Emerging from the Dark (with a Sweater)


I spent most of the latter half of December sick, under the weather, under the covers, in bed or on the couch.  The too busyness of life was forcibly released from my tightly clutched hands.  

The small clues of too busy, too much, that I wasn't heeding, finally got too loud to ignore.  

A high temperature and no energy are hard to argue with.  I finally had to listen.  To slow down, to rest, to cull, to do only the basics.  It's taken far longer than I would have liked to get better, but it's given me some good time for reflection, and for simple pleasures.

I've taken time to knit just for fun, which was the only reason I used to ever knit.

I started a sweater the weekend before Christmas and I finished it yesterday, the final day of 2013.  I made a sweater just for the joy of it.  When you work with yarn and patterns, it's easy for all knitting to start to become work related.  So what a pleasure to play with yarn and create something original, custom, one of a kind and useful....and even lovely.


I pulled out my notes from October 2012, when I lounged in Central Italy and listened to Gudrun Johnston's Scottish scented instruction about creating a sweater using a Simultaneous Set-In Sleeve method.  I followed along, but once home I tucked those notes away and have only thought back to them on occasion, working up a little baby sweater and not much else. Now that Gudrun is coming to Cordova to teach this same wonderful workshop.  I felt inspired to see if I could make myself a sweater from the loose recipe she had given us.  

I was more methodical than usual, stopping frequently to try the sweater on, to check measurements, to ponder various ways of edging and finishing.  I actually didn't rush through the parts of knitting that I find less enjoyable, I just paused, did something else, took a break and came back to it when I was fresh.  And so I made a sweater from my very own hand-dyed Snow Capped Yarns: Latouche yarn.

It was refreshing to make something purely for pleasure, for learning, to challenge myself.

And to see how much I am called to knit, in those simple moments of building back from nothing, knitting was one of the first things I reached for.

What a pleasure and indulgence to turn ideas and yarn into something wearable.

snow capped sweater simultaneous set in sleeves.jpg

One thing I thought of regularly during this process is how knitting, even an original pattern, is really a amalgamation.  As I said, I used the Simultaneous Set-In Sleeve technique that I was taught by Gudrun Johnston, but she did not invent it but rather had learned it herself in a knitting book (forgive me that I can't remember the source.)  And I chose a tulip bud edging that caught my eye in Barbara Walker's Stitch Dictionary, but I had seen it before in the Cedar Leaf Shawlette from Alana Dakos.  I pulled out Alana's pattern to use her instructions for attaching the edging to a live edge rather than grafting it on after a cast-off.  And for many of the measurements I took I'm sure I was drawing from lessons learned from Ysolda Teague and her Your Perfect Sweater class that I took through Squam...and I consulted a handful of resources from my bookshelf and previously knit sweaters, never mind all the information that is passed from friend to friend in yarn shops and on craft nights.  Creations may be original but they are always drawing from swapped ideas and a long lineage of traditional techniques.

finished sweater-snow-capped-yarns.jpg

So I'm happy to be coming back to the light.  

I miss being outside and being surrounded by the natural beauty of Cordova (when it isn't raining sideways)  But I have enjoyed my enforced retreat and hibernation as well, in its own way.

So here's to all of us in 2014!  I wish you a Happy New Year and if you need some of what I need then I share with you these wishes:

May the year be a little slower, a little more joyful and brimming with inspiration, creativity and adventure!