Are you challenged by your knitting?
A note from Kathleen: What challenges you? Is it a difficult pattern, a skill you want to master, a type of construction that you find difficult? Challenge can come in many forms. Here’s Lisa Shroyer to tell you about her recent challenges.
What I Learned from My Epic Sweater Project
Have you ever been in love with a project to the extent that setbacks and slow progress really just served as a way of prolonging the pleasure of knitting it? I’ve been knitting the same sweater for eight months now—actively working on this project that whole time.
Although the sweater is oversized, heavily textured, and worked on size 3 needles, it’s not that the knitting is slow—I keep ripping it out!
From gauge issues to reworked gussets to developments at the armholes and the yoke and the neck bind-off, this bright red gansey is a simple tube of purl patterning that has caused me more trouble than any project in quite some time. But I am so in love with it. I think I’m sabotaging my own work so that the knitting of it will not end.
The little steel needle tips, the toothy red wool with its high twist (I’m using Wendy Guernsey Wool, read about it in Knits Spring 2015), the panels of purl motifs and narrow rope cables now fully committed to memory and fingers, the way the fabric lies across the chair arm, stiff with texture and woolly character . . . I am definitely a gansey initiate.
This past year, my personal interest in the iconic fisherman sweater led me to the story of Sarah Lake Upton and her American gansey wool (Knits Spring 2015).
Another fan of the fisherman knit, Courtney Kelley, designed a modern gansey dolman for this issue (the Eastbound Sweater, at left), which she told me was one of her favorite designs ever. She sent the sample in with a sigh that was nearly audible from a thousand miles away. I understand.
As the year turns over and we slip into spring, it seems silly that I’m still working on this project. I do think it’s time to commit to progress and finish it, and perhaps get a chance to wear it before the earth rotates too much. I’m holding onto it, partly because I worry that the next project won’t be as enjoyable to knit.
And there lies the revelation that has tumbled into my lap along with the long red fabric: holding onto known entities for fear that nothing else will ever be better is something I do all too often. It’s an apparent oddity that is nevertheless common: creative people who fear the unknown. Is it not in the next discovery, the next experiment, that we flex our creative muscles and satisfy that inquisitive itch? That we grow?
Your first knitting project was a challenge, I am sure. But are you feeling challenged now? What will excite you, frustrate you, force you to rip and remeasure and chart and calculate and insert lifelines? What will be your next favorite kind of thing to knit? That’s what I want to find out this year.
In that vein, Interweave Knits will feature a variety of project types and techniques in 2015—some quite traditional and some highly unusual (perhaps not even using needles!).
I hope you’ll stay tuned and do some experimenting of your own, perhaps commit to an epic eight-month sweater that you’ll knit into a love story.
Lastly, don’t forget to subscribe to Interweave Knits. You’ll get inspiration and (good) knitting challenges delivered to your door four times a year.
Happy, happy knitting,