Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Not So Sahara
I bought this yarn some time ago. Well, okay, not that long ago, actually, but saying "some time ago" allows me to pretend that it has been in the stash for a while, and that I don't quite remember how or why it came to be there, and therefore bear no responsibility for its presence and/or purchase. Work with me, here.
It wasn't so long ago that I don't remember exactly what I bought it for; I bought it to knit Rogue. In a frenzy of lust a few weeks back, when it occurred to me that temperatures might, eventually, drop below scorching and require, maybe, a wool sweater--and in a fit of selective amnesia that allowed me to ignore the closet full of wool sweaters already awaiting such an opportunity--I came across Rogue (again) on Ravelry. I was seized with a sudden and powerful urge to castitonrightnownomatterwhat, and, as knitters yourselves, you know how pointless it is to even try to resist that particular urge, so I didn't. I had some yarn in the stash that I thought would be perfect, so I popped right over and downloaded the pattern. I printed it out (all 14 pages of it), but maternal duty called and I couldn't cast on immediately.
A few hours later, I sat down to read the pattern and thought, "Hmmm. That's a really long pattern. Maybe I'll just swatch for now." So I did. And the yarn that I thought would be perfect was decidedly...not. Too light, too fuzzy, too scratchy. I wanted a dense, soft yarn, but one that would hold up to a lot of wear. Something a little rustic, but still a little drapey, and not variegated, but not entirely solid, either. You know. The perfect yarn. And then, in one of those moments of serendipity sparked by a rather large glass of red wine and entirely too much time on Ravelry, I was struck with a brilliant idea: I would buy the perfect yarn and it would be Eco Wool! Eco Wool gets rave reviews from, oh, just about everybody, and I have in fact touched and fondled and considered using it a time or two myself; I have even kept it in the back of my mind as the sort of yarn I would remember if I ever came across the right pattern. If you are familiar with Eco Wool, or even if you are not, but are the sort of knitter who considers matters such as yarn weight and gauge, you may be thinking, "Hmm. That's an interesting idea. I wonder if Eco Wool knits to the gauge called for by Rogue." And it would have been quite useful to me had you been there when I placed the order, because I didn't think about it at all.
A few days later, the yarn arrived, and it was perfect. Rustic and soft, dense and drapey, solid, but not too solid. Perfect. But not for Rogue. Rogue calls for a worsted weight yarn. Eco Wool is an aran weight. And while I could probably force it to knit to 18 stitches to four inches, this is a yarn that is clearly more comfortable at 16 stitches to four inches. And, yes, I could just modify the pattern, but I am lazy, and was already planning to make the smallest size, and besides, it occurred to me that I don't really like hoodies anyway. (What's that? Fickle? Why, no, not at all!) But it's true; I don't like hoodies. I like the way they look, I just don't like wearing them. The hood always pulls the neckline back and makes me feel like I'm choking, and then it wads up behind my head when I sit in the car, and gets in the way of my purse strap, and I always wish I had just made a collar.
But I still love the yarn, so I have been on a mission to find a great use for it. I have searched Ravelry, and the entire Drops pattern line, and every knitting magazine I've ever bought. Nothing has quite done it for me. There were a couple of close calls, but I've always pulled back at the last minute. That great Drops cardigan? Awesome. Really. But I don't like A-line anything (emphasizes the butt, no thanks). And I could modify it to be more shaped--that would be cool--but I'm not sure about the buttons just at the top. How about a basic turtleneck? Oh, yeah. Wool around the bare neck=sweater that never gets worn. Maybe a cardigan? Well, maybe. But I really need a pullover I can just toss on.
Finally, I accepted that I was going to have to come up with my own design. I enjoy designing sweaters. But, as we've already established, I am lazy. I don't always want to go to the trouble of coming up with my own design. Sometimes, though, there's just no alternative. So I started thinking about what I wanted. Some time ago, I made shawl collar sweaters for my boys. I didn't have a pattern, but it wasn't that hard, and I was pretty happy with the results. I always thought I'd like to try making one for myself. I like a nice, cozy shawl collar, and I don't own any. I don't want a boxy sort of sweater, though. Recent projects have taught me (slowly and painfully) that: a) I am smaller than I believe I am; and b) fitted sweaters are more flattering on my not-so-endowed body than oversized ones. Which means I want a sweater that, though not clingy (I'm going for cozy, remember), is still shapely. Enter waist shaping. And a shirttail hem would probably look really nice with that, wouldn't it? Maybe with a garter stitch hem and cuffs. And perhaps some slightly drapey sleeves to offset the fitted shape?
And then it occurred to me: I was picturing Sahara, only with a shawl collar and garter stitch edging and a different gauge.
Well. That simplifes matters considerably, doesn't it? Sahara is a fabulous pattern (and it's top-down, to continue my on-going love affair with all things seamless). Both the mechanics and the finished product are elegant and pleasing. I've wanted to make another since even before I finished my first one. I've never made the same pattern twice, but with the changes I have in mind, this won't actually be the same pattern. I need to spend a little time with the calculator, but I think I can adjust for gauge by simply knitting a smaller size. And I think I can just pop a shawl collar into the existing neckline, too. One way or another, it will be an interesting experiment. I'm off to cast on!