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!