Monday, July 08, 2013

Waking the Sleeping Giant

Speaking of unearthing. 

This all started over two years ago.  I had been wildly irresponsible, in a yarn-ish  sort of way, and bought an entire dyelot of Briar Rose Fibers Wistful and needed to justify it. I saw Spud Says Hi's  "Last Gasp of Winter" blanket, a.k.a. "Embellished Squares" (pattern is still here). It seemed ideal.  So what if hers was based on self-striping yarn and my yarn was merely variegated? It was beautifully variegated, so I told myself.  Besides, a pattern that increased every other row was guaranteed to ward off the bane of almost all varicolored yarn - pooling.

Well, we all know what happens to projects that start out with an excess of optimism and justification, and my blanket was not immune.  First, and very early on, came the part where I decided Spud knew something I didn't and I would need to find a way to break up the yarn into stripes.  I'm sure coming across Carol Sunday's yarn at Knitche had nothing to do with the decision.

All went swimmingly through the first 500 yard skein of Wistful.  And seemingly through almost all of the second, for that matter.  Which is when I took a good look at it and relearned the lesson of hand-dyed artisan yarn most emphatically.  The second skein, though equally beautiful, did not match the first and no amount of arguing would change that fact.

Disheartened, I set the blanket aside.  Every now and then, when tossing the stash or scrounging for a simple half-finished project, I would disturb the mammoth, sigh despondently, and move on.  I knew it would eventually need to be frogged, but it was a pretty good size.  Well, not to put too fine a point on it, it was huge. Massive. Gargantuan, even. We're talking 1000 yards of the Wistful and several hundred yards of various Sunday Knits solids.  Going forward seemed pointless, but going back was overwhelming, so it would sink back into the depths.

Periodically, I would try to devise clever and creative schemes for finishing it.  I could rip back the second skein, buy more Sunday knits fingering yarns in the solids that I used and double-strand to camouflage the visual discord.  I could rip it back and use the second skein for the border, trusting that the change from stockinette to garter-stitch would disguise the color change.  I would tell myself I could bind it off and give it away and whoever got it would just be stuck with the mismatched dyelots, too intimidated by the vast amount of knitting to do anything but drape it over a chair whenever I came visiting; it would at least be out of the house.

Imagine my surprise then, this past winter, when it broke surface again. I noticed what I had never noticed before.  By introducing the solid color contrasting stripes, I had separated the two skeins.  I had, in fact, already performed that sleight of hand that turned the not-quite-the same skeins into a design element. 

So I wound up the final 500 yard skein and I've been knitting away at that garter-stitch border (because I am not entirely confident that I will forgive this blanket for a third variation) ever since.

Leviathan that it is, rather than unearthing perhaps, like humpback whales,  it breached. Both the surface and my defenses.