When it comes to knitting, I have to admit that I’m generally in favour of the quick and dirty. That doesn’t mean that I shy away from big projects but more that I prefer to put all my attention into one (or two) projects so that I can bring them into being while I’m still in love with the ideas that went into them. From the hours spent contemplating and obsessing over the most perfect yarn to the process of swatching and then the knitting of it, I like to be consumed by that one project and to make it as quickly as possible. The project I’m featuring today was not one of those. And it’s got me thinking.
This is the Winter Pullover from Danish designer Marianne Isager. (Apologies for the slightly fuzzy shots but I was on the remote shutter with this one!)
I fell deeply in love with it when the very first delivery of Isager yarns and patterns hit the shelves at my beloved Sunspun and was especially excited to work with Isager’s Spinni yarn, a laceweight single spun in one of Denmark’s last spinning mills from sturdy Danish wool. I loved the way this design worked with so many of Spinni’s natural sheep shades, with little highlights of beautiful colour, the kind of wonderful, subtle shades you only find in Scandinavia. But it definitely took me a little while to commit to it. I knit colourwork in 4ply and am as happy to knit complex stuff as the next knitter but all those little squares!! in laceweight!! and all the ends!! Still, the squares are picked up as you go to avoid seaming… and I just couldn’t get it out of my head. So I decided to only pattern the front as I really didn’t want to do that many squares and, besides, I felt it might be a bit too much for me if patterned on both front and back- I normally wear pretty low-key knits!
And I have to say that it was a really lovely knit! The yarn was heaven to work with (great toothy handle and colours that I could stare at all day), it was surprisingly quick (I could get a couple of squares done over my daily train commute) and each little double stripe of colour was like a little treat for getting another square done. After discussions with my workmates (in which there was much debate about the merits of planning!), I decided to freewheel it and not chart out the colours in advance. Advance at your peril! I did pay for it in ripping and re-knitting time but I think it would have taken a lot of the joy out of it if I hadn’t had the little treat at each square… And (I can’t believe I’m saying this!) I actually enjoyed knitting it so much that the re-knitting was quite lovely!
Once the front was done, however, it became the knit that I picked up in between other projects. Not that I didn’t enjoy working the back as I really love garter stitch and the yarn was lovely to knit with. But it wasn’t engrossing in the way that the front was, engrossing enough to keep me moving with it. And, in amongst the knitting, came the move over to Scotland and the establishing of so many new things here. So I just plugged away at it bit by bit in the way I don’t usually like to do. Not quick and dirty. But I think that is what makes it special to me now. Knits hold memories in their stitches and, because I knit reasonably fast and monogamously, those memories are usually of quite a specific period. This one holds much more in it. Memories of knitting with my Sunspun crew and my sweet Mochi, during the packing up of our home and our journey over, in both our temporary home and now our own first flat here… and on Saturday, I got to wear it for the first time while teaching up at Dundee. That felt like coming full circle. And I think that perhaps this is the reason that some people embrace the long-term project.
So I’m starting to feel the benefit. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to be signing up for the Beekeeper’s Quilt but I might just have a second project that I gently work away on, in the quiet moments between the passion of other more demanding projects. And that the working away will create just as strong a bond with it as to the other.
So how about you? Are you in for the long-haul projects, the short and sweet, the full passionate or a bit of all? And what do you get out of them?
Just a few comments on Winter! I was a bit nervous that the boxy, square lines might not be particularly flattering, that it might emphasise my (generous) bust too much. I’m not sure that it’s the most flattering garment around but the incredible drape that worsted-spun Spinni lends to it means that it moves in a way that other, fluffy or woollen-spun yarns wouldn’t do. And I especially love the neckline, which softens the lines nicely too.
I made the smaller of the two sizes. I’m glad I did as I think the larger silhouette would swamp the body’s curves but I’m going to have to add a bit of length onto the sleeves as they ride up a bit.
It only weights about 300gm. So that’s a pretty affordable garment to knit and a super-lightweight one to wear.
And I played around with the colours as I wanted a softer palette with less contrast than the original. My shots don’t really do justice to the subtleness of the shades but I hope you get the picture.