“I just want more of her.” A wonderful piece on the late lamented food writer, Laurie Colwin.

The Remembrance of Knits Past, Or, WHAT WAS I THINKING?

donegal2013.jpg
Dear Kay,
Moving ON. Powerful urge to plow ahead into the future, into knits unknown, horizons yet to be seen. The shock of the new.
More like the shock of the OLD.
After the long-haul pleasures of that Thorn shawl (thank you all for your supportive comments, and my apologies for offending Chicago Bears fans), I craved some color that I knew I would love.
At the foot of my desk, for many months now, has been a plastic bag filled with a knitting project that I started in 2008.
Alice Starmore’s Donegal pattern, from her earth-shattering 1994 classic, The Celtic Collection.
I dumped out the contents of the plastic bag and wept like a baby for about an hour, for a couple of reasons. 1.) The colors of these yarns are so breathtaking. 2.) I had no memory of any aspect of this project. I knew I had a large piece of knitting in front of me, with three uncut steeks, a half-done sleeve, and many small balls of yarn. I had a chart with two red lines drawn down the middle, and a truly OCD index card with yarns threaded through punch holes and labeled to match the chart.
Who did this? Who is so compulsive that she writes yarn quantities on a card?
Wellllllll, apparently it all started in 2008. Just in time for the weekend, I invite you to turn back the hands of time and enjoy the odyssey that is this Donegal sweater. This was back in the days of four-hour blogging, complete with all kinds of time-consuming attention to detail. Solid-gold tips in here. And at least one reference to 3,700 pieces of bacon.
A Naive and Cheerful Start.
Tracking Down Discontinued Yarns, or, The Kindness of Knitters.
[Long and bleak interval from May 2008-November 2009]
Cutting a Steek at a Skatepark.
A Lot of Information about Spit-Splicing.
Tips for Finer Fair Isle.
Another Re-start, This One Almost Exactly Expressing the Feelings I Am Having Right Now.
To be clear, we’re in January 2013, a good five years into this. Once again, I find myself all wound up about this thing. Obsession/dread/avoidance/obsession. It’s the circle of life!
Love,
Ann

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39 Comments

39 Comments

  1. Go ahead. Finish. the. sweater. You can do this!

  2. I have a 2 year old fair isle that is pretty much at the stage you were in November 2009. But it’s not next in the queue, so I’ll have to live vicariously. Thanks for the luscious colors – it makes vicarious that much more fun!

  3. oooooh, in that first 2008 post it says there’s yarn in there from me! What did I send you? can you remember? Or was it that time I just dumped all my old Rowan / Kaffe murkiness on you as I couldn’t think what to do with it?
    Are you ever going to wear this? And how come the cat hasn’t nested in it by now? Are you not telling us about the tragic Pop Tart in the bottom of the bag? B x x

  4. Oh boy, I remember these posts, which means I’ve been hanging out here a loooong time. It feels like yesterday. How can this be?
    I’ve been delving into five year old projects recently too. Feels good to git ‘er done.

  5. Ann, I too have many projects started in 2008 as yet unfinished . . . however as I was 18 and had only just learned to knit, I suspect that many of them would be frogged completely if scrutinized! No expensive kits of classic patterns in the plastic tubs at my dad’s house . . .
    Anyways, Mason-Dixon Knitting was one of the first knitting blogs I read–I remember pretty vividly reading it on the parental desktop computer before heading off to college and getting a laptop–and I remember being SO impressed by your project! I think maybe that was the first time I ever heard of Alice Starmore. And now here I am, 23 years old and a cute little Ysolda sweater that matches my wardrobe and personality can still take nearly a year to finish . . .

  6. This sweater is so beautiful, Ann. If you can finish this project, any of us can finish anything! I’m feeling inspired already.

  7. This post and the comments make me feel so much better about my closet stash! I am not alone!

  8. “”Here, ya smartypants, take yer Kit Kat and move ON.”"
    Ha! I had forgotten about that. Fun times.

  9. You’ve reminded me why I almost never knit lace or colorwork. This is what happens to the lion’s share of those projects. At this point, however, I would be frogging like a mad fool.
    My problem, which you blessedly don’t seem to share, is being struck by bouts of temporary amnesia when I forget that the Good Lord did not see fit to grant me his gifts of patience and a long enough attention span that would enable the knitting of lace and colorwork. Sigh.
    Good luck with the sweater. What you’ve done so far is so beautiful, it’s really well worth the time and effort getting the project back on track. We’ll be looking forward to your blog about the FO. Smile.

  10. You have nailed the definition of the circle of life! and I love the variegated green and yellow scarf.

  11. I am reeling from the tilt of timewarp, because I remember this very, very clearly, which means it all happened a year ago. Two, at the latest.
    Soooooo pretty, Ann.

  12. Just another encouraging voice. I remember this sweater. You can do it. You will be great. It will be done. You will marvel. Think of how much smaller the children were in 2008. They got that much bigger in the blink of an eye. You will get the sweater done, and suddenly 5 years of in-process will be the blink of an eye.

  13. Wow. This post sent me down the rabbit hole of past entries. I’m trying to decide just when it was I came to the party that is M-D Knitting. I know it was within months after the first book came out, because that’s how I found out about you, not (shockingly) via the blog. I found it at my local library in the New Book section. If memory serves me in this case, I believe it was glowing…
    Oh, and the sweater with its subtly shifting colors is so beautiful. I love landscape-like knitting, though I’ve never attempted it with Fair Isle.

  14. I know you will do this justice! Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  15. This blog post took more than 15 minutes to read! This is a lovely sweater and I hope to see another photo shoot as great as the one for the previous Alice Starmore extravaganza. Whenever you’re ready, dear!

  16. You can felt almost anything and turn it into a lovely pillow cover?

  17. Oh, Girl. I feel your pain. I have that same sweater in a UFO bag in my basement. However it is a UFO from, eep, erm, 1994. There. I’ve said it.
    Oh, the shame! If you can face it, I suppose I can. Except as I recall I have only about 4 inches of the body done.

  18. This walk down Memory Lane is so entertaining & inspirational – however I’m not going to go Starmore-crazy (I couldn’t anyway, I know my limits). I can’t wait to spend the weekend on my sweater/shawl from Purl Bee, though. It acts like a sweater without all the fuss & muss of actually being a whole sweater. A stunt sweater, if you will. Perfect for the chilly Miami air (conditioning)!

  19. Loved looking at the older posts! Kay, Olive was such a cute young pup! When did she get mean?

  20. Loved looking at the older posts! Kay, Olive was such a cute young pup! When did she get mean?

  21. >>Obsession/dread/avoidance/obsession. It’s the circle of life!
    Hakuna Knittata to both of you! Here’s to clearing up our horizons!

  22. For Kay: Also, I think Olive may have been The World’s Cutest Puppy. I love her current soulful look, too.
    And aside from the cuteness, your revelation that you had blanket-stitched the leg openings of her little sweater was just what I needed to (re-) read. I took your cue and blanket stitched around the armholes of a small (OK, doll)sweater. It finished it perfectly. Thanks!

  23. Yoikes! I hear ya, babe. Carry on: it will be worth it!

  24. This post generates so many thoughts:
    - Yes, donegal tweeds are soooo beautiful because each color contains a world of colors
    - Yes, when you’re trying to tell the 15 different colors in a Starmore project apart, many of the color names offer no hints. Or so I thought every time I searched for the color named Erica until I discovered while doing a crossword that Erica is the genus name for heather.
    - Related to one of the Harlot’s tweet threads today, my Starmore project was a sweater that gave up in advance. When I knit sweaters, until they’re done I always joke that they might turn into a vest. With Starmore, I knew I’d never make it thought sleeves too, so I just ordered a vest kit.
    - And I’m with Quinn: I’ve been reading since long before Olive came on board, but I couldn’t have been doing that more than a year or two.

  25. that’s ok, it took me five years to finish me log cabin afghan…

  26. I love you (not in a weird stalkerish way, just a bit weird, I understand you knitter way).
    P.S. I live in Sydney, Australia (just so you don’t feel worried).

  27. That sweater made me want to cry it was so beautiful.You have to finish it. The eyes of the world are on you now – or at least the eyes of a lot of knitters plus their glasses which almost doubles the eye thing and puts us into a serious world population category. Never give up! That one line reminds me of one of my favorite students who in 2008 (no lie) was a wall licker. Seriously he would lick walls until his tongue bled. After a long tongue wagging on my part about the disadvantages of wall licking,he cried out “I’ll never give up!” And for the rest of the day he repeatedly told me with large soulful eyes that he would never give up he, would always try and try and try (to lick the wall). You have to go at that sweater with Anthony’s determination. try and try and try…

  28. OMG! You can’t believe how your postvstrikes home. I am making the elephant baby blanket right now from Alice’s children’s collection. It is for my knitting nephew’s firstborn, so it better be darn good. The kit arrives and with it the great confusion. I read the pattern, I read it again, and again, and again. Something in the German mind won’t click. I put it away , reluctantly, because after all: I am a fair isle knitter, I should be able to do his!! And the colors of the yarns with all those botanical names are soooo gorgeous. I finally rally and make a color chart, attach little yarn samples (sound familiar?). I also do away with the steeking, because as a continental knitter I can strand back and forth. OK, I’m about 10% in and it looks delightful. I hope I can finish by April, that’s when Greyson arrives.

  29. Well, I have a beautiful half finished Celtic Coat by Kaffe started in the 90s. It sits. And I have all the yarn. I was going to do short rows for the shoulders an then freaked myself out. This was before I became master of the short row with the Lizard Ridge blanket. BTW, I provided missing yarn for your Alice Starmore. That Rowan Donegal Lambswool is fabulous.

  30. I remember all of your original posts and I remember thinking, “Wow, she’s a ‘real’ knitter.” I still haven’t done any fair isle yet and still am in awe that you would pick it back up again!

  31. I remember all of your original posts and I remember thinking, “Wow, she’s a ‘real’ knitter.” I still haven’t done any fair isle yet and still am in awe that you would pick it back up again!

  32. Nothing like the blogworld shouldering you along with your fortitude. I would have done a Kay or let it steep for future scientists to ponder.

  33. dear ann and kay
    please look up the new soctland tourism
    campaighn i fond it on the weather channel
    it shows the shetlands being dressed in
    handsome fairisle sewaters tis just grand
    not sure if i could mail it to you
    beauitul knits are you freezeing

  34. Oh gosh! As soon as I went back to one of the old posts, I *remembered* it too, it’s fabulous!

  35. ditto, Janet!
    drop-dead gorgeous sweater, Ann!
    LoveDiane

  36. this was a wonderful art exhibition made up entirely on UFOs. Lovely.
    http://www.theforumnorwich.co.uk/events/view/tales-of-the-unfinishable/14-01-2013

  37. It is a lovely sweater. It took me ages to finish mine but it was well worth all the hours of work I put into it. I still wear it, and I am so da-n proud of it!!!

  38. Oh, Starmore. We just can’t quit you.

  39. I have definitely got projects that old, though none of mine are nearly that level of difficulty. Maybe we can all dig through and find one old project to finish this year.
    Though, it is possible that some of my finishing might be a glorious rrrrriiippp!