scheming and dreaming (with yarn)

Posted on Posted in designing, projects, yarn and dyeing

ok, you guys got me. all that talk about sweater making last week got me thinking. i really DO need some sweaters . . . some of mine are in a shameful state, especially my “everyday” ones. you don’t believe me?

this one shrank in a washing accident two years ago . . . i still wear it. a LOT.
you might not be able to tell from this picture, but it now just barely touches the waistband of my pants, and the sleeves are a less-than-stylish 3/4 length. the neck meanwhile is big enough to fit a watermelon through. but sometimes i just need a change of pace, you know?

i have a sweater on the needles for over a year now—it’s supposed to replace this one—same yarn, neckline, and shape, but a different color. all i need to do is actually knit on it.

then there is my beloved morehouse merino bathrobe cardigan.
it is old. it’s oversized and has lots of texture, but because i knit it with sportweight 2-ply, it is not bulky. i reach for it nearly every day. i only don’t wear it when i am embarrassed to wear it in front of myself again.

(okay, okay, i admit my standards for at-home wear are low. i think the bigger problem is that i am “at home” about 95% of the time now, and my wardrobe reflects that a little too much).

as you can see it is quite shredded at the cuff (it also has a few small holes elsewhere). so shredded in fact that i have to have a special system for wearing it at the computer, where the edge of my keyboard tray snags it if i don’t arrange things just so (it’s just so cozy, though . . .). yes, i know i can reknit this. it’s a matter of motivation . . . and you never know, some day i might do just that.
it looks a little felted there too, probably from kitchen work.

(why is this sounding more and more like my father talking?? . . . oh yeah, his “at home” wear fell along similar lines—worn to within an inch of its life, just the way we like it.)

oh, and there is more.

there is this ancient gray v-neck pullover. it is the perfect lightweight thing to pull on for cool spring and fall days. i’ve worn it at least twice a week for the last 15 or so years.

but you could probably have guessed that on your own.
i have worn this sweater so much that the fabric is literally wearing thin, and little holes are forming where the yarn has simply ghosted away.

look—you can see through it . . . i think it is safe to say that we have gotten our money’s worth from this one.

fast forward to my last post and everyone writing in to say “knit sweaters!!”, “yes i want to see you make sweaters”, and “we want sweaters”.

i think i understand you. you want me to knit sweaters, too.
don’t get me wrong, i am NOT going to stop knitting the lace stuff . . . that is knitting i really like to do. but let’s face it—from the evidence i’ve presented, you can see that the lace things are not serving my clothing needs—i don’t care much for lace sweaters on an every day basis, and as a rule, shawls are not practical for running around the house in (though i do wear them more now than ever).

so i got to thinking (oooh, danger of fire here . . .).

i really can’t start a new sweater this week, but maybe i will have a little window of opportunity later in the month. and if that were to happen, what would i want to make? (you see the treacherous zone i am approaching here, right?).

after i finished my deadline knitting, i decided to treat myself to some stash diving for yarn ideas. now, i am not as stupid as i sound (okay, well maybe i am, but don’t tell me, ok?). i know that the stash closet is a super-danger zone and that i should not go in there when i have other projects and deadlines to finish.

so i decided beforehand what i would look for. i narrowed it down before i even went in. i made a short list of the most pressing sweater projects (we are dreaming here),

  • i definitely need at least a big, new, bathrobe everyday cardigan (big project, but i have the yarn and i have a handwritten pattern for the old one that i could just modify with a new stitch pattern and higher v-neck).
  • i am yearning for a littler cardigan, something i can wear out if i want, but will also not be too fancy that i wouldn’t wear it at home (do-able in DK yarn in a fairly short amount of time, and i know i want it to be red. in fact i’ve been talking about it since last year).
  • and if i don’t replace that lightweight pullover soon, it will disintegrate off my body (possibly a tedious project, in fine yarn on small needles; i have lots of fingering yarn but don’t know which one i’d want to use for it).
  • a nice new turtleneck to wear with slacks when i do leave the house would be lovely (also very do-able in DK or heavy fingering yarn, since i’ve had something all designed in my head now for a couple of years and have my sizing down pretty well for this kind of piece).

and proceeded in to look for yarns i know will fit the bill (full willpower armor on; blinders for backup. you can’t be too careful). remember we are just scheming here.
we are NOT committing. (you can stop laughing any time.)

there is one more caveat to the yarn search. i need more color.
now that my hair is grayer, my skin is older, and i don’t wear makeup hardly at all any more, i need to wear a little more color to avoid looking tired.

the first thing i reached for (well, i had to move a lot of bins out of the way and actually dive in for this one) is the one i always take out and at least drool over while stash-diving.

my italian cashmere, purchased over ten years ago when david and i were biking there. every year i dream about making it into a sweater and every year, just at the brink of swatching, i pause, wondering if that sweater is what i really want to do with this yarn.
when, what i really need to do, is just get on with it already. i do not want to keep all twelve balls of it as trophy yarn. and the design i have in my head for the turtleneck keeps nagging at me to be made with this yarn. for like, 5 years now.

i think it’s safe to say that the idea is sticking. this one is a definite possibility, but not for the first sweater, which i think should be a cardigan.

speaking of which, i think my little red cardigan needs to be first on the list. i know exactly which yarn i have been planning with in my head.

this is a big batch of grandma’s blessing, custom dyed by briar rose that i have been sitting on for a year. it has been earmarked for the cardigan. for a while i waffled about making it into the replacement for the bathrobe morehouse sweater, and i still wonder if i ought to use the red yarn for that. it’s washable, and cheerful, so it might be a good choice for an everyday sweater.
okay, this isn’t really decisive. let’s move on.

i have another choice for a cardigan. this batch i bought last year at the whorehouse morehouse merino shop while were in rhinebeck.

i could make the little cardigan out of this, and save the red for the big cardigan (do you see how stash diving causes dawdling??). this yarn is just to die for—every stitch is a pleasure to knit. and it does NOT pill. even after many years, and machine washing, too, the fabric of my morehouse sweaters continues to be soft and lovely.

but i am torn aobut the big cardigan. i have another special yarn that i am dying to knit with.

handspun, from a lamb named baby spice. it’s DK, and wonderful. the drawback is that it does not have color. but i want it, i want it, i want it. maybe it would be better as a pullover, or a second cardigan, to make later in the year. i also spun some of this into fingering/lace weight, so i have both. but i am hoping to use the lightweight version for a shawl some time.

so now i have to return to my current knitting and think some more on sweaters while i finish up a few things. i am pretty sure the little red or rose cardigan is the one to start with. just have to come up with a definitive design. or maybe the cashmere turtleneck . . .

36 thoughts on “scheming and dreaming (with yarn)

  1. Oh the choices! All would be beautiful, I’m sure. It’s just so hard to decide this time of year, it seems like there are 5-8 sweaters I MUST knit before December, but I can’t ever seem to pin down which one I should start with!

  2. Interesting and funny insight into your decision making process! The well-loved and worn sweaters tour was great too!

  3. Sweaters please. Many sweaters, with lovely texture and perfect drape. Please?

    Your other patterns are just so fabulous, a few more sweaters would be lovely. 🙂

  4. I’m with Kelli. Want to see you do us a sweater pattern – your old and worn ones look lovely, light and warm *enough* without being too worn.

    I think you’d make a sweater pattern that couldn’t be resisted….

  5. Wonderful photos of the old and tired sweaters! Now I’m wondering whether I threw out my old faded red acrylic cardigan (with the damaged button band) too soon. 🙂

  6. yup, in agreement with you, the little red one first. you’ll look smashing in it.
    they are all lovely choices.
    and maybe there will even be a new special knitspot sweater pattern that emerges, right about the time i am able to knit once again (?)

  7. I love the look of a well worn cuff on a favorite sweater. I just do. It makes the sweater so personal. It is like the velveteen rabbit story somehow.

  8. you make me laugh! You are just like the rest of us, too hard to decide which yarn just in case there is a better project! All gorgeous yarn. I would go pink for the little cardigan and grey for the every day cardigan. Grey because of your comments about it, no colour but you love it. Definitely turtleneck with the cashmere. I know fingering weight yarn from the stash and make a sweater on the machine! Just an idea.

  9. i’m beginning to think you’re a bad influence – always starting something new and exciting with such tempting pictures! personally, i vote for you starting with the briar rose, but that may be just because i keep eying a pretty red yarn from briar rose…of course they’re all gorgeous!

  10. Now you’ve done it Anne 😉 You’ve gone and opened up the proverbial knitting can of worms lol! Here, I’ll try to be of any help that I can (what ever that may be lol, since I had a hand in making you lean toward sweater knitting too). I say knit the little cardi first, and do it in the sweet shade of rose. Can’t go wrong with that one, and the red would be wonderful for your longer cardi around the house. Turtleneck should be gray for sure, and you’ll probably change your mind a hundred times before you settle it right? I always do LOL!

  11. I really look forward to watching a sweater emerge from your head. 🙂

    It was great to see you yesterday– I wish I’d had more of an opportunity to visit. Isn’t it better without the nasty carpet? the rest will go before fall gets too far underway.

  12. Ann, I can’t wait. Sweaters are so the FIRST thing I get excited about when I see a pattern and the LAST thing off my needles. Sigh. Still, I’d love to see what I call the “no sweater sweater” from you, you, you. A NSS has a front, back and sleeves, but it kind of hangs on the wearer, really comfy, no buttons. You just sort of grab and cross the fronts together if you are cold for a minute. It hangs beautifully and is soft and stretchy and casual as this wearer. It’s in the MOST gorgeous yarn and color that just begs to be put on. Am I coming in on any wave length??? Love, Tif

  13. Your sweaters look so much like my favorite PJ’s, I shamelessly wear them at home all the time (bad us home workers), just last week I had to separate from my best one, they just fell apart.

    Oh my, The Cashmere for sure and it is waiting too long for its right pattern. It reminds me of a magnificent Valentino yarn I bought once in Rome and it was red too! but mine was knitted the following winter, it was a lovely sweater until something bad happened to it.

  14. Except for how you actually get things made, that’s exactly how my stash diving attempts go. Only with more choices coming up because my blinders don’t work so good. I agree that the cashmere has been waiting an awfully long time. But I can see the need for the cardigan first so I’m interested to see how you resolve this dilemma.

  15. Ah, the yarn room: like a playground for the creative mind! I always go in with the best intentions and come out with too many choices, as well 🙂

    Show your love for the Italian cashmere and the Briar Rose red. They would both look fantastic on you!

  16. With that last gray yarn, get a spool or two of a vivid thread to add in. Using thread would give you a lot of color options without adding bulk. My 2 cents,

  17. Lovely, lovely! Both shades of red are smashing and will make beautiful cardigans. You could knit the darker one now and save the rosier shade for a spring sweater. The cashmere is for your turtleneck — divine. And the pretty grey could make a vest or v-neck cardigan where you could show color in your shirt or turtleneck underneath. Can’t wait to see what develops!

  18. It’s clear to see that your old sweaters were truly loved ! I realy find it touching to see that you can’t part from them 🙂
    The italian cashmere sure is great for a turtleneck, so lovely to snuggle up in it ! Pink would be my choice for short, cause that would look hip and sassy! And the red is so pretty, love to see this in a longer cardi. So that is just what you already thought out isn’t it ?

  19. Why is it, that you need to only start one sweater? Why not start a couple or three? Then that tedious choosing will also disapear and you will have the full pleasure of total sweater indulgence 😉

  20. Even in its worn-out state, your “bathrobe” is beautiful. I love the bit of neck shaping that peeks out of the photo.

    I have the same problems you do–gray hair, changed skin tones, and a dislike of makeup. But you can always wear something bright under the gray yarn, so I’d say “go for it”. Of course, the red is beautiful too.

    The only way I’ve managed to keep my focus this year (and I’m not sure I’ve done such a great job of it) is to have only two projects going at a time. And so my mental planning of what sweater to knit next mirrors your description in this post.

    I’ve even put off starting Bee Fields until one sweater WIP is done–how’s that for restraint?

  21. *giggling*

    The Grandma’s Blessing has my vote.

    And I wish you WOULD design a lace cardigan or pullover – just think of it as a shawl where the ens won’t trail.

  22. Hey, whatever happened to that red Malabrigo sweater?

    When a commenter above (karen, I think) mentioned sweaters emerging from your head, I couldn’t help picture miniature garments popping out of your forehead like Athena bursting forth from the skull of Zeus. Ouch.

  23. It has to be the red Briar Rose. That’s some of the prettiest yarn I’ve seen recently. Go on, you know you want to. 🙂

    As for the lovely grey Baby Spice yarn… how do you feel about a little stranded colorwork on the yoke? I know you’re a texture gal, but a bit of gorgeous autumnal color close to your face would be really striking…

  24. I also vote for the red Briar Rose as a first sweater.
    and while you are working on that, let your mind go crazy with deciding what color to dye the Baby Spice yarn to get a little color for a sweater number two or three.

  25. Oh, I have sweaters with cuffs like your Morehouse, and little holes like your pullover, too. I just can’t part with them, though I can hardly wear them anymore. (Can’t be wearing holey sweaters in my yarn shop – not a good advertisement.)

    And I think either the red or the rose for the first sweater. Though the thought of a cashmere turtleneck is making me drool . . .

  26. Your Italian cashmere is about the same age as my red cashmere/merino. That red yarn desperately wants to be a twinset, but that’s as far as it’s gotten. Even after 10 years. Some yarns just take a while to make up their minds. It’ll be fun to see what you come up with for all the yarns you shared today. 🙂

  27. lots of lovely choices there, i especially love the term *trophy yarn*. sometimes, it’s just so lovely as is … and what *if* we don’t like the finished product as much ?!
    regarding color, i know what you mean about the hair getting grayer. i don’t wear make up, except for lipstick or a lip tint.
    this makes me feel very “steel magnolias”, but i always say, “you can wear whatever color you like as long as you wear good lipstick !”
    ps. i finished the man-lace.
    i just need to take pictures.
    i want to keep it for myself. (corbett is on to me)
    it will be shipped up north soon ….

  28. I know what you mean about the cashmere, and I’m trying to do the “just knit with it!” thing too. The Briar Rose reds are lovely. The handspun — you could overdye it or have it overdyed. I’m sure you could strike up a deal with one of your favorite dyeing friends to do something special with it.

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