On Giants' Shoulders

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A New Knitting Experience

I'm trying something new this week: a top down sweater. I have this book with patterns for "fitted" sweaters that I've been waiting to dive into. After I finished the infamous purple sweater (and ended up having to add on inches at the bottom to make it long enough) I decided that time had come. So yesterday I pulled out my bag of "plain vanilla" yarn (from yet another unknitted too large sweater) and started in. I think I'm going to enjoy this top down process. The seaming for the raglan sleeves is so very easy. I'm almost to the place where the front joins together and the sleeves get "taken off" just a couple of rows after that. So I've almost got the shaping down and I can look forward to hours of mindless stockinette stitch (my favorite sort of knitting to watch movies to). If this goes as easily as it looks like it's going to, and if the sweater fits well this may become my favorite type of sweater to make. Elizabeth Zimmerman used to say that top down sweaters were boring because all the interesting stuff happened first. I'm beginning to think I disagree. I think I like getting all the shaping done right up front. The prospect of being able to try the sweater on as you go and know whether it actually fits is also pretty attractive.

One other nice thing about this sweater is that it's being knit on size 10 1/2 needles. Since the purple sweater was knit on size 3's the contrast is striking. Don't get me wrong, I like the final result of the purple sweater. It fits well, it was worth the months of effort, however, I think I can finish this one off in about a week. That will mean I can move on to yet another reknitting job. I might even get all of my unraveled sweaters re-knit before the end of the winter. I must admit that is a pleasant prospect. Lest you think that re-knitting is a boring thing to do, I must disabuse you of that notion. It's actually fun to take the same materials and turn them into a totally different garment. I feel a bit like the little kid who takes the play dough they've sculpted into something, smooshes it into a ball and sculpts something new. This plain vanilla sweater is going to be totally different from the former plain vanilla sweater. The only common element will be the yarn. The sleeves will be different, the shaping will be different, even the neckline will be different. The neat thing is that when I'm finished no one who sees it will even be able to guess that it's a salvage job.

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