Pattern: Irish Coffee (rav link) by Thea Colman
Yarn: Dream In Color Classy (100% superwash merino), colorway Nightwatch
Needles: U.S. 8 Harmony wood Options 40″ circulars (magic loop style)
Christmas is a time to say I love you, as Billy Squier reminds us every year. Knitters say I love you with little accessory projects like the ones I blogged about two months ago. And then, at least in my case, we say I love myself with big satisfying garment projects.
Like this top-down cabled tunic vest. It’s not the biggest project; it used under 1000 yards of yarn. That’s why I chose this pattern. I had 1000 yards of yarn that was the yarn I wanted to use, and I wanted to make something in the sweater category, but that’s not enough to make most sweaters for a gal of my size. I was sweating as I approached the end of whether I’d had enough to finish even this, but I finished with maybe 100 yards to spare; not really close.
A sweater of any kind can’t be too relaxing; you’ve usually got multiple counts going on as you do raglan increases and measure the depth of the front notch and ribbing and set up for cables and do waist shaping and all that, at the same time or in rapid succession. (My awesome Sirka counter, a Christmas gift from Noel, made it easy.) But I upped the challenge for myself even further by alternating skeins of this hand-dyed yarn. First time I’ve done that; I used the technique (and placement) for switching from this video. My switch point was right before (thus, working top-down, to the right side of) the front cable panel. I didn’t bother switching until I got to that point, since pooling (if it were to occur) would be noticeable mostly in stockinette. It turned out to be easy and effective.
The other thing that gave me a few moments of anxiety was the fit with superwash yarn. You hear a lot from knitters about their superwash garments “growing” (because the yarn slides through stitches freely and doesn’t cling to itself, having been treated to remove the scales from the fiber) during wear, or in the wash. After I finished knitting, I took a deep breath and machine washed this on cold, then tumbled it to a damp-dry condition before blocking. Perfection. I had notice in my swatch (which I treated the same way) that washing worked like magic to smooth the fabric, rendering the stitches so even you’d swear it was done by machine. The professional look after washing was striking. Here it is just off the needles (with CG gesturing as she explains what she likes about it):
And here it is blocking:
I’ve worn it a dozen times, and it holds its shape perfectly and looks (dare I say it) smashing.
Sometimes what you start doesn’t turn out to be what you need. More often than I deserve, I get exactly the boost I’m looking for from the knits I finish. I love the way they make me look and feel. I take pride in being able to clothe myself, to flash some style beyond the bare minimum I default to in my infrequent shopping trips. Thanks to an irresistible yarn and the perfect pattern, the time I invested here was transformed into pure joy.