I have embarked on a project that has all the elements of Survivor, or The Voice, or Dancing with the Stars. It has rigid guidelines, an unruly set of contestants, and room for a lot of randomness. It’s definitely weird, but it has proved to be pretty entertaining.
How It Started
Karen Templer has been running a fisherman sweater knitalong over at Fringe Association. I decided to take part in this jolly event, and dove into the Ravelry pattern database to find a pattern that would a) be fun, b) be easy, and c) not involve the use of a cable needle despite the fact that fisherman sweaters by definition tend to include cables. I was going to do cables without a cable needle, no matter what. (The wise Grumperina explains it all to you here.) I find that cable needles turn knitting into something very tedious for me. Mostly I lose them, all the time, then try to use a toothpick or nail file or garden hoe with predictably dire results.
Rumor had it that Brooklyn Tweed’s new batch of patterns was going to focus on fisherman sweaters. I waited a week to see if this was true, and it was. I have to say, the Brooklyn Tweed Fall 2014 Look Book is as close to perfection as I have ever seen in a collection of patterns.
Spinnaker was the ticket. Véronik Avery hits a sweet spot of fun/easy/no cable needles needed.
Rule Number 1 of this knitalong is that I would use yarn on hand. I dove into Stash Zone C to find some yarn that would work. I swatched. Twice. Terrifying! Click only if you dare.
My constraint of having to use stash yarn made me itchy. My will cracked; I loaded up a shopping cart with Brooklyn Tweed Shelter. (Old World was the shade. [Wipes semi tear.]) And yet. And yet—I could not click that yarn into my life. It just felt like cheating. You have so much yarn. Use the yarn you have. Grow a pair! Quit whining!
I arrived at a superforgotten collection of yarns that began like a sourdough starter back in at least 2007.
The unifying thing here is that these are mostly the same color, sort of. They are souvenirs, I guess. I’m a sucker for a skein of ecru yarn. It pains me, actually, to reveal this to you. Who collects stuff like this?
2. Alpaca. I think this is Mel Vassey’s neighbor’s alpaca from Maine. I don’t really know, but I keep thinking about Rhinebeck when I see this yarn, so there must be some link in there.
3. Allen Farm Sheep and Wool Company, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. 2007. Corriedale, I’m guessing, from looking at the winsome sheep on their website. So sheepy a yarn that this skein has been found mowing my front lawn.
4. Colonial Williamsburg Leicester Longwool. 2008. Sheeny! Two skeins! Aw c’mon, take a moment to wallow in the glory of those Williamsburg artisans. It’s practically shoebuckle season.
5. Black Water Abbey Irish. Two skeins. Need to knit this double to match the other yarns. Very Irish. Feel like reading Yeats when I see this stuff. Or reading a Tweet about Yeats, actually. Who reads anymore?
6. Complete mystery yarn. It may have spawned from other skeins.
7 and 8. Great White Bale yarns, curated by Clara Parkes. Now, this treasure yarn from Clara Parkes’ Great White Bale adventure stumped me from the moment it arrived here. It’s like hummingbird lips yarn. Clara shepherded a 676-pound bale of scoured superfine Saxon Merino wool to its destiny of being spun in a variety of places all over the country. If you haven’t read her chronicle of how a bale of merino wool becomes beautiful yarn, I highly recommend it. I honestly can’t find the link but hope Clara will chime in about the current whereabouts of that spectacular tale. I think it’s going to be a book?
At any rate, I had to get over the hump of this Great White Bale yarn being too dear to knit. So into the basket it went.
There you have it: the eight contestants on “Knit Me a Fisherman Sweater.” What is going to become of this incoherent yet memory-laden pile of yarn? There will be winners and losers. But it’s not at all clear that there will actually be a sweater at the end of this thing.