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…

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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!

V

 

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