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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!