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    The swatch for this project would kill me. I’m sticking with garter stitch.

  • my girlfriend loves that one particular sweater, but to me, it looks like a $(%^&$& to knit. I’m in love with others in that book and I’m trying to get brave enough to try.

  • That is frikkin
    I’ve never wanted to knit Starmores before, but yeah, man!
    Wait! This isn’t just a ploy to get more people into your slog-along, is it?

  • Hahahhhahahahhhhhaaaa, now I’m thinking I should knit it in shades of murk – an all grey starmore!

  • It is always fascinating what different people find difficult. I think if you break it down into enough bite size pieces, anything is do-able. And then there is the whole other side- I know I could do that crazy sweater, but really I don’t w-a-n-t to break it down into all those little bite sized pieces.

  • [Lying down with a cool dishrag on my forehead.]
    You had me at ‘peplum’.
    Zero point zero chance of me knitting that thing. Although I would look foxy as HELL in it.
    xoxo Kay

  • Zero point zero! Big Ghostbustas sign over that pattern! What are ya, Sioux? Mohegan?

  • Just out of curiosity – in the “Pebbles” photo…is the model’s zipper down???
    It sure looks like it.
    For some reason, that makes me happy, especially since Fair Isle and intarsia make me woozy.


  • Knitting. Supposed to be fun, yes? This sweater: not fun.

  • Ann – your question of “what makes hard hard to you?” can be answered in sooooo many ways…where to start? It’s too hard if I can’t even look up from the chart long enough to see the Moment of Zen at the end of the Daily Show or see the typed remarks on the screen that accompany Colbert’s The Word. Or if I miss the Torii Hunter grand slam for the Twins. That’s too hard.

  • I think I need to lie down. For a long time.

  • What no steeks???

  • I remember drooling over those patterns a while back… and about all that makes that sweater impossible is the ‘knitted flat’ part. DO IT IN THE ROUND!!! You know you want to. All the cool kids will.

  • Egads! That is just insane!

  • There are two things that make knitting hard. Knitting or purling together large numbers of stitches, and badly written/full of mistakes patterns.
    This one? Challenging. If the pattern is written clearly, doable. But I’d definitely choose a different colorway, and I’d have to wait until my kids are all over 6 years old.

  • For me – intarsia is hard – not just hard but torturous beyond belief. China Clouds by Ken Fassett (rowan 28) is HARD! pretty but hard to imagine me ever making it…

  • That made me brain hurt.

  • Novelty yarn makes knitting hard for me. Knitting a teddy bear with shaping on every. frigging. row. using novelty yarn. Blech. Mostly, the novelty yarn part. Otherwise, bring it on, baby!

  • I wouldn’t get past the 4 pages of close-set (small type?) text instructions, let along the peplum. No need to torture my aging eyes.
    The Pebbles looks like camouflage.

  • What makes something hard is when it’s boring as hell. Think of washing windows – all of them, inside and out, in a big house.
    So that be-peplum’d ketchup-and-mustard number wouldn’t be so bad, if you were really interested in the knitting. Why do you ask? Are you thinking of knitting it?

  • i don’t even know what some of those words mean. i’ll be diving back into my sea of stockinette now.

  • I’ve seen that pattern before. Nothing you can say will stop me from wanting to knit that sweater! Nothing! Muahahahahah!

  • Intarsia and cables should never be used referring to the same thing..and especially not twice for one pattern, wait make that three times..

  • Nothing’s hard, but plenty of things are tiresome. I truly lack the patience for complicated patterns. I get too bored if I can’t do anything else while I’m knitting. If I have to stare at a chart instead of reading a book or watching “24,” it’s not going to happen.

  • Heh. That’s one Starmore that has never, ever, called to me. Possibly because in that colorway I’d look totally putrid wearing it.
    It’s funny — I’ve never considered the hardest sweater in Tudor Roses. I’d give that honor to Margaret Stuart — the one that’s knitted in strips and sewn together and embellished with buttons. That just seems like WAY too much work to me. 🙂

  • I believe Eunny could do it backwards and in high heels. Peplums don’t scare her.

  • The scariest part of the sweater would be wearing it — well, wearing ANYTHING with a peplum. Heck, I come with my OWN peplum, all built-in! ALL my sweaters have peplums! (Pepli?)

  • The hardest thing I have ever tried to knit, and am continuing to try to knit, is a Tom Baker Doctor Who scarf. 30 feet of garter ridiculously wide garter stitch. It makes me want to tear my eyes out, long for a complicated lace pattern, or even just a purl stitch to break the monotony. Nothing, in my opinion, is harder than something that is boring.

  • At first I thought you were up for a contest, and then I realize you already have the winner there. Man. i don’t even want to suggest anything else. You got me. I have to go lie down now.

  • I’ve been brooding on the ‘what makes hard, hard?’ question myself and have decided for my designs I’m gonna just list the skills needed and let the knitter decide if it’s hard.
    In the case of Katherine, I think it’s the cumulative effect. None of those skills particularly scares me, by itself. But knowing that at any time it’s likely ten or twelve of them are going on at the same time while knitting? Yeah, that’s kinda scary. Though as someone who’s been knitting twenty years, after a while I’ve found my ‘too hard’ category has shrunk considerably, but the ‘too much bother’ category is HUGE.
    Food for thought. If your brain’s hungry.

  • Yeah. That sweater is one I would buy, but never knit. I knit to relax and unwind. Perhaps after the kids move out I’ll need to get that wound up over a knitting pattern (but don’t count on it!)

  • MaryB: The classics major in me can’t resist – I’m pretty sure the plural of Peplum is pepla. It’s a 2nd declension neuter.
    That sweater may be a technical masterpiece but I can’t imagine that it would ever look good on anyone, no matter what colour scheme you worked it in…

  • And while I’m commenting, I’ve always wondered about Alice. Do you think she does EVERYTHING from an aesthetics point of view, or do you think once in a while she has a “YEAH! LET’S MAKE THIS REALLY HARD!” moment?

  • Wow. I am going to have to look for that book. Not that I would likely ever knit any of the patterns but just because it looks so very intriguing! You have to wonder about th person who decided that the world was not complete without a knitting pattern for this garment. I would like to have been there to witness its birth.
    And why did I immediately think of your oh-so-long-ago yarn acquisitions, Thing 1 and Thing 2.

  • It turns out that garter stitch is hard for me. Don’t laugh. I tend to make a lot of mistakes when I don’t look at my knitting for a long time, and for some reason I get ballsy when I’m knitting garter stitch and hence my current WIP has been ripped 3 times for mistakes. :/

  • Wow, it is amazing. I will never ever be that good of a knitter, and really, that is okay by me. Very pretty to look at though 🙂

  • Someone *has* made it! I was in a knitting shop in Toano, Virginia (since closed, alas) and that sweater was lying on the table. The owner had made it on commission, as I recall, for a wedding outfit. The colours were kelly green with gold trim; not my cup of tea but the workmanship was amazing.
    Like others have said, it’s all just step by step. It would be like several simpler projects in one. I’m in the middle of building “Margaret Stuart” myself (the one made in strips, referred to above). It’s no harder than, say, 20 lace scarves. 🙂
    (I was laughing really hard about the “built in peplum”… that was my first thought when I saw the sweater, too!)

  • Mote: interestingly enough, if you go back to the Greek (where Latin got ‘peplum’) the word seems to be masculine, but the plural is still pepla. Go figure. Thought I would share 🙂 Go Classics!
    For the category of difficult knitting patterns I gotta throw Teva Durham’s Short Row Fair Isle sweater out there. Really. Fair Isle? In Short Rows? What makes it all the more infuriating is the fact that I really want to own this sweater.

  • Wow, that pattern looks fiddly! That’s what I find hard, patterns that are completely unforgiving of mistakes. I hate when I misplace one little stitch and I have to rip back to fix it! So mostly, colorwory is my nemesis.

  • peplums / pepla / pepli should scare everybody.

  • Bleh. Why bother. I like hard, but if I’m going to put in all that effort, it should be comparably beautiful. Sometimes hard just isn’t worth it.

  • Now *that’s* a sweater!!!
    The most difficult pattern I have ever come across is the Princess Shawl by Sharon Miller. Twelve pattern pages, 3 chart pages, all knit in cobweb. Infreakingsane but absolutely beautiful.

  • One of the scariest things about that pattern is the fact that I didn’t understand all the words you used. I had to look up peplum. I feel all educated now–I even know the plural now!
    I agree with whoever said Eunny could knit it backwards while wearing high heels.

  • Intarsia in cotton is hard. I agree that boring is not fun, etc. but try that Fassett sweater in cottons, and I bet you will lose your mind.

  • Mostly I look at patterns and ask myself, “How much presence of mind does this require?” Lately if the answer is “None. None more black” I proceed with confidence. What are schnickeys?

  • Losing my job won’t be enough, let’s get tortured! Your list at the end is more than enough to scare me off;) But who was it who said: If the end result is desired enough….

  • Peplums, gores, gussets, intarsia, steeks – Jeesh!!! What makes it FUN? Or DESIRABLE? Or SATISFYING? That’s the great part of knitting!
    We all get to choose what we’d like to make for whatever reason. If I want challenging, I could take up physics in my spare time – PhD anyone?

  • Watch out — Wendy might take you up on that challenge once she’s done with those miters she’s cooking up! (big grin)

  • I was wondering where all that traffic was coming from on my blog. Now I know. I just posted a swatch of ‘it’. It’s in the queue, but it will not be knitted anytime soon.

  • Must be that CGI thing they do in the movies…yeah, that’s the ticket! They’re playing with our minds I tell you, EEK! Lordy, my fingers are cramping up just imagining it, lolololol!

  • Knitting should be FUN, and I doubt whether even the Starmores would have fun with that pattern.
    And intarsia sucks (IMHO)

  • Wow! Lace is something I always thought I wanted to learn, but every time I’ve tried, I’ve frogged. The reason? I don’t like to think about knitting while I’m knitting. In fact, I prefer slogging along on plain ol’ stockinette, in the round, so all I have to do is knit knit knit knit knit knit knit knit knit… I’ll try more difficut things here and there, like shaping and cables and ribs and even really easy fair-isle, but I still love me some plain stockinette!

  • Hardest thing I’ve ever made was the Kaffe Fassett Foolish Virgins sweater–over 40 bobbins in some rows and no two rows alike. My first, last, only, ever, never again intarsia! But, I love the finished object and wear it often. I knit it because the tapestries that inspired him are my favorite textiles in the world. That said the Starmore looks worse–and not even wearable except as a costume.
    Hard thing I won’t attempt–socks. I HATE small tubes. Hey, we each have our own definition of “hard”.

  • There’s hard and then there’s just plain silly. There has to have been a better way to design that Tudor Roses sweater. I feel like Alice was showing off a little, but it backfired. What’s the point of a sweater that is so complicated no one will ever make it? To me, genious is streamlining something complex into elegant simplicity. I will take Kilronin any day. It looks complex, but it makes perfect sense when you knit it.

  • Just from your DESCRIPTION of that pattern I could come close to stabbing myself with a needle! My husband once asked why I make the same sweater over and over (I don’t really) and I had to explain that it’s supposed to be RELAXING…challenges have their place, but it’s not generally while watching TV, just before bed.

  • If I want the finished product badly enough, I’ll attempt a project that’s “hard” and learn the tricks and techniques along the way. I’ve just finished one sleeve of the Laura Chau Serrano lace cardigan on Knitty. For me, it’s hard because it’s my first attempt at lace and on size 2 needles. I’ve done a lot of tinking along the way. I’m sure others would consider it a piece of cake, though. For me the equation would be “Desire for finished product” > “difficulty of pattern” = attempt at something “hard”.

  • Amazing. I join the crowd of saying knitting is relaxing fo rme. That is Waaaaay tooo ooo hard- cannot even begin to understand it, nor do I want to. I am thankful some of you can.
    Back to simple log cabins and patchwork squares- the grandkids like the blankets they end up being.

  • The hardest knitting pattern I’ve ever seen? Hmmmm…the wedding ring shawl? I’ve not actually ever seen that pattern, but the picture of the FO along is enough to make this little knitter’s heart skip a beat. Then again, there’s a cabled sweater in “No Sheep For You” that has about a gazillion charts in it, and it looks pretty intimidating to me. I think it’s all about context though – the context of the pattern, the fabulousness of the finished product, the yarn, and, of course, the knitter’s (perceived) ability and experience. Good question though!

  • I think those patterns are for someone who doesn’t own a television, and REALLY loves a challenge! ;-D

  • I’ve always found that pattern oddly compelling. I did a lot of Googling a few months ago to try to find evidence that anyone had ever knit it but couldn’t turn up anything.

  • I think it’s the peplum that made my hands start shaking. Gin, please!

  • Lordy Lord! It’s enough that I’m trying to adapt a damask design to a Fair Isle vest for my wedding. A sweater like that will never ever be in my list of projects.

  • I just spent AGES searching for a picture of the Fair Isle Short Row sweater that Heather G. mentioned. To save everyone else the truuble, here’s a link: http://mellowtrouble.net/2005/05/04/review-of-loop-d-loop?imagenum=15
    While we’re talking about scary sweaters, how about the Weeping Sun/Moon sweater in Meg Swansen’s Knitting. Six pages of charts, people!

  • So far, my hardest is the scribble lace scarf because I picked one icky nylon yarn.
    Happy Slogging Ann, I know you can do it!!

  • So, what’s with the Pebbles, Ann? Are you working on that in your spare time?
    I’ve noticed that lately I have made plain, simple things. I’m feeling challenged by socks with a 4-row texture pattern. I used to knit all sorts of things, with texture and colour and cables and things, but now, no. Huh.

  • What on earth is a peplum (pl. pepli)??? I want to know, but I don’t want to knit that sweater.

  • I realize this is a sort of hubris but when anyone cries “This is hard!” my reaction tends to be “Why? What’s the worst part?”.
    I’m sure that if the steps are taken one at a time, there are resources and patience enough to take on any task.

  • Call me crazy, but when I first started knitting I chose Annabel Fox and Kaffe Fassett sweaters almost exclusively, in fact the more colors the better. Sometimes it took me 20 hours just to weave in the ends, another task I find relaxing. The most difficult piece of knitting for me is miles and miles of stocking stitch in fingering weight. I guess I’m trying to say that it is a matter of personal opinion whether one finds colorwork and numerous details difficult. For me, the love of mixing a multitude of colors together into a beautiful design keeps me coming back for more! Now, if only I could figure out how to design a blog, that, for me, is almost an impossible feat!

  • Not heavily populated, at least as yet, but here’s where some *l*c* St*rm*r* fans seem to be having a fine time. Or not, as the case may be.
    Ms. St*rm*r* has trademarked her name, and she’s famous for having lawyer’s letters sent to those use the name, or even the initials, without a license or other authorization.

  • Ouch.
    I’ve looked at that sweater from hell. I like it.. but knit it? er… NOT.
    And then there’ the Dragon Shawl I recently found on an etsy site. Cool as all getout — but humongous lace chart on which EVERY ROW is different.
    I’m thinking when I’m retired maybe? and otherwise infirm — like if I’ve broken my hips and can’t walk, so I’m confined to a chair or bed all day — and can be guaranteed hours at a stretch with no interruptions… oh, and the TV is broken… and .otherwise, no way.
    Knitting should not be painful!

  • Did Kaffe have a fit while he was designing this sweater! Holy guacamole! Well, at least it won’t get boring knitting it, with 0 pattern repeats… 😉

  • Wendy has also mentioned this for lace- http://www.heirloom-knitting.co.uk/projects16.html
    ummmmmm- yeah- I knit but I’m not insane- I’d pay the money and buy a finished one. Even the easy patterns on this site scrae me silly- so here’s a new question- What do you consider harder- insane color or insane lace?

  • Great! Do you know that I just bought a copy of tudor roses???? Now I must do that sweater!!!! Enabler!!!
    P.S. I say go for it no matter what. If it doesn’t work, what have you really lost? You’ve probably learned something in the process too.

  • There used to be a pattern advertised in the back of knitting magazines called Cables from Hell, which always looked pretty challenging! Also, Lucy Neatby’s Cables After Whisky (sounds like more fun, at least).

  • You caught me off guard with the picture of a cup of Dutch Brothers coffee. Great Stuff! They started here in Southern Oregon not all that long ago and now it seems they’re trying to give Starbucks a run. They’re everywhere along the I-5 corridor. Hope you enjoyed Oregon.

  • I once saw some baby and kids clothing knit by Dale of Norway at a trunk show, that convinced me that if I ever did knit it, I would frame it. There is no way I would put it on a baby after all that colorwork!

  • Girlfriend! Not for all the tea in Alabama (and I love me some sweet tea).

  • I’ve always wanted to make that jacket. I’ll change the colorways to pale sea-greens and blues because the look of the garment somehow reminds me of a mermaid, and I think I’ll make that peplum taper down to a point at the back to suggest the mermaid’s tail. .

  • Based on that Kaffe’s Pebbles pattern I have decided the man is a sadist. Why mess with 13 different shades of yarn when one could easily purchase 13 skeins of a variegated one in an appropriate colorway? Sheesh. Do I have to do all the thinking around here? 🙂
    Having said that, I yearn to knit a Kaffe sweater from his Glorious Knits book someday. It’s composed of about a gazillion little 1″ squares done in intarsia. Someday…

  • Come to think of it, a further comment. It’t true: only what is boring is hard. A garter-stitch washcloth is what the Devil makes you knit in hell. Garter-stitch anything, really (miters excepted).

  • Hard knitting to me is a project you dislike or feel pressured to finish — if I loved something I think I’d manage to press on. However, I can probably only say this because, so far, I haven’t loved anything too complex (I love the plain and simple even if that can make for lots of mindless knitting — which, now that I think of it, I also like).

  • I’ve knitted a few Kaffe Fasset jackets and lots of Intarsia stuff (I love it), I’ve done angora cables and teeny weeny toys, but the most difficult thing I have ever knitted is the Scribble scarf from your book! Honestly, the thing keeps pinging off the needles, stitches disappear and it keeps on frogging itself. It is the very devil itself and is driving me insane! Give me 35 colours on the needles at one time any day!

  • The high school aged daughter of a friend knit this sweater out of Harrisville Shetland. It is beautiful.

  • GO Dutch Brothers!!!!!!!

  • *shudder* The Pebbles is enough of a challenge for me. After your kind polling of the MD readers, I had determined to make it a pillowcase for Laura. Then I went to Laura’s house, sat on her blue and yellow sofa and realized that I must actually finish the jacket or there would be major clashing. What’s a girl to do? I took a 2-color stranding class at the LYS! Promise a full report when actual progress is made.

  • Althea Merback has made a Katherine Howard. No photo online anymore, but the internet archive has a record of her miniature version (1:12 scale) – http://tinyurl.com/ysq37b and her full size gloves – http://tinyurl.com/2hkead

  • I was reading your description of the Starmore’s pattern and thinking, “That sounds like a fun challenge.” Drooling over the picture. However, I think I’m somewhat lacking in skills at this time to attempt it. I am making socks with 3 charts (one that needs layering on the other two) and a 68 row pattern right now. That’s the easier of two sock patterns I purchased from Cookie A.
    I have an Alice Starmore pattern in my pattern stash that I think I’d tackle first – just to see if I was completely nuts.

  • That’s funny, I have been watching “The Tudors” on Showtime and got out my “Tudor Roses” book to look at the timeline that I knew was in there. I was looking at that jacket and wondering if I could size it up to fit me. Might be too much work, and I already bought yarn for Liz I, so I guess I should do that first. I think almost everything in that book is beautiful, and would love to knit all of it, if I could afford it!

  • As an ambitious teenager I attempted that Kaffe pattern- I bought it as an Ehrman kit (years and years and years ago they did knitting kits as well as needlepoint) I think he’s used that stitch/colour pattern on a few items over the years.
    Needless to say it completely defeated me (although I did manage to complete two sleeves. Vastly different sizes, but essentially they were completed- as in, cast on, knitted and cast off when instructed in the pattern) and has given me a lingering fear of colour work.
    There is a positive side to it though- my mum has taken it on, frogged the lot, and is knitting a triangular shawl (hmmm, JPDS?) by gleefully ignoring Kaffe’s chart, but basically doing the same kind of colouwork patches. It’s looking pretty good too.

  • What an incredible pattern! The 32 bobbins give me pause, but why not? My inner masochist is drooling!

  • Believe it or not, I DO know someone who has knit that and finished it. Sorry to be coming so late to the party but I’ve been in Cambodia (good excuse I think). It is someone I worked with two years ago, and yes, she was a glutton for punishment. And get this, she knit it out of a cotton-silk blend yarn (for extra punishment? I don’t know). She was finishing it when I met her so I couldnt say how long it took.
    She has no blog and seemed oblivious to the online knitting world. Also she has now moved on to another job. However, Nathania was a witness to the sweater so I do have I blogland witness. Anyway, so yes, it can be done, it has been done…

  • I mean she knit the Starmore one not the Kaffe. Though she had some impressive Kaffe sweaters too.

  • I adore that design, I bought the book for it. The kicker for me with it is that I would need to size it up, and until recently I haven’t felt up to the challenge… though I’m thinking it may be in the stars for me now.
    This is a cool question to ask… I’ll be interested to see what sort of discussion it spawns. 🙂

  • Sweet fancy Moses! As someone who has never attempted Fair Isle, intarsia, or lace, let alone anything more complex than those three, I shudder to think of attempting such a project. Only in my worst nightmares!
    Just got your book–love it! Now there are some projects I can tackle. On to the yarn shop!

  • Went looking for ‘Tudor Roses’ and found the wretched thing is out of print! At least, Amazon has it available but only for a small fortune…
    So it is back to simple knitting for me, at least until I’m ready to return to the Fair Isle sock I’m inventing. Finished the first foot only to discover that it is too long! To frog or not to frog, that is the question :/

  • I’m going to make the Katherine Howard, if I can find the book for less than the current $140 or buy a kit or something. Just think of all the money I will save on yarn: you buy stuff for one project and it keeps you busy for the rest of your life!
    Why on Earth are Starmore’s books so damn expensive???

  • Oh Ann,
    Pebbles isn’t hard – there is a very, very long repeat, but the best thing is that you use 2 strands of yarn together – 5mm needles!
    (Not that I am making progress, but that is why I am joining the slog-along, no?)