A Summer in the Making: A new Finished Sweater

Goodness me, sometimes yarns can be as prevaricating and evasive as people. You know the sort, those that lurk in the stash for years, hiding behind the prettier and softer skeins, wary of putting themselves forward as candidates for any particular project. Then, when they do it’s with such a lack of conviction that the combination of yarn and pattern doesn’t work and they enter false start and disqualification territory. Although I have to admit that this latter failing cannot be left at the door of the yarn alone.

This is how it’s been with the yarn in my latest finished project. The 2 main yarns have been in my stash for a while, at least 10 years, but probably 12. I think my first Woolfest was in 2009 and I bought this yarn at either my first or second Woolfest the following year. The yarn I used for the ribbed neck, cuffs and hem came from an online swap group, also now defunct.

Main yarns, left and top right, neckline, hem and cuff yarn bottom right

The mains yarns are both from the same dyer and one was a semi-solid blue and the other combined that blue with purple and green in a more variegated dye treatment.

I’ve tried these main yarns it in a few patterns, from shawls to other garments none of which ever reached completion. A skein of yarn dyed brown and also from the same base became a pair of socks for my partner, and this sweater was a bit of a last chance saloon for these skeins; if they didn’t work this time, they too would become socks.

One of the reasons this yarn presented me with a challenge is that it’s a worsted spun superwash yarn with pretty high tight twist. This makes for good hardwearing socks, if not the warmest. The yarn is so tightly spun that it doesn’t trap the air so much and has a slight stringy feel to it. I’m sure if you’ve come across a lot of hand dyed yarns you will have come across this type of base. And that leads me to the second challenge, it’s hand dyed and it seemed a shame to hide it away inside my boots or shoes. I felt it deserved the chance to be something a little less hidden from view.

In the end, my change of circumstances led me to try something different with this yarn. An experiment that, even if it failed, wouldn’t be a problem. I’ve spoken about the need to shift my knitting mindset to a new climate before and wow, this summer’s relentless and brutal heat has reinforced this need way more that was really necessary.

So I decided to work this yarn into a T-shirt and see if that almost stringy, tightly worsted spun yarn would be suitably cool for the summer. Perhaps not high summer when in fact any clothes at all feel like an unbearable burden and instead I just want to be in the sea, a lake or a river, but you know, you can’t spend the whole summer submerged as amazing as that would be.

The pattern I chose is Eclipse by Josée Paquin of UandIknit. I do love a square neckline. I knit the pattern as written using 1 row stripes of the 2 main yarns using the helical stripe method. Despite being a really simple square necked raglan Tee that took less than 800m of fingering yarn for my size, it took me all summer to whip this up. I thought it would be my early summer knit but it seemed to take ages to get through the yoke, although once I did, I sped through the body, aided by my decision to make it a little shorter than the pattern suggests.

The main reason for the slowness of my knitting is really how little time I spent knitting over the summer. I noticed this was also the case last year and determined that this would be different. I have yarn in my stash that needs transformation and a new purpose, but the combination of travelling a lot more this year, and the outrageous heat (I’m sorry but I’m not a hot weather person and this year has been crazy) meant that I had so little motivation to knit. I tried to push myself with dyeing and small projects as in my last post, but bigger projects languished.

Not to worry though, this is now finished and the weather is still in the low 30s (Celsius = high 80s into 90s Fahrenheit) so I will still be able to see how this yarn works as a warm weather yarn. We’re heading north for a few days to visit friends so I’ll try it out then and report back. If it doesn’t work in the heat, it has plenty of ease so will be a perfect layering piece once it cools off.

As pleased as I am to have this off the needles, and as excited as I am to wear it, I find myself reluctant to start anything new. I think I may just prioritise finishing up a few WIPs and digging out a few design projects that have also been neglected this summer. I have a sweater project in mind for once it cools down but there’s no way I’m ready to knit a full on winter sweater right now…

If you’re in the northern hemisphere, how has your knitting been this summer? If you’re not, what do you work on when it’s warm? Any tips and hints are very welcome.

Happy knitting until next time,

Tess xxx

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