Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Yeah, I Did

To continue (you never dreamed I could milk a grey sweater for three posts, did you?):

I really did lose the original chart. I think it's probably somewhere in my Temporary Storage Locker (formerly known as the Dining Room), but I'm not about to disassemble that fragile ecosystem. I made a semi-valiant attempt, a sort of scratching about the edges of the thing, but determined pretty quickly that I was courting disaster at best. At worst, the EPA would have been all over me.

Then The Nephew had to go and get accepted at Grad School. Shouldn't he have his sweater before he goes? Would a Loving Aunt send him off to the wilds of Higher Education without a sweater? Yes he should. And no, she wouldn't.

The obvious solution was to go back to the sample sweater with which I had been entrusted, check the measurements, pull out the books and start again. Presumably this time I would end up with something I would like - at least well enough that I wouldn't have to lay it aside for months before I could convince myself it was worth knitting.

Behold, Chart #2. On real knitting graph paper, even.

Here was something that would work, I thought. Here was a sweater I would just love to knit. With this chart, Priscilla and Gladys at my side, I could produce a Knitted Wonder. I got as far as knitting the front and back welts. I even achieved the first join.

Then I did that thinking thing again. First, I bought Knits Men Want by Bruce Weinstein (photographed by Jared Flood) and read through it. I quote:

"Rule #2: Men Resist Change. . . . If he's over 15, he's probably got his style locked in - and he likes it."

Then I took a good look at the sweater he had given me. At which point I figured I might as well lose Chart #2.

I can't quite bring myself to knit a fine-gauge, v-neck, grey sweater entirely in K1P1 rib. Is it any surprise, though, that I'm knitting an EZ Hybrid Sweater? For my knitting excitement, this time I think I'll knit saddle shoulders instead of the Shirt Yoke variation.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Easy as Pie

First off, let's establish that pie is not easy. Anyone who has ever made pie from scratch will tell you it is a process fraught with danger, a theater of high drama indeed, resulting in a dessert that gladdens the eye and heart or a tough, soggy, bitter-tasting disappointment of no small order. Forget the salt and you're eating mushy fruit in baked wall-paper paste. Don't ask how I know. Hey, I was a newly-wed at the time.

Precisely so, the quest for the simple grey sweater was not without its pitfalls. This is, in part, due to my nature. Just as I can never follow a recipe for pie exactly (I do not approve of skimpy pie filling), I can never make the simple straightforward knitting choice. It seems the path must always be convoluted. Twisty is the only way I know how to go.

Back when all this started, when I began to realize The Nephew was serious, I was fired by ambition. I would do some Real Knitting. I would knit a gansey, or at least gansey-style. With this goal I bought up what I think of as key texts (I can't help it; I was indoctrinated at an early age to research and original sources): Beth Brown-Reisel's Knitting Ganseys, Gladys Thompson's Patterns for Guernseys, Jerseys and Arans, Sabine Domnick's Cables, Diamonds and Herringbone, and Priscilla Gibson-Roberts Knitting in the Old Way. Over the months I added XRX's Arans and Celtics and Alice Starmore's Fisherman's Sweaters.

I am so contrary. None of the patterns pleased me. Or if the pattern pleased me, I didn't like the construction. I wanted to knit the sweater in the traditional method, which meant in the round from the bottom up, split for the front and back yokes, join the shoulders and finally knit the sleeves in the round from the top down. This wiped out the XRX book. I didn't (and don't) like the wide necklines on the Alice Starmore sweaters. The Beth Brown Reisel patterns were mostly for children and women. That left me with Gladys and Priscilla, nether of which was big on actually giving a pattern to knit a whole sweater.

That's okay, I thought, I can be an Intrepid Knitter. I decided to go really traditional and make up my own. I charted out a knit-purl pattern for the yoke that pleased me, planned a welt instead of ribbing for the waistband and studied up on gussets. I had the yarn. I had the swatch. I adjusted for stitch and row count.

Then I set it aside to incubate or marinate or something. And then I lost the chart.

Strawberry rhubarb, anyone?

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

I Have So Been Knitting

Right around the time I posted last month, it occurred to me that a summer of, "Here's a square," and "Oh, look. Another square," followed by "Surprise! I started a square," might not make for the most fascinating summer blog reading.

I began to cast about for a supplemental project, something to relieve that endless iteration, to vary the fugue on one note. Perhaps I could pull something out of the archives. I could knit on a project that I had been ignoring. One I had seemingly given up on. One that will let me take a high moral ground as I knit with stash yarn and clear out a knitting promise. It can't be Their Father's sweater - I still haven't resolved my cable up the front but not the back issues. An afghan in the summer seemed foolhardy to the point of madness.

Ah yes, just the thing. The Nephew's Grey Sweater.

Because nothing says fascinating summer blogging like miles of stockinette stitch in dark grey yarn.