You get those projects, you definitely do. Starmore (cross fingers and shudder) was the last, and perhaps I'd relaxed a bit, forgotten about the suffering and the pain as one is inclined to do in post-traumatic stress disorder recovery. I didn't have an inkling, when I announced happily to all and sundry that I was going to try the Michael Kors Aran sweater featured on the cover of the fall issue of Vogue, that this would turn out to be one of THOSE.
I swatched in my beautiful natural silk/cashmere. I swatched again. I went down a whole size in needle (heck it was narrow enough at 4.5mm I would have thought, I could barely see the 3.5mm). Eventually I managed to get a swatch which measured slightly less than that suggested in the pattern.
I'd done a bit of homework you see. Oh I've learned a few tricks the hard way. I ran around the Net, surfing little knitting waves here and there, and found a few other people who'd tried the Michael Kors. Big, they all admitted. Very big. Not just roomy but huge. Yeah, well, it does give the measurement for the XS as 44" chest, which is kinda large. Which is why I was trying to make a swatch measuring less than the given size. Which I did.
So I cast on an awful lot of stitches and worked away diligently on a particularly tasking type of twisted rib - not only k tbl but p tbl as well, and if you've ever tried to purl through the back of the loop, you'll know it isn't something you can do with one eye on a television documentary and the other on a small Pekingese tearing something suspiciously familiar to pieces in the corner of the room. But I persevered. Until half way through the requisite number of rows I began to suspect that there was more here than called for. Where the heck is the measuring tape? Why is it that you can own a dozen or more tapes and still never be able to find one? Where do they all go? Have they a secret rumpus room where they hold measuring tape parties?
But I ran one to earth (looking slightly guilty on the stairs, where he had no business to be) and checked. Yep, worst fears realised. This was way wa-a-ay too big. B-r and b-l - no, no, stop that. Tsk tsk, how tiresome. And so we come to Frog Number One.
Here are all those painfully-worked little stitches yanked off the inexpressibly tiny needle (yes, it was down to 2.5mm for the rib, let's hope this doesn't go any lower) and slowly, slowly being frogged back and rewound on to the cone. I hate doing this to such a classically beautiful yarn as silk/cashmere. It doesn't do it any good. And no matter how careful I am, I can never get the last few inches of the cast-on row unripped, so it inevitably ends up in Muffy's collection bowl, where I keep all the odds and ends of yarn to make into an attack ball for her.
Recalculate, reswatch, cast on again. Tackle that b-y impossible p tbl again. Work away again.
Oh hell. It can't be. Surely not. Call on DH to hold down one end of the wiry little circular while I take a quick measure. Rowlocks and bollards! Now it's too narrow!
Here is the second frogging session about to start. In the meantime, to allow cooling-off time (the woodburning stove was burning merrily and I did cast a longing eye towards its flames once or twice while clutching the offending ribbing, I will admit), I grabbed the 3.5mm and did yet another small swatch.
Yes, I realise that ribbing on a finer needle will measure less than the main body of the work on the larger, but this ribbing was seriously behind in the inches stakes. It wouldn't have reached across my body, no way. More rewinding, more grimy inches in Muffy's collecting bowl.
I am now on to Phase Three and keeping my fingers crossed. I don't even want to put up a picture of the work in progress, in case it's bad luck. I'll keep you posted.
Oh, and in the meantime, I went off the Michael Kors design. Too many stitches, too big, too much adaptation required of a pattern that wasn't that great anyway. What I really wanted was a simple, classic, cabled polo, reasonably figure-hugging, so I decided to design my own. If you want it done properly.... A simple pattern of k4, p 1, cable 4, p 1, k 4, etc. It should look very nice. If I ever get past the ribbing, that is.
Enough of these stressful matters. Let's turn to nicer things. We've been having very cold weather here, with even a tiny sprinkling of snow on the Kerry mountains.
We've had some wonderful sunrises too, with the whole sky glowing molten gold in the last few minutes before dawn.
And then, when the sun actually peeks above the horizon, the sky pales and brightens over the lake.
Although it's been perishingly cold here today (by Irish standards), and the ice didn't even melt on the pond, so I had to put out dishes of water for the birds, nevertheless when you looked out from the upstairs sitting room window you would swear it was spring already.
Can you see a tiny house in the middle of the far distance, alone in a huge field? It really is a tiny deserted cottage with nothing whatsoever around it. Predictably we call it the little house on the prairie and I say hi to it whenever I look out. We walked up there one day last summer to look at it - a fair distance across hedges and streams and bogland too it was. The cows keep it company when they're grazing around there. Sometimes I think of it when I'm in bed at night and send it good wishes.
But back to the knitting (retourner a nos tricots?) Talking away as I was about that Michael Kors sweater which now isn't a Michael Kors sweater, I conveniently managed to forget that there are already waiting patiently in various places around the house:
Item. The Travelling Cables cardi, in a thicker silk/cashmere, about the pattern for which I raised such mayhem until the blessed Angeluna located it for me and posted it on. The back well begun.
Item. The Celtic Vest, in a poppy-red lambswool, again pointed out to me by Angeluna as an ideal project (she was right), and eventually run to earth in a back issue of Interweave Knits. A third of the way up the back.
Item. The Blackberry Pie socks, in a wonderful natural-dye yarn from my dear friend Ms Knitingale. Both half-way down the leg.
Item. The Norah Gaughan asymmetrical charcoal alpaca crop jacket, about which I enthused so wildly all over the place. Most of the back done.
Item. Oh I'm getting depressed. I haven't seen those others in months anyway and out of sight out of mind. As long as I don't start anything else I'm all right. Just keep working away.
(Would it not be better, a tiny voice asks, to at least work on those which are already further along than this entirely new cabled polo sweater? Yes, it probably would. I will consider your suggestion later on this evening. Much later on this evening.)
Gosh, has anyone else seen that gorgeous asymmetrical sweater from Berroco, illustrated in their advert in the winter issue of Vogue?
I went hunting for it, and it's a free pattern called Tierra which you can download from their website! Don't you just love that angled edge? Now if I just had the right shade of lavender/purple in a smooth yarn to show off the cables...
Oh shut up! I was only looking!