There are so many fabulous knitting patterns out there, it is impossible to choose just one! I’ve been knitting several projects just at a time when my knitting has slowed to a crawl. I may have mentioned my neck injury a few times—it is finally really improving, thanks to the miracle of acupuncture. However, strangely, as my neck has gotten better, all of the tension I was carrying in my shoulders and arms, (perhaps I was holding them tight to stop my neck from hurting?) has become much worse. It is a healing progression that will resolve itself, but for now I have resolved to blog, knit, and participate on Ravelry at a slower pace, as a hand injury is the last thing any of us wishes for. So I am back to my heirloom knitting approach, investing my limited creative time in the projects I love the most!
La Boheme by Marie Wallin
This is the most intricate fairisle design I have ever attempted to knit. But it is amazing to see the baroque curlicues take shape from one row to the next! My one frustration with the pattern is that Marie Wallin tends to design very loose garments. The smallest size is about 45 inches around! Each row feels endless as a result. I have spent 3 weeks on this project, but I find it takes me about an hour to knit only three rows. Considering that on average I can knit an entire fair isle cardigan in five weeks, this will show you just how time consuming I am finding La Boheme:
However, I feel it will be worth it in the end. And I am only knitting as much on the project as I enjoy, which does come down to about 3 rows max a day. To create some diminution for the waist without distorting the fair isle design, I am changing down from a size 3 to a size 2 needle, although this means the knitting goes even more slowly.
Silla by Jennie Atkinson
All my hard work on Silla is finally paying off. I have been working on it since October of last year, and I have finally finished the front, back and two sleeves. I used my stash of Rowan 4ply cotton to knit the opaque portion of Silla, and in order to get gauge, I went down to a size 2 needle, and took frequent breaks to avoid getting hand cramps from working with the fine cotton yarn. After knitting about 3 rows, I would switch to a different project, so Silla advanced in microscopic increments.
However, the amount of time I have spent with this heirloom project has been a huge benefit, because I gave myself enough time to think through design details, such as the lovely scalloped border I created along the bottom using a knit two, slip two pattern. This slow pace also allowed me to determine exactly how I wanted the garment to fit into my wardrobe and lifestyle. As a result of these reflections, I changed the sleeves entirely to ensure the garment would be easy to wear.
The pattern designer, Jennie Atkinson, is a phenomenally talented woman, and teaches fashion history on top of designing her exquisite, vintage inspired knits. She often features what I have come to call a “balloon-shaped” sleeve in her lace pullovers. The sleeve is tightly fitted at the wrist with a ribbed cuff, and then you do one row of increases for the entire sleeve which allows you to knit straight to the sleeve cap in the lace. The advantages of this are that you don't need to fuss with increases to accomodate the width of the arm in kidsilk haze yarn while executing an intricate lace pattern. She used a similar sleeve in Connie, a marvelous design from Rowan 50 which I knitted a few years ago:
I truly love that pullover, but I find that the balloon-shape of the sleeve, all in lace, gives it a Victorian aspect which makes it more appropriate for fancy dress than every day wear. As I slowly worked on my Silla, I had plenty of time to reflect on how I wanted those sleeves to be different in order for it to fit into my wardrobe as an “every day knit”. As a result, I was able to start my sleeve with a clear vision, instead of wasting weeks knitting different versions in kidsilk haze, which is almost impossible to unravel. I defy even my kitten, Miro, to make the attempt!
My solution to modernizing the sleeve was to knit it in straight stitch, using 4ply cotton, to match the body of the sweater. The lace section at the sleeve cap should match the lace sections at the neck on the fronts and backs, preserving that beautiful detail of the original design. Next week I will assemble the whole top and add the finishing lacework at the neck, and we will see how it all turns out!
My inspiration for this modified sleeve comes from the pattern, Madame Butterfly, which uses a combination of opaque and sheer portions in the sleeve to match the body of the sweater. However, it did require a lot of fiddling to get a similar effect.
I am hoping devoutly now that I am ready to assemble my Silla that it will be a perfect fit. I did baste the sleeves in several times to the body of the sweater, but you never know for sure how it will end up until it is finally assembled. And you can see, I am not the only one who is attached to this project: