I learned from my mistake, but is it a lesson that I will have to relearn later?
As I’ve mentioned before, I learned, really learned, to knit in the fall of 2005. In that time I made a chenille scarf, moved on to an eyelash scarf (I could live my life happily without seeing another skein of eyelash yarn), a cap, and four La Luz Eyemasks from Handknit Holidays. Around early December I began shopping for sweater projects, and chose a Notable Surge from a 1963 Spinnerin booklet, and the second sweater-of-all-time: the River Forest Gansey from Handknit Holidays.
At that time, my yarn shop did not carry the prescribed Cascade 220, so I asked for alternatives, and had my husband (the intended recipient) to pick out his favorite yarn from the selection shown me.
If I’d known then what I know now, I would have abandoned this project entirely until I could have ordered Cascade. But I was new, and I believed that the yarn goddesses at the shop would certainly guide me well, as they knew I was a beginner.
Cascade 220 is a lovely, lightweight, pliant yarn. It has a smooth texture, making the subtle patterning in the River Forest Gansey really pop. The pattern calls for the main body to be worked on a US 7 needle. Small, but not infinitesimal.
I purchased, however, a Donegal Tweed Homespun. The colorway is a dull black with cream slubs, and the yarn is stiff and difficult to work. So stiff, in fact, that to at least approximate the desired gauge, I have to work this sweater on a US 5. I probably should have gone down another needle size, but frankly the yarn is not wanting to bend much more than that, and Donegal Tweed is intended to be worked on a US 8. I’d already dropped the needle size three times. The color is like knitting a black hole, absorbing all light, so it is difficult to see where I am in the pattern. And the slubs tend to make the patterning disappear.
The yarn shop had to order the yarn because they did not have a sufficient supply of the dye lot, and by the time it came in (thankfully) I was busy with other projects, dealing with a family tragedy, and preparing to leave an a multi-week trip to South Korea. Because I had absolutely no business starting this sweater as a first-ever sweater project.
When I did, finally, and worked out the cast on (instructions in the previous post), the second thing about this pattern that made it confusing was the chart.
Oh. Did I mention I’d never worked on a chart?
The instructions for establishing the pattern say to knit, in my case, 7, work the 24-stitch repeat X times across, end 37. At first I thought that meant to knit 7.
Looking at the chart, both the rows and columns are numbered. Knit 7 refers to which column on the chart to begin. End 37 means to end the pattern on column 37 of the chart - adding a stockinette stitch selvage on both sides.
What have I learned?
- Not to use a bumpy yarn if I want to show off a stitch pattern.
- Not to use stiff yarn for a project that calls for small needles.
- Not to use dull black yarn if I want to be able to work on this under artificial light.