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Thursday, February 18, 2016

My Guernsey journey (part 3)

I finished the body a few days ago!  Whew.  I've also done the neck edging and completed one sleeve, but I don't have photos yet of that.  Working on it lately has been a little tricky, because my thumb wanted to bother me (tendon issues that come and go) and we have had unseasonably warm weather the past few days.  I love warmer temperatures, but having a wool/silk sweater on my lap creates a bit more than I need at the moment (the junipers have also woken up with our "early spring," which means I'm in sneeze mode, ugh).  

Here's the front:

Close up of the front yoke panel (Tree of Life) which helped me practice my cables (tinking those rows was not fun, so I learned quickly to be more careful).

I have learned a great deal so far and am really looking forward to finishing and blocking this baby.  And you didn't hear me say this, but I might actually want to do another...

Friday, February 5, 2016

My Guernsey journey (part 2)

I messed up.  Yes, all knitters make mistakes, but this one was a doozy--I reached the point in the Guernsey where the chart has to be read back and forth for right and wrong side rows, as I divided it for front and back and was no longer working in the round (where all the symbols are the right side).  This switch was tricky, after doing thousands of stitches right side only...so I found myself undoing and redoing quite a bit, much to my annoyance.

The chart is rather involved (I can't imagine trying to knit a Guernsey without a chart--it is just as important a tool as yarn and needles), so I didn't want to take time redraw it, but I had to have some way to make myself take notice that I should be working on the wrong side.  At first, I had marked the purls in the pattern with an X, leaving the knit squares blank, but habit from working in the round kept sending me off track.  So after tinking another row of 147 stitches (!), I decided to color in the whole square on the graph paper for the purl stitches on the wrong side.  I got out my pencil and set to work.

I'm still making mistakes.  My next option, then, is to color code using red or a highlighter that will definitely get my attention (because I need a neon "hey!"), and I think I will take the time to do that; in the long run, I need to be sure I will know which row I am on (have I mentioned I don't like tinking at all?).  Should I ever have the urge to do another Guernsey, I will take time before beginning to draw out the charts for both rounds and the back and forth work, having learned my lesson!

Here's the progress before dividing--it's going much faster than I expected. Yay!

Friday, January 22, 2016

My Guernsey journey (part 1)

Inspired by my Scottish friend J, who has knitted some remarkable Guernseys (also called Ganseys, if you're searching them out), I have embarked on making one for myself.  I splurged on yarn, a wool/silk blend from Knit Picks, and started a few days ago. I didn't have the proper needle (one was too short and the other too long), but I was impatient, so I started working on the ribbing for the bottom on the longer needle, going back and forth (the dark line at the top of the photo is the split that will be sewn together later):

I've bought a proper needle and made a bit more progress since then, and so far I am happy with the pattern.  That's a good thing, because working with DK yarn and a size 3 US needle means it will be with me for a while--it builds rather slowly as it requires a denser fabric.  I'll be adding a little "zing" to the yokes when I get there as well by changing the design somewhat (the swatch is in progress now).

While doing my research, one thing I read about this kind of sweater is that the knitter personalizes it by choosing designs that "tell the story."  I spent a few days looking at traditional designs, drawing charts, and knitting swatches before I could decide which ones to include.  Here's what I settled on (and I will get a clearer picture soon):

Diamond, because life can (and should) be rich
Tree of Life, which is self-explanatory (and I have children & grandchildren)
Twisted Panel, because whose life isn't full of twists? (and because I have become a little obsessed of late with the look and possibilities of twisted stitches)
Life Lines, my renamed version of Marriage Lines, to represent ups and downs
Ladder, because we hope always to climb upward (also can represent the desire for Heaven)

The back stories of each of these choices is long and involved, so I won't bore you with them, but going through the process of choosing was itself an interesting exercise.  Who would have thought knitting could be so philosophical?  I probably looked at 50 different knit/purl and cable combinations and knitted samples of about a third of them, thinking about what each one represents and whether it applied to me enough to be "part of my story."  I feel sure that this sweater will be with me for many years and that I'll think about its meaning every time I wear it.  I'm working to focus on the positive with the work as well so that I can associate that with it in the future.

As it builds, I'll add photos, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how it takes shape (and learning a new technique--I've not done a pullover from the bottom up yet).  

For more on this type of knitting, check out Gladys Thompson's book.  Wish me luck for the rest!