This is a story that started over three years ago. A grown-up daughter was moving away from near her mummy, and the mummy was rather desperate to stay connected. They were both knitters, so they came up with a project. The Project. The Sweater, to be exact: The Oregon Autumn cardigan by Alice Starmore (Published in Vogue Knitting, Holiday 2007).
We picked yarn, swatched, cast on, worked on it for a while, and life happened. Business and school and volunteer work and health ebbed and flowed; patterns were lost and re-printed; many smaller things were knit; the mummy ran education programs; the daughter moved two more times and became a mummy herself. But at some point, a proverbial fire was lit under proverbial arses, and they picked up the pace. This is the story of the end, starting at the beginning.
Mom: I began this sweater to help stay connected to Rebecca, and happily knit up to the arm holes. But in January I joined Osborn Fiber Studio! That was a BIG connect, and the tedium of a fair isle sweater, the confusion of steeking….well, I kept avoiding it. Joining the company meant there were more excuses to avoid it…..dyeing, knitting samples, getting ready for Sheep and Wool……AND I was in charge of Vacation Bible School for my church, so that took up a lot of time in the summer. Then Rebecca became a mommy: BIG connect. Every time I picked up the sweater to knit a few rows, it got put back down again for Christmas projects, comfort knitting, and now baby knitting!
In the end, though, I decided I really did like the sweater and wanted to finish it. So this past June when I went to Pittsburgh to babysit while Rebecca took a summer class, I brought up The Sweater and finished the body of it…..one stripe per day was the goal. It was Rebecca’s idea and being away from home helped me focus on it, I think.
Happily, that summer the church had canceled VBS, so I had weeks of free time in which to continue to work on it. Again, the goal was one stripe per day…..keep going, keep knitting, it will get done.
Rebecca: I got the above picture by email, with the words “It took an hour to get the red facing blocked correctly. …oooo my back and butt!” Back and butt nothing – I still had most of a sleeve to accomplish! Mom was coming to visit in mid-September; I set myself the goal of finishing before she came up. It took a few late nights at the end, but I managed to get it blocking just a week before she and Bethany arrived.
Mom: I decided to put a facing in the button band because it would hide the cut ends of the yarn, and perhaps protect them from raveling. [Word to the wise – think twice before doing a steek in superwash yarn. It can be done, but it’s dangerous!]
Rebecca: I think my favorite part of my sweater is the complimentary look of the corrugated ribbing. Mom made her bottom ribbing longer; I made my collar ribbing longer. In my case it was out of necessity; I had a baby mid-project and wanted to still be able to wear it! (If you can’t tell, I blocked the living daylights out of it too.) Corrugated ribbing is fun for me; I don’t mind doing knit stitches left-handed, and I hold the purl color in my right hand. The collar ribbing was tough, though, because you have to work the wrong side too.
Mom: Yes, it was HARD to do Fair Isle from the wrong side!
Rebecca: The Yarn Harlot always makes a point to comment on the inside of fair isle sweaters. I didn’t understand this until I learned how to do the thing properly, crossing the same color over and the other under every time (I used to think you were supposed to twist them. Hazards of self-education). Now that I can do it right, well… wow.
Mom: We cut our sleeve steeks together over skype, picked up the sleeve stitches and knit downwards, following the pattern upside down. That was confusing sometimes, but it wasn’t too bad. It was interesting to me that the pattern did not call for any kind of capped sleeve…..I expected short row shaping or something. But of course I was glad that it was simply picking up stitches and knitting a tube.
Rebecca’s Yarn Review: I used Jamieson & Smith 2-ply jumper weight, both regular and “Supreme” (code for natural colors and larger balls). I chose it for the tradition and the color selection. It isn’t the softest stuff on earth, but it’s surprisingly affordable, and so light for how warm it is. I plan on using it again. This sweater has only been in rotation for a few weeks, and I find myself reaching for it all the time.
Rebecca: We were wondering how, despite having a smaller gauge, Mom got a longer sweater. Well, um, mystery solved! We didn’t do the same number of repeats – I did half as many. Oops. I might not have a long, coat-like sweater like in my dream, but this look is probably much more practical for me. And your long one is very flattering.
Mom: No, no. Count the trees: We DID the same number of rows, but you blocked yours wider than mine.
Mom’s yarn review: I used mostly Heritage (by Cascade Yarns). This is a Merino Superwash/nylon sock yarn. Very soft. So the sweater is comfortable to wear against the skin. I love that. However, it did ravel when I cut the steeks, so I had to be careful with the ends. For the sleeve, I sewed them down. For the button band, I serged the ends and hid them in the facing. I even had to sew some ends down with needle and thread. It is not ideal yarn for this project, but I loved the end result.
Rebecca: I picked my colors quite literally based on a dream I had about this sweater. Blue and green and turquoise background, with natural colors in the foreground. I think this really shined on the body of the sweater. Mom’s bold color choices really shined on the border, which frame the sweater quite effectively.
Rebecca: What are you going to do with your leftovers? Between over-ordering and leftovers from knitting Sheep Heid, I have over 4000 yards left. There is a cowl, hat, handwarmers, and gloves based on the same fair isle stitch. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather eat all this yarn than knit it into matching fair isle. I’m thinking something simpler, perhaps along the lines of Northmavine.
Mom: I don’t know! More socks? I love the yarn, and am trying hard to learn how to knit socks.
Rebecca: Of course, it’s tempting to look ahead, but there’s also a time to just enjoy the moment. We made it!
Linda: We are brainstorming on what our next project together will be…..some kind of “Log Cabin” blanket wherein we swap back and forth, knitting on the same blanket????
Rebecca: After this, the sky’s the limit!