Thursday, August 1, 2013

|| Open Season || Sweater Time

I love those moments when you decide to throw the directions out the window and to just off road it.  Until I get lost, that is...

Luckily for me,  I had some help with my knitting travels from the last chapters of Wendy Bernard's, Custom Knits, where I learned how to maneuver my way through the top-down sweater knitting.  It involves straight knitting on a circular needle and at some point joining the round with additional stitches.  It took my mind a bit to wrap around the idea, but once I started I immediately loved this technique.  

Of course, I have always been one to pick-up (or abandon) techniques if I they make more sense to me, even if at first they slow down progress rather than speed it up.  I felt that same way when I decided to abandon American (or English) knitting which involves throwing the yarn over to your opposite hand.  I had already been knitting for three years, throwing yarn happily over to my other hand.  I was so entrenched in my habit that my I was heart broken when my knitting guru, Elizabeth Zimmermann, wrote of her favored style, Continental (or "German") knitting in a book I was reading.

I made a few furtive steps towards this new, wild technique and, well, I fumbled.  I was absolutely terrible at it.  My stitches were either too tight or too lose.  And I was painfully slow as I tried to hold the yarn in way that I was totally unfamiliar with.  That night, after what seemed like hours of practice, I decided to give up on the technique.  

I woke up the next morning, slightly grumpy and more than a little vexed.  My fingers ached from forcing them to perform the same technique over and over.  I decided that I didn't want to touch yarn or needles for a while.  

Two days later I decided to knit.  My way.  After all, continental was weird and I didn't find it to be faster or particularly friendly in the end.  I picked up needles and prepared to solemnly, if not a little haughtily, knit.  And that was when I discovered an odd thing.  My way suddenly felt very stiff and rather cumbersome. Despite my speed, I could now feel the time lag when I had to "throw" my yarn and let my needle lag a bit.  

So, I grinned stupidly and began knitting my project using the continental style of knitting.  My end project was unraveled due to tension changes that could be viewed from the top of the eiffel tower, but I learned the knitting style that I still use today.  And I learned that knowing both styles is amazing for fair isle.  What had started out as some form of masochistic torture had turned into a PSA announcement for keeping an open mind.

It felt like a knitting a miracle, which is like a Christmas miracle except way better.  This sweater experience has been less torture and more contemplation.  I am approaching this sweater as a sort of wearable muslin.  If all goes well with this one, then who knows, I may get crazy and experiment with making more.  The only question I have is, what is the best way to buy a sheep farm for all the yarn I will be using?  I'd settle for a cotton farm, or let's be honest, a lifetime pass to any Local Yarn Store (LYS).  I hear those are very popular this season.