Thursday, November 04, 2010

Not an Old Dog Yet!

Thanks to India for submitting this guest post!

It was inevitable that I would knit the Cloisonné Jacket in the Fall 2010 issue of Interweave Knits.

I liked it the first time I flipped through the magazine. When I looked at it again, I realized that the sweater combines two of my favorite techniques—lace and stranded colorwork; one of my favorite constructions—body knit in one piece; and one of my absolute favorite yarns—Berroco Ultra Alpaca. And so I did something I don’t usually do: rather than adding this project to my (very long) list of things I’d like to make someday, I immediately put aside all my other WIPs, trundled down to Kaleidoscope to buy the yarn, swatched, and cast on.

Color choice was a bit of a challenge. I didn’t want to use the colors shown in the magazine, but it took some doing to come up with a combination I liked. In the end, with Shawn’s help, I chose a deep avocado green solid for the lace portion, and a heathery maroon for the main color. These colors work well with many of the shirts or turtlenecks I will wear under the sweater, and of course with jeans, my usual pants of choice.

I am a yarn thrower from way back. Nevertheless, a number of years ago I taught myself to carry a color in each hand when working stranded colorwork, my left hand chugging along in a vaguely continental style but actually awkwardly throwing the yarn in a dim mirror image of my right hand. However, this time I wanted to do better. And so, in the interest of doing it “right,” (and blazing new neural pathways—good for the aging brain!), I practiced picking the yarn with my right-hand needle on the knit rows. However, the cardigan is worked flat, so half the colorwork rows are on the purl side! With much effort, and several viewings of instructional videos on YouTube, I eventually developed a more-than-passable continental purling motion.

Once the colorwork section was complete, I decided to further practice my new skills, and so I completed the plain stockinette sections, sleeves (including the lace cuffs!), collar, and facings working exclusively in the continental style.

I also made a Baby Surprise Jacket out of Regia Stretch Sock Yarn for my newest nephew and worked that project in the continental style as well. And though I can’t perform the motions by feel only, as I can when I throw the yarn right-handed, nevertheless I’ve gained speed, confidence, and dexterity, both knitting and purling. I’m pleased to be ambiknitsterous, though I expect it will be a while before I knit ribbing or fine lace using the continental style. But I’m proud of myself for learning a new skill.

And, I love my new cardigan*!

*Carefully verify the math when dividing for fronts and back and check against your stitches! I found a couple of mistakes in the directions here for size 42. There’s also a mistake in the sleeve section; see here for corrections.


Claudine said...

Just beautiful!

Lori said...

I bought the same issue of Interweave Knits specifically for that sweater (though there are lots of other lovely things in there). I have the same trouble you did, but in reverse: throwing is hard (ok, almost impossible) for me, while my Continental technique is great. After the Christmas knitting rush I hope to tackle this gorgeous sweater and get my ambiknitsterous abilities under control.