Fennel Ale – Part 1

My first sweater. (I hear a chorus in my head sounding in a crescendo of amazement.) I love it.
I received a book on knitting sweaters for Xmas, but reading through the instructions I was a bit intimidated. The steps weren’t technically unfamiliar, just overwhelming put all in one project. So, when I heard about the winter sweater class/knit along at my favorite LYS, it seemed the next logical step. I was nervous about my skill level and speed and general awkwardness, but it turned out none of these things were of concern.
The awesome instructor Ann (here is her blog ) picked the Pumpkin Ale pattern by Ysolda Teague (Rav link). I am not into orange, yet the shaping on this sweater seemed perfect for my (or any) figure. When I signed up for the class, the sweetly sassy shop owner raised an eyebrow at me, “Have you made a sweater before?”
“No.” I mumbled. A worried asymmetrical expression crept upon my face.
She mirrored my concern, “We want everyone happy with their projects, and even Ann says it is challenging.”
“Hm.” My brain then went into data listing mode, “Well, I’ve done cables, shaping, short-rows, and picked up stitches. Just never in the same project.”
She waved her hand, communicating that I needn’t worry, and grinned, “Oh! You’ll be just fine.”
I only sort-of believed her, and therefore prepared (over)extensively for the first meeting. (I detailed the swatching on my Rav project page in case anyone else geeks out on such things…) I mentally picked my yarn, printed the pattern, practiced the cables, steamed the swatches, brought my highlighter, color coded pens, my needle set, and even arrived a few minutes early. Which is weird. Though I do often start things nice and well-organized before I putter out…

I ended up using Berocco Vintage worsted in the color Fennel; I love the subtle flecks of yellow throughout the yarn and how the cable stitches pop. The super-fuzzy photo above seemed to be the best depiction on the actual color (at least on my screen). In class we read over the pattern practically line by line which gave me a much better understanding of how to tackle the sweater. I believe I would have been reading the pattern eternally rather than actually knitting it without the demonstration and translation! We were all assisted in choosing our correct size sweater and needle, discussed pattern errata, and started, steamed, or measured swatches. I was able to discuss all my overly thought out tidbits with a room full of like-minded women. I have stitch n bitch sessions with my best friend who crochets, but I had never been to any kind of knit night or knit along before. It was kind of great, a Socratic support group.
The back panel was first, complete with shaping built into the garter section between cables. I cast-on at the end of class but then continued at a local bar. It sounds strange but felt right sitting with friends in a large straight back armchair in an old Tudor-style hotel.  Plus it made the charts easier after having done set-up rows under the influence of whiskey sours.

Instead of looking at this post in my drafts for the next couple months, I think I’ll just publish it in parts. Perhaps the sweater will have sleeves during its next photo shoot!








Think too much Thursday


Sweater swatches

Started this post months ago, and you know what? It is done enough. To distract from it not really having a conclusion, I have included swatch pictures…  Ooooh, pretty. A preview of my first sweater, from the Pumpkin Ale pattern! (Which is currently a lovely vest, in other words, has no sleeves…)


I’ve been Writing Things Down rather than Typing Things Out lately. I love the sound, the smell, the feel of a pen’s scratches on paper, and I sometimes need it as an outlet. Words feel overly official once typed out, so I have this weird fear of acceptance when thoughts aren’t a mere scribble. Books and journals and binders provide me a sort of tactile comfort, much like yarn.

The notebook I use as a knitting journal is well labelled and organized; the start date and purpose printed clearly on it’s cover. It supplements my ravelry project pages with details of swatches, yarns, needles, gauges, equations. I expect it will be the first of many, though future ones will probably be in a binder and include the swatch squares. It fills me with glee. I have turned 33 since my last post, and feel like I am finally unlocking this girly, organizational skill-point that many women have inherently. Admittedly, this organization has become a requirement, what with the extra books and the yarn and project explosions.

The writing journals have an entirely different fate, a purposeful disorganization. I’ve been filling pages with a deluge of thoughts for most of my life, and for a long time I thought I was writing what equated to letters to no one. I have referred to my journals as a junk drawer rather than a diary. Thoughts get thrown in when I really don’t know what else to do with them. They can’t be neatly categorized, only grouped haphazardly, a collection of dejected associations. As a teen, thought-flow filled cheap, spiral bound notebooks while any hardback journals were saved for my more poetic musings. (Which are, for the most part, terrible, but have a few surprises.) I later started to collect so many beautiful books that I couldn’t write in just one; now I have one or more in almost every room. It seemed random until the realization struck that I have been writing to myself – my future self – all along.

Whenever the need to write strikes, I find the nearest journal or notebook, and look at the last entry. It has sometimes been years since the last entry (all are dated), yet I usually find the words I need. Whatever my struggle, my thrill at the time of writing, it ends up being topical for the future writer. I suppose it makes sense. If one keeps putting stuff in junk drawers all over the house, there is bound to be something helpful when the nearest one is opened.

to be continued…hopefully… 🙂