Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Celtic Durrow

First of all, I just wanted to say thank you for all your kind comments about my Under the Hoodie. We've had a bit of a coolish spell in San Diego lately so to my surprise I've actually been able to wear my hoodie a lot. This has also been helpful because it helped to relieve a bit of the guilt I was feeling over only now finishing my brother's sweater...nothing like a new wool sweater in spring! ;-)

This project is fulfilling my April contribution to the 2007 UFO Resurrection Challenge. It took all last month, but I finally sat down, figured out what I needed to do to finish this sweater and did it! And I'm glad I did. I think it fits him great and it just "looks like him," too. This was always what I was going for, but it's exceptionally nice when it actually works out that way.


This is a fairly heavily modified Durrow from MagKnits. The originally is great, but I wanted my brother to have a sweater that was more Celtic looking. I also really wanted the cable to continue from the arm into the the saddle at the shoulder and I wanted a more continuous and flowing cable from the original. (It appears from some VERY brief internet research that the stopping and starting bits are features of Durrow cables in general. They are beautiful cables, but I personally gravitate toward continuous knots and twists.) I also felt that the original Durrow cable reminded me of a treble clef and although my brother loves music, it seemed a cable more suited for a musician. So the first thing I did was replace the Durrow cable with the Loose Five-Rib Braid from Barbara Walker's A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns.

Since the cable was narrower than that original, I was able to continue the cable as part of the saddle shoulder. The sleeve itself was easy to modify given my cable exchange, see she wrote general increasing instructions and basically told you to work the cable chart while doing such and such increases. So, I just used those details and continued the rib pattern around my cable, incorporating the rib pattern as I increased. I also made extra large sleeves lengthwise on a small sleeve stitch count to account for the monkey arms that he and I are both blessed with. Now, I have to admit, there are a few mistakes in the sleeves, but because I knit both sleeves at the same time they are now "style elements" and I challenge anyone to find them. Besides my philosophy about mistakes is that they are only there if you tell someone about them. And my lips are sealed.

That pretty much takes care of the more normal modifications, now onto the ones that caused this project to turn from a WIP to a UFO: the Neck. I don't really know what to say about the neck except that it was completed purely by trial and error. It was way too big as written, so I pinned in the sleeves and had him try it on. Then I 'filled in' what was missing. I know not really helpful.

More or less, I continued the raglan deceases for another three inches on the sleeves until the saddle reached about 4 inches wide then I worked it straight until it would run into the front and back neck. I also worked another 3 inches of raglan decreases on the front and the back. This was also following a rip and re-knit repair job on the back due to a (moth?) hole. This was very unscientific, it seemed like I needed another three inches, so that's what I did. However, because of this, I actually ended up with about 1/3 more length in the raglan section of the sleeves from the body pieces. So when I seamed everything up, I eased that extra bit into each other as I worked (2 bars to 1 bar) and presto, magic! You can't even see it! You've got to LOVE wool sometimes.

Finally, I wanted to take a moment to talk about this yarn. It is Kilcarra Donegal Tweed and I bought it from Irish Yarns & Crafts. It was important for me that this yarn was actually made in Ireland and this was the only yarn I could find at the time that fit that bill. It appeared to be what I wanted and so I decided to take the risk and see what it was like. Buying this yarn as basically a "store brand" saved some money, too (including shipping, I got about 1660 yards for $70 and I have 3 hanks left over). Now, if you are not fond of wool for it's "naturalness" this yarn is not for you. However, it is a wonderful wool yarn. It blooms beautifully once washed and I consider it a soft wool. It also has some fun features that always reminded me where it came from. First, you can clearly see the curls and kinks of each individual fiber. Second, every so often you would get some weeds or a little bit of vegetation. Not enough to be annoying, but enough to clear any doubt in your mind that this fiber had once been on a sheep. I love that in yarn, so this was a plus for me. I noticed that Irish Yarns & Crafts now sells a merino wool and I am looking forward to trying that out on another special project someday.

Finally, the best part of this whole project is that my brother likes his sweater. He seemed very happy with everything and that is the best part. It made any doubt, frustrations or difficulties I experienced worth it. I'm so glad I worked on (and completed!) this project, but I am glad it is over, too!

18 comments:

Theresa said...

Looks fabulous - congrats!

Nasus said...

Congratulations! It fits perfectly on your brother!

Janelle said...

Wow, that sweater is fantastic! I love the modifications that you made, and the grey tweed is perfect!

Dave said...

What a totally wonderful sweater -- the colour, the cables you chose, and the fit -- totally wonderful!

Mouse said...

I think its gorgeous! Jodi (www.jodigreen.ca) would probably be very interested in your mods because I know a while ago she asked for photos and mods for her site.

Addi said...

It's a beautiful sweater! Isn't it the greatest when the recipient loves the handknit too?

Deb said...

Stunning - absolutely stunning!

knitzalot said...

Wow, it looks great on him! I'm so glad you didn't give up on it. You must be very proud of your accomplishment.

mle said...

Good job!! what a perfect fit! He's lucky to have you for a sister!

The Stitchin' Sheep said...

So impressive. It's fits him perfectly, and the yarn is great for that pattern.

Jeanette said...

That looks amazing! Great fit!

Madge said...

Fantastic job turning this UFO into a FO, because it's hands down stunning!

Your brother looks great in it. He's totally lucky to have you as his sister.

Debbie said...

I love the sweater and your choice of yarn. Do you have your modifications written down, somewhere? I don't care for the cables on the original, myself, but I have wanted to make this sweater. Would you share? Thanks! Beautiful yarn.

Hilari said...

Great job on the sweater! You totally rock!

amanda cathleen said...

fanastic sweater! Looks like it fits your bro wonderfully

Lolly said...

What a fantastic sweater!! I was so drawn to Durrow with the great cables, but just couldn't get my groove on with those cables - so I am glad to see the mods you made. Myabe I could actually do it too with some mods! Big kudos to you for making such a great FO. Looks like a perfect fit for your bro.

Nonnahs said...

Yay, yay, yay! It looks fabulous- great work! I'm so glad R likes it!

Cristina (CrissyPo) said...

Hmm...I joined that UFO Challenge and promptly forgot about it! I'm glad you're keeping up though, because that sweater is beautiful.