Summer Musings And A New Sweater

I’ve been a neglectful blog owner these last few months, but I’m here to remedy that. Our summer of rafting and general outdoor guided adventuring has finally wound down. We still have a few more trips to go, but the energy is slower and more manageable. I knit throughout the summer, and tried in earnest to do at least a row or two every day, but there were quite a few days where it was all I could do to get home and collapse into bed. I truly enjoy the adrenaline that accompanies a busy summer. I like the logistical challenge each day brings, and working outdoors in a physical capacity is something I really enjoy. It was a tough summer for me physically, however. Guiding is a difficult job in that regard. I’m closing in on 27 but using my body for work in such a strenuous way each day makes me feel a lot creakier than what I assume is normal for a Millennial . There’s a whole lot of knee and back cracking going on at the end of the day. It’s incredibly demanding work but it always has an expiration date. I push my body to it’s physical exhaustion limit understanding that once Labor Day hits there will be rest.

This summer I added a wrench into the mix and sprained my knee early on. It took about six weeks of time to be able to walk on it, during which I wasn’t guiding. I still worked full time, but I did a lot of office work and directed traffic. My knee still isn’t 100%, but it is certainly better. I tried very hard to be patient, but it’s difficult for me not to view my body as my greatest asset–especially when it also is my main means of making money. I’ve always valued my own personal strength and physical ability as much as (sometimes if not more than)  my mental ability. I like being physically independent and capable–which may or may not have something to do with working primarily with men but that’s a whoooooolllllleeeee different story for another time.  I had a really hard time being less mobile and less able. Luckily, my sisters were around to keep me giggling despite my grumpy “woe is me” attitude. It was a great summer, but it was also long and pretty challenging for me in a lot of regards. Fall feels like a  fresh start and a (very literal) step forward. I’ve been able to settle down a bit, take a breath, make some plans, and of course, get friendly with some wool. I don’t feel fully rested yet, but like I’m plugged in and my batteries are currently in recharge mode. And knitting is certainly helping facilitate that.

If you follow me on Instagram, I’ve posted about my Improv sweater from the Fringe and Friends Knit Along that Karen of Fringe Association is running.   My sister, Emily, brought me yarn from Chile when she returned, the first time she went. She’s since gone back and forth twice, and is currently living there. On her second return she brought me some more yarn. I struggled to decide what to make and left the yarn alone for years, which is not something I typically do. I’m not a big stasher. I knew I wanted to make sweaters, but would have to stripe it with something else (or use some other concoction) to have enough yardage. Then I got the crazy idea of striping them together. It looked pretty rustic, but it worked and I was gung-ho to give it a whirl.

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If you’re not aware of this particular knit along  (or knit alongs in general) the basic idea behind it is that a whole bunch of knitters knit the same thing and support each other virtually (or in person if you’re lucky). The pattern for this one is no pattern at all! Karen posted a tutorial and kind words of encouragement that helps knitters understand they already have the tools necessary to make themselves a sweater, and that they don’t need a pattern. She gave some super helpful construction and math guidelines, and then set a whole army of knitters to their own devices. I actually used her tutorial once before while Aaron and I were in Guatemala, but it was so damn hot I abandoned the whole thing. I decided on a super basic striped sweater that would have a small amount of positive ease and would ideally use all the yarn I had. Here’s the breakdown:

Yarn–Marled Aran-ish weight 183 grams

Cream Aran-ish (handspun?) 252 grams

Needles–9

Gauge–3.25 stitches per inch

Target size–37 inch bust (actual size 35 still confused about that, gauge is spot on)

Target armhole depth–9 inches (actual is 8)

Target back of neck width–9 inches (actual is 6 after neck treatment)

Target neck depth–3.25 inches (actual is 3.25)

Body length–18 (no target)

Cuffs and hem–Twisted 1×1 ribbing

Body– Stockinette

All my target measurements were based off my Sunny Side Up top because it’s my best fitting garment. I was pretty content using them as basic measurements and seeing where the wind took me. My ultimate goal was to have a wearable sweater that used all the yarn I could, and would ideally be sized well enough to actually wear (i.e. not a crop top). I knew I would be cutting it close yarn wise, so I came to terms with short sleeves if necessary. I increased my neck raglans every second row to end up with a shallow scoop neck, which worked out well. If I did this again, I think I would look at doing short rows in order to shape the neckline.  I like a wide, shallow scoop (almost boat neck) neckline and when I’ve used short rows in patterns, I’ve really liked the look of it. It seems to have a little more subtlety to it than the raglan increase/cast on combo does.

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I couldn’t decide what to do at the neckline and tried a garter neck on for size. I used wool that I dyed with achiote but really didn’t love the look of it. I ended up ripping it out and just doing a super simple rolled neck. I picked up 2/3 of the stitches around the neck and knit one round, then cast off.

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I did end up having to make short sleeves but I actually really love them. I don’t have anything with this silhouette in my wardrobe, and I’ve already worn it twice, which I think speaks to its realized usefulness.

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I really love the sweater, but here’s the thing. True to form, once I noticed the jog in the stripes I trudged ahead with blinders on telling myself I could duplicate stitch it out. Well I’ve duplicate stitched the hell outta this thing and that jog ain’t going anywhere. So if anyone has ANY tips for how to eliminate a jog in stripes after the fact, please give this impatient gal some advice. It’s bothering me for sure, but not yet to the point of ripping back. That’s not to say I won’t, but the day of ripping is not in the imminent future. My heart just can’t take it at the moment.

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I took it out for a test drive, jogs and all,  to the Southern Adirondack Fiber Festival  and it was the perfect sweater for the in-between weather day. It was coincidentally also the perfect sweater to buy yarn and eat donuts in. More on that next time.