Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The things we do for the ones we love

This Saturday we had our first sweater design class in a 6 class series at a local San Diego LYS. The purpose of the class is to go from swatch to sweater. We could use anything for inspiration - a favorite garment, another knitting item, whatever. For me it was a fairly easy choice: B’s sweater. Ever since he got his socks, he’s been hinting about a sweater. In fact, he often says I should hurry up and finish my brother’s sweater (yes, it still isn’t done), so I can start on his! Now, his enthusiasm threw me for a loop at the beginning because, well, B has hand issues. His sister talked about it here (see the bit right below weird #6) and it is definitely something that runs in the family. Because of this, he is super sensitive to the way fibers feel…especially knitted fibers (even holding my hand when I am wearing a sweater drives him crazy). And until the success of the socks, I don’t think he thought there would ever be a knitting item that would or could work for him, so he never said anything about it.

When I first stated knitting, I thought it was a softness thing. But after repeatedly see him recoil after having him feel the softest things I could find, I realized it wasn’t an issue of what the fiber was, but more of how it was spun. If the fibers are tightly spun so there is no fluff, he can deal. This is why the Socks That Rock work and why organic cotton does not. It also means, that most sweater wool is out. So, the fiber choice was going to play a key role in this project.

Also, B is a furnace. So, the type of sweater was going to be a challenge. I knew that pull-overs were out. I started showing him photos of sweater jackets with full zippers because he often wears light jackets throughout the year. He kept coming back to the photo of the Urban Aran that Brooklyn Tweed made. I started to think that despite the gauge being drastically different, this sweater would be wonderful in Cotton-Ease. It would hold the cables nicely and be very wearable in both feel and temperature control for B. And don’t get me even started on the ease of care! Shoot, no brainer here.

Finally, came color. Although, B isn’t super particular about the colors he wears, I figured he would want something that could be more or less worn with everything. I assumed that charcoal gray would be the obvious choice and planned to pick up the new Charcoal Cotton-Ease. But then B came right out and said he didn’t want charcoal. Ugh. So after talking about it and knowing that his current jacket is black, we settled on black yarn. It would be a nightmare to knit, but I would have the class schedule to keep me on track, so I knew I could do it.

I ended up picking out TLC Cotton Plus in black. Although clearly not Cotton-Ease, it had basically the same properties and was more in the budget than some of the other options out there. In fact, it is probably the cheapest sweater quantity of yarn I’ve ever purchased (~$25). I knit up all my swatches for class on Saturday, but I because increasingly dissatisfied with the way the yarn looked. B felt the swatches and like them, and my knitting teacher re-enforced that it was a very "guy fabric", so I knew I needed to get over it. But, the Cotton-Ease kept calling my name…even so far as to encourage me to order the Charcoal last week when it got back into stock at Joanne’s…you know, "just in case".

Well, its call became even stronger, when it turned out I would have to re-swatch to account for some scaling changes I’m going to make to the sweater. So, if I’m re-swatching for design anyway...I may as well re-swatch for different yarn, too. Right? So, the plan is to make B’s sweater in Cotton-Ease after all. After discussing the color and yarn issue, he says he would be happy with the Charcoal. However, in the event that it just doesn’t do it for him, Knitzalot has kindly offered to trade some of her stash of discontinued Licorice for my batch of Charcoal.

So, wish me luck! This is going to be an interesting endeavor for me. But I am really excited about the changes and modifications that I will be making to the sweater in order to get the yarn to work while keeping the overall theme and elements intact. I was concerned that I wasn’t doing enough to justify using this project for my design class, since it isn’t really a design from scratch. However, given what the original pattern looks like (being a woman's pullover and all) and the gauge change (which is leading to some interesting cable and element modifications), quite a bit of work is needed to get everything to come together. Fortunately, my teacher alleviated my feelings of doubt by being as excited about my project as I am! Now I can’t wait to get started!!


Marisa said...

I just love the title of your post - how true is that! Good luck with the project - I'm sure it will come out great!

Theresa said...

Interesting, but definitely exciting!

Anonymous said...

Yay- I can't wait to see this process unfold!

Jennifer said...

So, it's back to the Cotton-ease plan, eh? Cotton-ease is a great cotton blend. Good luck with the redesign process!

The Stitchin' Sheep said...

So exciting! About the organic cotton, though... he was here once and touched a knitted swatch of a very loosely spun organic cotton and said it felt nice. It was a sample of something that Patagonian wools was playing with but had not yet perfected for sale. I don't know if they ever got it right. It was a bit too easy to pull apart in yarn form but made a pretty sturdy fabric knitted up. I was a bit concerned that it would pill a lot, though.

Oh, and if you really need a new home for that black yarn, you just let me know. I could use a black sweater, myself. I've been itching for a simple sweater for myself and even considered the idea of buying some cheap, easy-care yarn with acrylic in it, of all things. I am pretty sure I could be convinced to take it off your hands at that nice price (especially since I can't get it here).