Saturday, August 26, 2006

A Swatch and a Prayer

One more time with feeling: Don't forget to get your entries in for the "Dumbest Knitting Mistake Contest" from my prior post. The deadline for entries is this Monday at midnight.

Now on to the fun talk!

I’ve completed the gauge swatch for my Fair Isle sweater. It’s still finishing blocking/drying, but I’ve got enough of an idea of the gauge now to move into more serious thought about the design for the sweater. Here’s the picture of the grand swatch:

Before I bore you with a few details about the design of this sweater, a quick note: If you go to my Etsy store to view the matching set of skeins in these colors that I mentioned in my last post, you’ll find that they are gone. And no, that doesn’t mean that someone quickly snapped them up for their very own creation. No, no, no. Rather, I had a sudden epiphany that I may indeed need more yarn for my own sweater than I originally thought. I don’t know what I was thinking – or apparently NOT thinking – but, of course, a stranded color sweater will require a great deal more yarn than a plain old vanilla sweater. With every stitch that’s knit, a second color is stranded behind the work and so – DUH – more yarn is needed.

To be truthful, this was not really an epiphany. An epiphany implies that I suddenly, miraculously had an amazing insight about the amount of yarn I will need. In truth, I was perusing an old issue of Knitter's - Knitting in Norway from way back in 1993 when I came across a pattern I always loved but have never gotten around to knitting. I noticed that the pattern calls for a total of somewhere in the neighborhood of 3000 yards of yarn! Now, I won’t need anywhere near that much yarn for my sweater, as this sweater from Knitting in Norway calls for a yarn that is practically laceweight, but just seeing the yardage gave me pause and I suddenly realized my rather significant oversight! (OK. While I’m being truthful, I suppose the reason that I never got around to knitting that beautiful sweater from this magazine is that it’s a 2-color stranded all-over patterned Norwegian sweater knit with LACEWEIGHT yarn. It’s apparently designed to drive knitters already on the brink of sanity – for what knitter considering such a project could be entirely sane? – over the edge and deep into the abyss of utter madness.)

As to my sweater, I’ve made a few key decisions. First, I’ve decided against what probably comes to most people’s minds when they think of Fair Isle, i.e. a sweater comprised of horizontal stripes of different patterned motifs, with colors changing along with the patterns, creating a wild mosaic that somehow comes together to create a beautiful, unified piece. I’ve abandoned the idea for this type of Fair Isle sweater because I fear that the horizontal patterns combined with horizontal colorwork will just be too much horizontal, if you know what I mean. My pear-shape just doesn’t cry out to be clad in horizontal stripes!

I’ve decided instead to go with vertical patterning. Hey, it's still Fair Isle. Just not what first leaps to mind when thinking of Fair Isle. The colors will still move horizontally, of course, but the patterning will move vertically. This is actually simpler to design, as there will only be a few motifs to select. I’m leaning toward one primary motif down the center (likely the one you see in the gauge swatch, except of course completed to a nice symmetrical repeat of some sort), with a brief “join” motif, and the sides of the sweater with an all-over patterned motif of a smaller size. Perhaps one horizontal motif around the bottom (which I will not rib … that pear-shape problem again influencing my choices here) and repeated again around the neck line (a little stand-up mock turtleneck perhaps?) and again around the bottom of the sleeves.

I’ve spent a bit of time now on the fun of counting and adding stitches in different motifs, searching for a good plan for pattern repeats to work in the grand scheme. Perhaps "fun" isn't the best word for this activity. Maybe "torture" would be better. It's a fine line ...

As I work through these necessary calculations and decisions, again the needles are crying “Cast On, Cast On! To hell with all of this planning. Cast on!”

My answer: Soon. Very soon. But all I have so far is a Swatch and a Prayer.


trek said...

But the swatch is quite nice!

loribird said...

It looks beautiful - I can't wait to see it progress!

barbp said...

That is very pretty.