Thursday, September 18, 2014

Woodland Cardigan

Way back in March, which seems like ages ago now, Kate Heppell, Knit Now Editor, put out a call for submissions for the Fall issues with, as usual, extremely gorgeous mood boards.

I liked a lot of things in the mood boards, particularly the Down to the Woods board here. (I'm also on Pinterest, over here). Now, there are no hedgehogs or rabbits in my neighbourhood here in the Alberta prairies (though a porcupine and many jackrabbits/hares have been spotted), but I've spent so much time in my childhood reading novels set in England that I feel a displaced nostalgia. I loved this board, especially the hedgehog in a woolly blanket, and the animal garlands, that to me suggested rows of stranded knitting.

I had about three ideas going that gradually got narrowed down to a baby pullover. Of course, then I re-read the header on the board, which asked for Adult garments and accessories. After a brief moment of disappointment that I'd got it wrong, I wondered whether the hedghog, bunny and acorn motif I'd been working on in my head was way too cute for an adult sweater. Deciding there's no such thing as too cute in this case, I came up with the following sketch and swatch, and sent in my proposal.

The hedgehog and acorns were easy to get just so, but it took a few tries to get a bunny motif that looked just bunnyish enough without making it much bigger than the hedgehog.

Kate e-mailed to say it was great and that she'd like to commission it, but there's another woodland pullover sent in that she loves just as much, so could I make it a cardigan instead so that both patterns would be different enough to be in the same issue? (Check out the lovely Parliament of Owls pullover here on Ravelry!) I said sure thing, and starting plotting to make it work.

There were a few changes that need to be made, I found, as I started a new, flat swatch (we had worked out that it was best to have this one worked flat rather than round and steeked, as the pullover has steeks in that pattern), that a few changes needed to be made, such as changing single stripe rows to two rows. 

I also realized that while I could knit stranded knitting with both hands on the knit side, I'd never worked purls with my right hand. I set about learning how (after all, millions manage it every day), but eventually realized that my tension being very different while purling with my right, I'd have to resort to knitting with both hands, and purling all stitches with my left, being careful how I dropped and picked up the yarn again to ensure correct yarn dominance while stranding yarn in front of the wrong side.

I think I managed quite well in the end, though I will say it was a challenge to get the sample knit up in three weeks, some of that time having been spent re-calculating for the new gauge with the actual yarn, J.C. Rennie Supersoft Lambswool 4 ply. It's a really light fingering weight, and I ended up going down a needle and therefore re-calculating all 7 sizes. The results made this extremely worthwhile, and by the way, the yarn washes up just lovely.

Thanks to a friend of the family, I have a few modeled shots from a few minutes before I took the completed sample to the post office!

I would like to thank Kate and her staff for all their hard work on Issue 39, which looks great! You can buy it here at Knit Now.

Huge thanks to the amazing Sigrun, who did a pre-tech-edit tech-edit for me, helping me double-check everything before sending things off, and to Steph who encouraged me and advised as I sorted out a few problems in the early stages (also for lending me a long 2.75 mm circ)! 

Big thanks to my whole family for their encouragement, and particularly to my husband and kids for their love, patience, support, and willingness to let me ignore them completely for large stretches of time while working on the Woodland Cardigan!

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