Knitting

Color & Texture: Choices, choices, choices

Made in Holland – A Wall of Yarn at Stephen & Penelope, Amsterdam, August 20, 2018

Among those that acquire ever increasing amounts of yarn, almost as harbingers of some soon-to-occur cataclysmic event in which there ceases to be sheep or wool or yarn, I am on the low-end of the quantity spectrum.  This may be due in part to the storage limitations of our small house or the practicality of my Swiss heritage, but I have only once purchased a sweater’s quantity of yarn without a specific pattern or project in mind.  And, I offer my Foxtrot (my first 4-Day Knit Along (KAL) with Marie Greene) as exonerating proof that I have since turned an impulse buy of approximately 1,400 yards of blended alpaca, merino, and silk into a very wearable sweater.

Early in my knitting days, most of my purchases were simply experiential.  I would visit a yarn store and go home with those skeins that had called out, like a sensory siren, to be touched.  The frustration came later when I found the perfect pattern but had an insufficient quantity and could not match the dye lot when I needed to purchase more.  I started to take a more strategic approach by identifying a potential project and then buying to the designer’s specifications.  There are exceptions – of course – as I always treat myself to a skein of something local when traveling.  That is how I came to get advice from Stephen West as I stood somewhat befuddled before a wall of “Made in Holland” color on our jet lagged first day in Amsterdam. 

I am intrigued by how designers and dyers market their products especially to online customers.  Much of what I know about marketing was not learned in a library school admin class but rather as a fan of Mad Men where Don Draper’s genius took a product (any product), identified an audience, created a demand, and always made his ad agency loads of profit.  I can only hope two of my favorite sellers are as successful

  • frabjous fibers & Wonderland Yarns offers the De-STITCH-nation Yarn Kit of the Month Club which features an exclusive colorway based on a travel poster from an earlier era, as well as a pattern appropriate for the weight and quantity, a post card replica of the featured destination poster and steamer trunk stickers.  Rather than simply commit to a new skein every month (although that would be fun!) I exhibit restraint and limit my purchases to those locations I have visited.  Thus far:  Amsterdam, Egypt, Germany, London, and Zurich.
  • Kristen in Stitches showcases the creative designs of Kristen Ashbaugh-Helmreich.  During 2020, her National Park Hat subscription allowed my COVID quarantined brain to remember the beauty of the parks we’ve explored and dream about parks we have yet to visit.

Knitting

Three to Get Ready

While my Ravelry project page certainly records sweaters, specifically nine before 2020, sweaters were not my go-to knitting project.  The amount of work and time required coupled with horror tales of projects gone wrong with elephantine results kept me working on lots of shawls and scarves.  Items where gauge and size were less crucial.  Then I found Marie Greene and her 4-day sweater challenge.  Admittedly, my Foxtrot took over two months to complete but I was so pleased with the results that I selected another of Marie’s patterns, Houghton, to knit a sweater for Mom using a lush English merino-mohair blend.  Then, thinking ahead to fall travels (in pre-Covid times) I knit the same cardigan for myself using the same yarn in the same color and even the same buttons.  This became the first of my 2020 sweaters.  Soundtrack, another 4-day challenge completed in 22-days, was sweater #2.

Now, just off the needles and the blocking squares is Happy Hour.  Designed around the pre-Covid memory of outings with friends for happy hour, the sweater includes a colorwork yoke with a 3 PM, 4 PM or 5 PM pattern repeat, as well as a fanciful repeat on each sleeve.  I opted for three pattern repeat with a nod to an early toast at the end of the work day.

In this very strange year when daily wear is almost exclusively comfy casual clothes with only an infrequent ZOOM meeting to show off three new sweaters I have transformed 4,397 yards into three sweaters all within 41 weeks.  My far flung Knit Camp buddies have offered encouragement and instruction making it all happen, as well as another 18 smaller projects for family, friends, and fundraising service auctions.  Happy knitting!