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.