Quick off the blocking mats: My first Sweater of the year from some very deep stash

Do you fancy a chat about knitting?

The sort of knitting that flies off the needles and gets the New Year off to a great productive start.
The sort of Project that also allows you to dig deep into the stash and use up that lovely yarn that isn’t quite a full sweater quantity.
The sort of sweater that thumbs it’s nose in the face of sleeve island.

Great, because that’s what I have for you today.

We spent the end of last year and the beginning of this in the UK catching up with family and friends, many of whom we haven’t seen for almost 2 years or more due to the covid pandemic. Our departure was all a bit hurried because having made all the extra plans that travelling across Europe and into the UK entailed, the day before we had planned to leave our home, the French authorities made a change to the rules. Initially unclear, these changes threw into doubt whether we’d be able to cross from France to the UK and ended up packing and loading the car in 2 hours to leave earlier than planned, to travel more directly, and in doing so build in some additional time so that if we couldn’t cross from France we had time to get to Belgium or the Netherlands to cross from there while our covid tests were still valid.

All this to say, the time set aside to plan my travel knitting disappeared. I grabbed the fingering sweater I was working on, and the Nuuk pattern which had been on my ‘to knit list’ and 9 x 50g balls, or 864m, of Jamieson and Smith‘s long discontinued Soft Spun Aran.

It is this second project, a sleeveless sweater in aran yarn that has gone from start to finish in a couple of weeks leaving the fingering sweater languishing on the needles in its wake. It wasn’t all plain sailing though.

Having decided that I wanted a slightly cropped length and fair bit of positive ease I chose my size, cast on, knitted the neckline, shoulders and joined the body at the under arms before really stopping to think about gauge. To be fair to myself, car knitting isn’t always conducive to certain technical tasks, or to washing and drying swatches and really I just needed to knit to calm my nerves and my anxiety through the making of stitches.

More time and planning would probably have resulted in sock supplies being packed but with no skein wound and having worked through a lot of my sock stash, I’ve been on a sock hiatus and garment kick, so instead my ‘go to’ was a sweater. Once joined in the round however, I tried on the sweater and realised that the body had quite a bit more ease than even I had been thinking of and that I thought would look good.

So with a third of the sweater knit I decided that I at least had a big enough ‘swatch’ work out my gauge and re-evaluate. This re-evaluation led to my frogging the whole thing and casting on again in the next size down. Now the thing about having to frog that much sweater and start again is that you, or perhaps I should just speak for myself, need to get going again pretty quickly so that the do over isn’t too demoralising. So that’s what I did.

The combination of 5mm needles and aran yarn meant the sweater went really quickly. I did put a little more length in the sleeves that the pattern called for but they remain short sleeves and by that stage the sweater was so close to being done that this didn’t slow me down much. It did take about a week for me to block the sweater, but now as you can see, it’s done and is ready to wear.

While others in different parts of the world have been having extreme weather recently, we’ve had a very mild winter so far this year, but still cold enough for this to get some good wear before the weather warms up. As you can see from my early morning photoshoot, we’ve ben waking up to some foggy, misty and damp mornings and this sweater is just perfect.

Stashless 2022

This sweater accounts for the first 717m of my 2022 stashless total.

Not that you’d know because I never got around to sharing here, but I participated in Stashless 2020, the inaugural knit along hosted by The Crimson Stitchery to work where possible from stash, to consider the resources we already have at our disposal rather than pursuing the new, and using that as a starting point to explore our own creativity. This is not about feeling guilty about our stash but thinking more consciously about what we have and what we need and, in my case, why I brought all this yarn all this way when we moved, if not to actually use it. In that first year I completed a lot of WIPs, bought very little new yarn and my shrunk my stash by 31,025m.

Approximately half of this was accounted for by finishing a series of crochet blankets that gobbled up all the small scraps of synthetic yarns that had been donated to a knitting group that I ran, but that were a little too scrappy to inspire beginners. In terms of creativity, I also worked through an lot of meterage of fine lace yarns, mostly held double and often dyed by myself to make them work together. This was a lot of fun and upped my meterage and made some great garments that have become wardrobe staples, although did less in terms of reducing the volume of yarn in stash storage.

Last year I continued in a similar vein and despite getting off to a good start, I fell down pretty significantly at the end of the year. Whilst 20,387m of yarn was knitted up, this was heavily offset against a club I was gifted, some gorgeous plant dyed yarn I bought, some undyed holiday yarns and an order of 5kg or 13,650m of undyed yarn made to coincide with my visit to the UK, ready to continue my explorations in natural dyeing this year. I also received quite bit of yarn support for upcoming design collaborations (so very exciting). While this is quite a change in the nature of my stash, and I would argue, makes it much more functional, it also means that my stash only shrunk by 2,257m last year.

Hopefully this year I’ll get back on track, I have all this beautiful yarn that I can dye and knit up and I can’t wait. In fact I have yarn already soaking and some mordanting on the wood burner as I type.

What are your plans for the year? Do you have some wardrobe staples in the queue, plans for particular yarns, goals you want to work towards or inspiration you wish to follow. I’d love to hear about it.

Until next time, take care and happy knitting,

Tess xxx

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