Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Re-Cap

The Green Sweater was a pleasure to knit. Simple as that.
Oh - you want more details.

Firsts For Me.
I have never before knit a sweater so 'out of gauge'. The yarn is sport weight but the sweater knits at Knitting Worsted Weight. Knitting so 'out of gauge' created a very light-weight sweater. Warm but not heavy.

What an eye opener for me! How many other sweaters would benefit from using a lighter yarn?

The story behind this sweater tells of a woman walking into a yarn store with a 50 year old sweater. It is worn out in a couple of spots and the woman wonders if it can be repaired. A fifty year old sweater is confirmation enough for me that the looser gauge will wear well and I would certainly knit this way again. Imagine all the lovely light-weight yarns now available to me for sweater knitting. My knitting world has expanded.

I have never before knit a sweater where construction was made so incredibly easy. The Green Sweater, as I have mentioned earlier, is knit circularly, in a tube, to the shoulders. How easy is that? Not fancy cables to trick my Olympic watching eyes. No complicated intarsia, or fair isle. Just straight stockinet stitch from bottom to top.

And yet the end product looks less like a tube than any sweater I have ever made. It has a square neckline, set in sleeves and mitred corners at every turn. The look is very tailored - even perhaps a bit military like.

I have never before mitred a corner.
The first corners, at the bottom of the hem, worried me. How could this possible work out? Clear to anyone who listened to their Geometry teacher I'm sure, but totally not clear to me. But work they did. When the pattern said to turn under the hems until " mitred edges meet at lower corner" by gosh they did meet.

I have never before hemmed a sweater. All my previous sweaters have had ribbing or rolled hems. Sometimes a non-curling border like garter stitch or seed stitch but never hems. The Green Sweater has hems everywhere. At the lower edge, at the neckline, down the centre front and at the bottom of the sleeves. Hems and I are now old friends.

I have never before cut so many steeks in one sweater. While previously having cut a simple centre front steek, the Green Sweater saw me cutting four!! steeks. Armholes were steeked, centre front was steeked, the square neckline was steeked and sleeves were steeked.

Steeking, of course, was the secret to the simple, fast construction of the total sweater. The story has it that Elizabeth knit this sweater for her God-Daughter during a summer visit. I like to imagine Elizabeth suddenly realizing the end of the visit was fast approaching and she had yet to knit the child a sweater. What kind of quick knit could she do? Or perhaps it was a yearly thing to knit her a sweater during her summer visit but with extra children in the house and all the extra cooking, entertaining and laundry that entailed, it had to be simple. Or perhaps, it was just Elizabeth's penchant for simplicity. I will certainly do it again.

I have never before knit a successful top-down, set-in sleeve.
I do remember a disastrous attempt to accomplish this knitting feat after which I presumed it was totally not do-able. But again, Elizabeth knows do-able. These sleeves are beautiful. Different than most instructions, Elizabeth has these decreases running down the outside of the sleeve, from shoulder to wrist. One of the military touches I like.

As you can tell from reading this, I learned much through my Olympic Knitting. The 'expansion' spanned both the personal and the craft. I learned that with a little push, I can accomplish more. I learned that a push is not a bad thing. In fact, it was fun. I learned that setting a goal with fellow knitters makes it even more fun. The greatest things I learned though comes down to these two things.

I learned that I
can knit an entire adult sweater in 16 days.
I learned that you can trust Elizabeth Zimmermann. Totally. If she says it will be so,
it will be so.
No wonder she always said " Knit on with confidence...."


Sel and Poivre said...

'Just a great big contented sigh coming from me after following along with such a great big satisfying knitting story!

elizabeth said...

I cannot WAIT to knit this sweater! I knit a cardigan last fall out of fingering weight yarn and I absolutely love it. It's very warm, but not bulky - just right for Alabama winters! I am a big fan of the fine gauge knit. Your sweater is beautiful - congratulations!

Sandra said...

I think I need to get this pattern, after reading your description...

Anne Campbell said...

This sweater is really great! I appreciate all the information you gave about the process. It's great to have some pre-steek photos to look at - I could never have visualized that marvelous transformation!

Laurie said...

What a great story! I've loved watching your sweater progress, but didn't realize all the new techniques you were learning as you knit. The "learning" projects really are the best ones, aren't they? I'd keel over cold at the thought of steeks, so I still have a ways to go. ;-) Beautiful sweater - and I agree about many sweaters being made in yarn that is too bulky. It's one of the reasons I haven't knit a sweater in over fifteen years - might need to rethink that now... Congratulations!