Sunday, November 16, 2014

Knitting review of the year # 4, a purple jacket, or violet if you prefer


No one can say I only inflict my knitting on my friends and family, I do sometimes make something for for myself, though I'm more subject to distraction when I don't have the deadline of a birthday or Christmas or a small child likely to grow out of the garment before I complete it, so most of the UFOs (UnFinished Objects) in my collection are for myself.

Earlier in the year, Soize, who is a wicked wool-buying temptress, suggested a Quessquitricote group order of Drops wool. Drops are a Norwegian company who do good quality wool - and much of it is pure wool - remarkably cheaply, and have an enormous collection of free patterns on-line. These are translated from the Norwegian, and are presented in a single paragraph, so if you are a knitting numpty like I am following them can be something of a challenge, but their accessibility is appreciated. There are shops which sell the yarn, there's one in La Roche Maurice over in Finistère which is also a crêperie, and we keep saying we'll organise a charabanc party to go there one day, but in the mean time we order by post, which of course works out cheaper if we do it in bulk, so how can we not thus save money? Anyway, I chose Alaska in purple mix.

About twenty-five years ago, when my mum was living in Somerset, I went to a sale at a farmhouse there of woollens made by a woman using a knitting machine. There was a tweedy purple jacket which fitted me perfectly, and wasn't really expensive, but for some reason I hesitated - I was always over-careful about spending money and often baulked foolishly at paying a little more for something good. I regretted it, and tried to go back and get it later, but somehow wasn't able to, I forget why not.  I've always thought about that jacket and wished I'd got it; I'd probably still have it now.  So I thought I'd try to make myself one. I remember it as having cables, certainly some kind of texturing, but I have a misplaced fear of cables, and don't quite like to take them on (Soize on the other hand is la reine de la torsade, and scours the Drops site and elsewhere for the most fiendishly complicated Arans imaginable, which she turns out astonishingly quickly being also a TGV - tricoteuse de grande vitesse). So I found this pattern, which I thought would be easier, since I can do moss stitch and stuff.

What a fool I was.  The mental acuity required to manage the body shaping and armholes, the simultaneous increases and decreases in moss stitch, the counting and following the charts for the knits and purls to make the chevron patterning on the upper part, which was pretty much invisible while working on it owing to the marled fuzziness of the wool, proved to be completely beyond me.



I printed the pattern, scribbled palimpsestuously all over it, made my own extended charts on squared paper, smothered the knitting with different coloured markers, all to no avail, I buggered it up time and time again. It was well into high summer by this time, and I was getting very fed up with the woolly monster indeed. I put it aside in disgust, and took it up again in September. Once more I completely screwed up the chevrons, and finally decided to cut my losses; I ripped it back to before the armholes and gave up on the chevrons altogether, just keeping the simple wide rib pattern.

This decision brought me much peace, and reader I finished it. I blocked all the parts separately before sewing it up, an act of meticulousness I don't usually bother with, including wrapping the sleeves around my yoga mat to shape and seam them:


Then put it all together.



adding some coconut shell buttons. The upper sleeves where they were set into the shoulders felt big and lumpy, all a bit 'just done', but I couldn't face blocking it a second time. I am not at all une frileuse (which may or may not translate as a chilly mortal) and in the warmth of September it felt hot and heavy and unfriendly, so I folded it away in the wardrobe unimpressed, and thought perhaps I'd just end up wearing it as a kind of sofa blanket.

But in fact now the weather has grown colder, and since I've started wearing it, and hung it over the backs of chairs and chucked it in and out of the car and generally made a friend of it, the sleeves seem to have settled in better and I'm quite persuaded of its worth. But I really must get around to learning to knit cables.






12 comments:

Crafty Green Poet said...

It looks great and i like your use of a yoga mat!

I'm not even yet at numpty level of knitting, being one who can't even cast on.....

Catalyst/Taylor said...

Love that photo of you. So trim.

Zhoen said...

Gorgeous. So is the jacket.

Especially drooling over that wonderful color.

polish chick said...

"palimpsestuously" has just now beat out everything else as my favourite word in the english language, real or imagined, and for that i thank you.

love the jacket.

Roderick Robinson said...

VR once knitted me a a roll-necked sweater with cabling in hard, greyish-white Aran wool. I say "hard" because the texture was similar to that of the gilets the police wear to stop terrorist bullets. I was amazed - and somewhat disappointed - to discover that the cabling was mechanically contrived with a cabling needle. I had expected that one simply knitted round its contortions, possibly employing one's teeth at the tricky moments. A moment when knitting dropped its mystical curtain.

Lyse said...

Wouah ! il te va comme un gant!

Isabelle said...

Well, I'm very impressed. It looks lovely.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Really gorgeous! But purple?? Unless the photo colour is inaccurate, I'd call that blue, sort of cobalt or light ultramarine.

Lucy said...

Thanks all.

The colour does look too blue here, I was going to say, it really is quite a true violet colour, more violet than purple but that's not a colour word we use so much in English is it?

'Palimpsestuous' is a made-up word but not by me; if memory serves it was one that Joe and Robbie used to use about Joe's copy in their journalist days, which was a legendary awful mess by the time he'd finished with it, much to Robbie's chagrin as his sub-editor!

Stella said...

It is hard for me to believe that someone with your superior, gold-standard knitting skills should be intimidated by cables. Any of you who don't knit, please believe that Lucy is a first class knitter and an intrepid one. My hunch is that any difficulties you encountered were the fault of the pattern and not of the craftswoman. Some pattern composers are perverse!

Nimble said...

Very impressed. I like the vertical stripes and don't miss the other patterning. How nice that it's settling in as a useful garment. I like wearing my first sweater for the color and the v neck. I just smile at the slightly uneven sleeves and the point in the torso where I reversed my knit angle.

Lucy said...

Thanks Stella, I know you are a stellar knitter so appreciate the compliment! I'm sure cables wouldn't really be that difficult once I took the plunge, I suppose I have an idea they require a certain kind of counting which I fear might defeat me, and I think perhaps I've an idea that they might involve a lot of stopping and fiddling which would impede fluent knitting and generally discourage me. Yet there are so many wonderful things you can do with the technique. I did just about crack the pattern; Drops patterns are sometimes problematical on account of being translated and also printed in a single block paragraph, but it wasn't really that, it was mostly following a design by counting alone because I couldn't see what was happening; if it had been the same pattern in colourwork using stranding I could have done it, or even perhaps if it had been using a yarn with better stitch definition, but the texture just didn't appear clearly enough, so I felt as if I was working blind. Counting really is my downfall I'm afraid. Most of the other Ravelry users who'd done it had no problem.

Nimble - thanks. In fact I'm very happy with the design as it is, I think the upper part would have been too busy and bulky with the patterning. It's pilling like mad already, but that's nice soft wool for you, and it's got volume enough to spare. It's funny how fond one can be of one's sort-of failures, the horrendously ill-fitting waistcoat thing I made last year gets an enormous amount of wear.