Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Great Divide

So this post will be about knitting - which may intrigue you or bore you to tears. Here's my level best to up the excitement-factor for those of you who understand the lure of shopping more naturally than the lure of shopping for yarn.

For those of us who knit... There's a special kind of joy in using up one's stash to make something new. Like knitting for free! And if you add to this equation, some masochistic inclination to unwind a sweater that already exists (see below), then you are very rich indeed!

Note to reader: Had I known that this sweater's unwinding process / rewinding process was going to take 5 hours (I weave in ends with satanic precision), I might have just put this thing on the lawn. Especially since this colourway is so challenging. It's not grey and it's not blue and it's not clear and it's not warm. Such are the outcomes, on occasion, of buying yarn online. But it's Quince and I have 1040 yards of it and that yarn costs money, and takes energy to create and I'm not ready to chuck it because Chickadee is a lovely yarn to work with, and super-affordable, even if this colour doesn't really thrill*. And I want to find its worthy project. Also, stash-busting.

But the unwinding didn't leave me with quite enough yarn to make this sweater. And now I really want to make it - having already made an Emily Greene design that was SO enjoyable to knit. And, natch, I have to bust the stash. You can see where this is going.

No worries, I thought to my (naive) self: I'm sure I have enough of another stash yarn to do the hem bands in a contrast colour. Um, no. Quince in the Storm colourway apparently goes with nothing else I've ever bought in the history of my lifetime.

Add to the conundrum - the sweater is knit bottom up so I have got to commit to a contrast colour from the get-go. Sure, I could reverse the pattern instructions but, ahem, see the para below.

Sidebar: OMG, people. This pattern is 39 pages long. It's a 5/5 on the skill scale, something I rarely consider when I'm buying patterns (until after all is said and done). But my impulsive self rarely goes above a 4/5, just on instinct. I don't know what it says about me that it didn't even occur to me that this pattern - designed by an architect who works with the Brooklyn Tweed group - wouldn't perhaps be on the sassy side. Perhaps it says of me: I just built a fucking house and that's a 100/5 on the skill scale. And I didn't even have any fucking skills. So I think the stakes are relatively low. But here's the thing, between two yarns of two different gauges (I'm getting there, read on pls) and the most challenging pattern in the land (theoretically), I'm not freakin' reversing the order of operations. (Nor, for what it's worth, do I intend to modify the sizing. That would be insanity. The proportions of this sweater in the second size seem more or less aligned with mine. If it doesn't work out, oh well.)

Did I mention that of those 39 pages, 10 of them are charted cables (even though this sweater looks deceptively like rib). You don't like charts, you don't knit this thing. Oh, and also, there's a whole technique section that tells one how to cable without using a cable needle (something I've tried on occasion without a lot of success). I think I'm about to nail it because, apparently, the alternative is untenably slow. I've said it before and I'll say it again - don't bother to spend your money on Brooklyn Tweed yarn but never resist their patterns. BT patterns are amongst the best you will ever find, in just about every way - particularly in terms of clarity of instruction.

But back to the hem band yarn.

It would appear that even the knitting store, full to the rafters with all the kinds of yarn, had but one yarn that met my hem band colour-scheme needs, Classic Elite Adelaide:

(How adorably meta that the Insta caption references this post!)

I don't know how there was only one option. I looked at everything. Three times. But the kismet of this choice, aside from the fact that the yarn is utterly gorgeous and Quince-complementary in colour, hand and drape, is that the yarn was on sale for 25% off?!?! It cost about 50 bucks, all in, for 4 skeins  (~500 yards) but the skeins were heavy and I scored an additional 25 extra yards, truly for free. Is this yarn straight-up budget? No. Is it very reasonably priced given the quality? In my opinion, definitely. And I'm in it for an enjoyable knitting experience. If I don't love the yarn, what's the point?

Alas, it was on sale because the entirety of the Classic Elite brand is being shuttered. This is not because its yarns aren't incredibly popular, cuz they are. I think the designer is looking for a new challenge. File under: Why didn't I find this yarn years ago?

But all of the problems of the world have yet to be resolved. These 2 yarns - Quince Chickadee and Classic Elite Adelaide - are of differing weights, which is, theoretically, sub-optimal. I still can't predict how much yarn the hem bands will utilize. I can't imagine that it could be more than 300 yards. But if there's one thing I've learned, it's that many of the small-looking things take up the most yarn. In practice, I have faith. And I'm not rushing this. Do I need a new sweater next week? Nuh-huh. Can I let this sit quietly at any moment, in lieu of expressing compulsive behaviour? I believe I can and that I will.

Frankly, I love to knit. I love everything about it - even the bad things (which are barely bad). If I start and don't finish, who freakin' cares? It won't be the first time. And if I do find my way through this well-written maze, then I will have learned so much. And I'll have a super-cool sweater.


* I note with interest that this is my second time in a row knitting with a Quince colour that I don't love - and once again I'm applying it to a complicated sweater pattern designed by Emily Greene. Admittedly, if I could find this yarn in store, I wouldn't have an issue. But, to date, its affordability (and the great adventure of online purchase) have superseded my disappointment. Having said this, in future I'm sticking to the colourways I know unless I can see the skeins in real life and touch them.


  1. I love it and thanks for the instagram link -- just started following you -- lovely pictures!

  2. I meant to say before (feel free to delete comment) -- that I love the sweater -- but glad you are reusing the yarn! I have about three sweaters (machine cashmere) I need to do this with! I love your instagram too and am now a follower!

    1. I haven't been brave enough to do this with machine cashmere. One time I tried to frog a light-fingering handknit in cashmere and it didn't go well (again, because of my insane way of weaving in ends so that they will NEVER come out). I just threw it out in the end. But I think the specific yarn was to blame (not simply because it was cashmere). I feel like buying a thrift sweater and giving it a go. Lovely to meet you!

  3. Good luck on the new sweater! I've unravelled my share of sweater fails in my life--I'm not always that great about reusing the yarn, though. I have a bag of rewound balls from a sweater I unravelled last fall and I just can't find a project that I want to use them on. (To say nothing of the numerous skeins of yarn I bought for sweaters I've not made yet--oy!)

    I'm a big fan of Quince yarn (Chickadee in particular is so nice to knit with) and the Classic Elite looks lovely. That pattern, though. Wowzers. Well beyond my patience. May the force go with you. :)

    1. I know - this is the problem! When I unravel a whole sweater to get another sweater and then the math doesn't work out so I have to buy more yarn?! But the lady at the yarn store said it to me straight. She said I should just stop trying to give up the stash because that's what it's there for. I'm not articulating it well but it made perfect sense and I added an extra skein to the mix :-)

      The Chickadee really is nice yarn and it must be repurposed appropriately. That's what I signed up for when I bought it.

      This pattern may or may not be the one for it, but we'll see as I go along. And thanks for the well-wishes. I'm squirreling them away!

  4. Classic Elite closed? How sad! So much of their yarn and so many of their patterns in my knitting life