-used.

The other day, my darling daughter broached the subject of the yarn again. And, again, my fears swelled up. I envisioned rows of 200 stitches knit in very tiny needles. A swatch, I estimate, will take a good four hours to knit for gauge. A sweater would take months!

She drew a sketch of a simple tunic. With a hood. My eyebrows meshed for a moment with my hair line and I braced myself against an aspect of shear dread. Socks I could handle! But a sweater? A tunic, no less?

Then a vision began to form. The yarn is variegated in bright colours spanning the full spectrum of the rainbow. Spun and dyed in Denmark by Kauni, it is simply some of the most beautiful yarn I have ever seen. I see the finished tunic, edged in a simple moss stitch with short slits up the sides, slightly flared sleeves and a round neckline with a split down the centre. I vetoed the hood! Then I agreed to give it a go! (What have I done?)

I’m nearly finished a pair of socks for a dear friend. When those are complete, I will begin the process of swatching for gauge. Then we’ll take measurements and the real math will begin. I’ve never designed a sweater before. At least not one that I’ve actually attempted to knit; and certainly not one made with fingering weight yarn. This isn’t just a challenge. It’s a test!

The very idea scares the heck out of me. The yarn is not cheap, nor is it easy to come by. I daresay that if I make a mistake or miscalculate in any way, this sweater could be destined to end up being very expensive stuffing for a pillow!

Ah, well. I have to say that my daughter’s confidence in my ability is uplifting. I’m reasonably sure I can do it. I’m just dreading rows that take several minutes each to knit and weeks and weeks of repetitive stocking stitch without a change.

But first things first. The Math! The part I’m most looking forward to, oddly enough. While socks are easy and I can do most of the math in my head, a sweater is a very different story. This sweater needs to be slightly fitted. The sleeves will be dolman in style. The neckline will be rounded and split with a moss stitch edge to match the cuffs and bottom. Then there’s the seaming to consider. I am toying with the idea of knitting the body without seams and doing the fitting by evenly decreasing and increasing throughout the process. Not sure about that, though. That might be something best attempted on a project for myself. We’ll see how brave I feel when I get to that point.

Earlier this year, I set a goal for myself to finish the three sweater designs that I’ve had rolling around in my head for years. I haven’t done that. I’m hoping, if this is at all successful, that it will inspire me to take the plunge and get those sweaters made. One is a tunic. One is based on my favourite, but worn out, sweat shirt. The other is based on the Cowichan sweater design, but with a funkier and more colourful motif. Hmmmm.... Now I’m thinking again...

Well, before I can do any of this, I first have to finish the socks on my needles. I also have to get to work and earn some money so I can pay some bills so I can buy the yarn to make the sweaters. Hi-ho, hi-ho!

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