Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Boreal, a success


Boreal! You evocative, lovely thing. This pattern is so gorgeous. I have visions of snow-covered pine boughs, something out of Narnia. I can't believe it worked, and right out of the gate, too, with no do-overs or unraveling required. I never should have doubted. As you know, I really didn't know how this would go, and that's because the pattern calls for aran weight yarn, at a gauge of either 4 stitches/inch or 4.5 stitches/inch, and I wanted to use worsted weight yarn, at a gauge of 5 stitches/inch, and there really wasn't a size option to accommodate that. So there's math to be done right there, and it was all further complicated by the fact that every time I measured my progress, I was getting anywhere from 4.5 to 5.5 stitches/inch. Also, other knitters have reported that their sleeves were too narrow, and my sleeves were just right, so did that mean my yoke was going to be gigantic? I wasn't even close on row gauge, and I knew it. Then there's the fact that prior to blocking, stranded colorwork always looks like a crumpled-up newspaper left out in the rain and then stepped on. You just have to cross your fingers and keep going. So I did.


It is really just about exactly perfect. Well, gauge. Here's the thing--as with my last Kate sweater, I went in knowing I was not getting anything near the recommended gauge, but I could still use the gauge information given to get a good-fitting garment. I knew the distance around myself, I knew how many stitches I was getting per inch (well, I almost knew that--it kept drifting around, as I said) and doing a little math told me I should make the largest size. Even that, though, was going to potentially be a little too small for me, and there wasn't any wiggle room, because the large motifs in the colorwork design meant I couldn't just add or subtract a few stitches here and there to make any size adjustments. I thought it might maybe work, but really, I didn't know, and I just had to dive in and trust.

I dove. I wrung my hands. I knit like the wind, trying to outrun any misgivings. I measured a lot, and was both reassured and convinced of imminent disaster.

Despite all my whining and worrying, I have to admit that I have learned a few things about knitting over the years, which has led me through this gauge-related minefield, and which helped me get a great outcome. This sweater fits me because I measured, measured, and measured again, and used the data to tell me how to proceed. I'm still learning to trust what I know, but people? This is how to get stuff to fit you. Swatch, measure honestly, and do the simple multiplication.


The long floats at the back are a mess. I don't even want to show you. I'm not showing you. Just imagine a twisted nest of yarn that looks like your hair looks after you ride around in a convertible for awhile. Having to tack down the strand not in use across the large areas of color every six/seven/eight stitches across the back made me run the risk that the contrast color will peek through, especially where there is negative ease (i.e. the sleeves), and it does peek through a little. I have decided not to let it bug me.


Success! This feels like money in the bank. There's no way to wear this double-thick, snuggly pullover and not be cozy, cozy, cozy. And now, it is going to be 85 degrees for the next week. Of course. In two months, Boreal will be in heavy wardrobe rotation as winter begins to bear down on us, but at this moment, it is hot. You can probably hear me sweating. I'm taking it off now, and going to the beach.