Wednesday, November 26, 2008


So, I got distracted again. I feel like the dog that one of my dear friends had in grad school. This dog's name was Romeo, and he'd be gleefully chasing a ball that we'd thrown, and then suddenly, out of the clear blue, he'd spy some new shiny object and he'd be off in another direction entirely, and we'd be left fetching the ball ourselves while he checked out the newest item of interest. We called him the Shiny Object Distraction Dog.

Apparently, I am the Shiny Object Distraction Knitter. What is the latest shiny object on my horizon, you ask? (And who is going to go chasing after my lost balls for me, I ask?)
Aren't they gorgeous? I can't for the life of me get the color of the yarn to come out right. It's gray today (it rained last night, it rained last night!!), and the light keeps coming and going randomly, but imagine that color less orangy, and deeper and richer, with more hints of gold, and you've got it.
Aren't they purty?

I finished the pair, even.
I love them. Truly, madly, deeply (I seem to say this a lot; what does this say about me?). The pattern is perfect; dainty without being too too, and they fit like a dream. And the yarn! The yarn is such a joy to work with. It's the Shivaya Naturals Silky Merino, in the sunset colorway, and it makes me happy. The best bit is that they'll go well with both browns and grays, which are my two base colors of choice, with a heavy leaning towards grays.

Which brings me to my next dilemma. This has actually been an issue of long standing. Ever since knitting my first sweater for one of the girls, which caused me to realize that I can, indeed, create actual garments, rather than only being able to make triangles and squares with strategically-placed holes in them, I have had it in my mind to knit myself The Sweater. You know, the sweater that can be worn all the time, anywhere, with anything. The one that, if you pack it for the weekend, you know you've got it covered. I already have a version of The Sweater, which I love very much. But it's starting to get beat up, and, moreover, it was purchased during my Baggy Stage, and isn't the most flattering garment in the world. (Alas.)
See what I mean? Not flattering. Not so good for work or dinners out. So, what I want -- what I really want -- is that sweater, except flattering and unique. (I don't ask for much, do I?)

I've been trying to distill the essence of the sweater for myself; this process reminds me a lot of my days in the naming and branding business, when we'd meet with a client who wanted a new name for her company or product or whatever, and we'd ask what kinds of names she might be interested in, and she'd say, "Something really unique, and absolutely perfect for us." Hmph.

So, to distill. I like the color of that sweater. I like its versatility; the fact that I can wear it with jeans, or with a skirt. Its shape is comfortable; I can move in it. It's lightweight but warm, so it can be layered. So far, so good; these are traits I can build from.

The next step, then, has always been to find the right yarn. What I wanted was a color that reminded me of denim, in the sense that it goes with everything. I also wanted a color (or colors) that remind me of the Pacific in winter; predominantly gray, but with blues and that ice-cold green that you can see in the depths. Both Anne and Rachael have commented numerous times on how willing Chris of Briar Rose is to work with someone (read: even a nut-job like me) to create a colorway, and how happy they've been with the results (and I must admit that the results have been uniformly stunning, and I love Chris' yarns already), so I finally worked up my courage to write to her with my weird and wordy description of the colorway I want. But I thought first that I'd better check her site to see if she already had anything like that in the Seapearl base yarn (merino/tencel). My goodness, but that woman can read minds. Because she did. I wrote to be sure that, in fact, I wasn't seeing things, and I wasn't, and she shipped it out instantaneously, and now I have this.
Seriously, how perfect is that?

The problem is (you knew I'd find one), that it's so perfect that I'm afraid to ruin it by not managing to create The Sweater. And since my sweater design experience is limited to one that I made for Younger Daughter last year (it turned out all right, but still), I'm terrified to commit to something. But I want that sweater. To quote a favorite character of mine, I wist it. (Wist, from wistful.) I wist it bad.

So, I'm starting to edge my way sideways into the design stage. (Again with the sideways edging!) I'm thinking something with a square neckline with a moss stitch edge around the neck. Knit plain otherwise with drop sleeves (or set-in? but I've never done set-in...), and a very simple lace edging, reminiscent of waves (if I can find one), around the edges of body and sleeves. Some waist shaping, and maybe a bit of flare at the bottom of the sleeves. The goal here is simple and versatile, but a grown-up version of that squared-off sweater up there. Something I can wear with or without a shirt underneath it, so a relatively small amount of ease (2 inches?). I ordered Maggie Righetti's book on sweater design from the library, so reinforcements are on the way.

Meanwhile, you all get to hear me dither. And quaver. And whinge. And generally worry that I'm going to "waste" (I know, I know, ridiculous) this perfect yarn on something that doesn't end up being The Sweater. I have to admit, though, that there's this sneaky part of me that's really looking forward to sketching and swatching and playing with possible stitches (this is how I trick myself into doing things that are new, apparently). Even the idea of knitting a whole grown-up sized sweater in laceweight yarn (did I mention? 6 sts/in on size 4s) doesn't have me worried. Do you think I can have it done by Christmas?

P.S. To Dawn: I loved your question about whether the a-mok reanalysis could be tmsesis; in this case, I think that it might be different than the examples you gave (abso-bloody-lutely being one of my favorites and one I use in class as a rare example of an infix in English), in that the reanalysis isn't happening at a morpheme break, as it does in the other words. Must do more research on the phenomenon...



I find it hard to believe that you are so timorous about designing your own sweater! Of course, this is from someone who began sewing her own clothes at age ten. I mean, how hard can it be, I asked.

Consider a top down, raglan sleeve garment (or conversely, bottom up,) because raglans fit well. You can do some clever waist shaping. Maybe a little something of interest on the yoke.

AlisonH said...

You can do it.

And I can say that. Early on in my knitting, I did it, simply because there were no Aran patterns for 6'8" men out there with 86" wingspans, and I desperately wanted one. If I can do it, you can. And if you don't like how it comes out when you're done, tell you what, I'll come over and frog it so you don't have to, and you'll get to enjoy that lovely yarn all over again.

Except you won't have to because it'll come out right the first time. I'm the mommy. I said so.

Jessica said...

Oh, that gray-greeney-blue yarn is gorgeous! Of course you can knit The Sweater. I have complete faith in your ability. I just had to put my favorite sweater in the charity bin. It had gotten too ratty to wear anywhere. It was a gray cashmere cardigan. I bought it ages ago when I was an undergrad (must have been on sale--I was a fairly broke student) and it was perfect in every way. I'm sort of mourning it now.

Bea said...

Love the mitts. SO very pretty. I like the photographed color but the real life color sounds pretty too.

I get that about the perfect yarn. Could you design it with a less perfect yarn and then do the test knitting with that and end up with two awesome sweaters? My fingers crossed for you but the book sounds like it should help you right along!

Willow said...

1. I was going to suggest the raglan sleeve sweater too.

2. I totally understand the dithering etc about the perfect sweater. I tried to knit one this spring. It did not work out real well, but I didn't have anyone like Christ to help me. Someday I'll post about the hilarious fiasco of 'the sleeves'.

3. You CAN do it. And after you've done it, help me do it.

4. I think the dog was ADHD.

5. Happy Thanksgiving!

adrienne said...

the yarn is gorgeous! you can't help but make a wonderful sweater with it!

EGunn said...

Those mitts are such a happy color. It's not surprising that you got distracted. =)

As for the sweater, of course you can do it! It's just a matter of sketching, casting on, and seeing how it goes. I've had yarn ruin a sweater (twice), but I've never had a sweater ruin my yarn, and I'm always just winging it. Listen to the yarn, remember to consider your shape, and you'll come up with something wonderful.

There's a bit of magic in the favorite sweater part, though. I wish I knew what it was (and how to transfer it from one sweater to another!). I spent a few hours last weekend desperately darning my favorite sweater to make it last just a little bit longer; it's a losing battle, and I don't yet have the perfect replacement. Guess I'd better get knitting, too!

Miss 376 said...

I am sure you will do something beautiful with that yarn. Really like the gloves, lovely pattern

KnitNana said...

I have never knit a sweater, so designing my own? Nope. I have 4 in mind for the "first" sweaters (including one that's realy a vest), the yarn picked for 3 of them. Haven't cast on.

Your yarn? GORGEOUS. (of course!)

I ADORE the mitts. If I had enough yarn I'd make matching ones for the cowls in the same pattern I'm making for Christmas gifts...but I suppose I should not push my luck. I'll save the mitts for myself.
Happy T-day...
(my word verification is the perfect one for me today - "houskid" which I intend to be.)

Gladys said...

Nice design!! I will also try them for me & will shop at Joann Fabrics for knitting yarn.

Rachel said...

Beautiful yarn and you will do great with the design and instead of worrying all the time, just remember you can always rip it and fix any problem :) good luck!

Alwen said...

My head is still stuck back on the beautifulness of the mitts. Lace edging, le sigh!

(And then I scrolled down, and the verification said lersard!)

twinsetellen said...

If you don't want to design set in sleeves, but want less bulk than drop shoulder, how about modified drop shoulder, where you cut in squarely for just a bit at the armhole. Makes a world of difference, and there are plenty of patterns from which you can intuit the process.

And I KNOW you can design this sweater - I've seen you design your way around lots of pattern issues since I started reading your blog, and designing a whole sweater is in essence just doing that multiple times.

The mitts are great, by the way. As is the BR.

Gwen said...

You know you'll be ripping and reknitting, right?

I seem to have suddenly acquired a similarly perfect yarn, enough for a sweater. While you're dithering, I'll be blithering.


Darcy said...

I love those mitts truly madly deeply you are an awesome knitter!!!Hugs Darcy