Peak Knitting Experience

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A little while back, Karen, of Fringe Association, wrote about her peak knitting experience. At the time, I didn’t really feel that I had reached any sort of peak with my own knitting. I’ve definitely had a prolific knitting year and I’ve learned how to do a lot of new things, but the honest truth is that very little of it felt like a peak to me. Now that I’ve finally finished my Burrard, though, I can safely say that I’ve achieved my own knitting apex, and just in time for the second coming of the polar vortex!

ImageNeedless to say, I am very, very pleased with how this turned out. Those cables are just gorgeous and the shaping is perfect. Part of the reason it fits so well is because I knit the back piece as a size 37.75 and the front pieces as size 40 to accommodate my large bust. Never have I owned a garment that fits my body as well as this cardigan does.

ImageI learned so much from the making of this sweater: how to read cable charts, how to make different kinds of buttonholes, how to shape a garment and how to construct a garment in pieces. In fact, the construction was one of my favorite parts. Lots of knitters complain about seaming, but I found the process very logical and really enjoyable. Yes, it’s more work than knitting in the round, but I liked learning how to put a garment together from its component parts. Call me crazy, but seaming was definitely not the chore I thought it would be.

ImageThough I’m really happy with how this turned out, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. I discovered too late that the yarn I used (Lion Brand Pure Wool) was probably one of the worst choices for a seamed sweater because of the way it shredded when I started the actual seaming. I had to make an emergency trip to the yarn store for some stronger plied yarn and ended up finishing the seams with some Cascade 220 Sport in a creamy off-white. It wasn’t a perfect colour match, but it certainly did the trick.

ImageNow, let’s talk buttons. I don’t know about you, but I think these buttons really make the sweater. Because I was going for the traditional grandpa style, I knew that I wanted some classic buttons to round out the look. At first I thought I would go with some brown leather buttons, but in the end I decided that a classic tortoiseshell was what I needed. I think I made the right choice. 

Overall, this sweater is a winner: stylish, comfortable and warm, my Burrard is definitely my peak knitting experience and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. 

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National Knit a Sweater Month

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Over the last little while, I’ve come to realize that I’m the sort of person who has a hard time saying “no” to certain things. Don’t get me wrong, I know how to stand up for myself and I’ve never been what you might call a pushover. But when the opportunity to do something I’m keenly interested in presents itself, look no further: I am your woman. You want a loaf of bread? No problem! Having a baby? Let me make you some booties! You’ve written an interesting paper on a topic I care about and want an outside eye to proofread it for you? Yes, please! This tendency of mine to (almost) always take on extra tasks that are of interest to me has never really caused me problems. I welcomed the opportunity for distractions like these when I was in school and had more schedule flexibility, not out of laziness or a disinterest in my own work but more so because they energized me by making room in my brain for things other than my research. Now that I’m in the not-so-unique position of having a day job, taking on all these other tasks, no matter how enjoyable, has left me with little time for myself. This week has been especially bad: between working on a soon-to-be-revealed academic writing project, gift making, receiving conference submissions, substitute teaching spin classes and my very first after hours work event, I’ve not had a single evening to myself this week. It would be reasonable of you to assume after reading this list that I might be done taking on extra obligations until, say, after I’ve wrapped up everything on this list, but you would be wrong. Because I’m clearly a sucker for punishment, I have signed up for the National Knit a Sweater Month challenge.

At this point, I’d expect you to be thinking either 1) yes, you are a sucker, or 2) why!?, or perhaps 3) what the heck is National Knit a Sweater Month? Well, I’m glad you asked! NaKniSweMo, as it is abbreviated, is a relative of the National Novel Writing Month (or, NaNoWriMo) challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. For knitters, our challenge is to knit a 50,000 stitch sweater of any kind in the 30 days of November. I’ve never been one to obsessively count stitches, but I’m told that most adult sized sweaters easily meet the 50,000 stitch criterion, so it’s simply a matter of picking an awesome pattern and getting started. For my very first NaKniSweMo, I’ve chosen Glenna C‘s Burrard.

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Burrard is exactly the sort of garment I’ve been craving since the air started to turn cold. A cozy and stylish Aran cardigan meant to be worn with a few inches of positive ease, it’s the perfect sweater to wear over layers on those chilly days when the cold feels like it’s penetrating your bones. The yarn I’m using Lion Brand’s 100% Pure Wool from the LB collection, which I picked up on my trip to New York last month. An undyed, fluffy single ply worsted weight yarn, the 100% Pure Wool is a pleasure to work with.  As for the making of the garment, this cardigan is a perfect challenge for me at this point in my knitting life. The cables are intricate and stimulating to knit, and Glenna’s pattern is beautifully written and easy to follow with the help of a couple of row counters. Though I do have limited experience with seaming, this is also my very first sweater knit entirely in pieces and sewn together at the end. Knitters more experienced than I say that seamed sweaters like this one tend to fit and hold their shape better after years of wear than do seamlessly knit sweaters, which is very good news. I would hate to only have a short period of time with something that requires so much skill and attention.

As for why I chose to knit such a challenging sweater at a time when I’m stretched pretty thinly time wise, this coming Monday marks the start of my second year as a knitter. With this anniversary in mind, I decided it was time to step up and challenge myself with something I’ve never done before. It remains to be seen whether I’ll be able to get it all done before the end of November while juggling all of my other obligations, but I’ll do my best. One way or another, this sweater will be mine.

Fellow knitters: Are you participating in NaKniSweMo this year? What are you making and how is it going?