Tuesday, June 13, 2006

I never DENIED being insane.

All right, all right... the sweater I'm considering knitting with size 0/size 1 needles (that would be 2 and 2.25 mm needles for those of you living in Metric Land) is THIS:

The Blue Shimmer, from Bohus Stickning. (Photo from here.)The link also contains a short history, if you're interested. Cool story. They say their patterns are offered for size 1 1/2 (2.5 mm) needles, but it doesn't mention the gauge. You can tell from the photo, though, the larger the gauge, the less subtle the color blending would be, and it'd become a big old mess at anything much bigger than six stitches to the inch (and I'm being generous with that). Currently available kits and patterns that I have found are written for seven stitches to the inch, which I think pushes the gauge out as far as possible without blowing it.

Now. The original Bohus Stickning was run by a lady named Emma Jacobsson, who had very definite ideas of how things should be done, including only the very best in terms of material, workmanship, and design. I agree with her principles and respect her life's work (Bohus turned out an amazing variety of knitwear for thirty years, each design more wonderful than the last.) With that in mind, I don't wanna turn out something that would make her shudder and/or file a lawsuit, if she were still alive. Plus, darn it, I respect my craft and I don't wanna turn out crap for my own sake, either.

"Poems of Color" by Wendy Keele offers a lot of the gory details on how the sweaters were worked (and also a detailed history of Bohus Stickning, with patterns) , and according to her, they were done at nine stitches to the inch. That would produce a fine fabric with plenty of drape, flattering to all figures, and best of all, provide the small increments of color needed for the blended effect on many of their sweaters.

And I'm back to knitting a sweater on size 0 needles.

The hardest part of knitting this sweater would be getting the gauge to match, between the massive stranding going on in the yoke (three colors per row, in some places) and the plain old stockinette in the sleeves and body. Plus surviving the boredom of all that stockinette, round and round and round and round and round. I'd be knitting this thing with something like a fifty inch chest measurement, too, which means I'd have to totally re-work the pattern because the one I've got doesn't go that big. And it's from the top down, with only six specific rows in the yoke to do the increases; there would be no fooling around on that. One mistake and I'd be doomed.

I'm still not sure I'm doing it. This is just in the planning stages, which is why I only bought one spool of yarn to swatch with, while asking myself "Can I stand to knit this for six to eight weeks without a break?" I spent over a decade knitting lace; it's not the fine gauge that scares me, it's all that stockinette without so much as an eyelet for distraction or interest.

Not sure I'm this crazy. Probably, but still not sure.

Although, if I DO knit this, it's what I want to enter in the state fair. Why fool around?


debsnm said...

I think a certain amount of insanity comes with the knitting needles. Either we inherit that gene along with the knitting gene, or there's something in the needles and/or yarn that drives us crazy. Listen, on my BEST day, I'm not totally sure I'm sane, so I can totally see where you're coming from on this. I'm right there with ya on the yoke - as long as there's some kind of "reward" - seeing the pattern devlop, or whatever, I could TOTALLY do that yoke. BUT, the body???? Couldn't you hire someone to do all that stocking knit for you? I think they'd have to lock me up someplace for my own safety (and everyone else's). 8 weeks of never-ending teeny, tiny stocking knit?????
I completely and totally admire that you knit lace on a regular basis - I tried, and haven't worked up the nerve to do it again. This is where I admit my complete fear of tiny needles - I can do the socks, as long as there's visible progress, but I think I'd lose it completely on a sweater - my size would be roughly the same as yours, and there's no way I'd have the stamina.
If you do this, you TOTALLY have to enter it in the state fair, and anything less than best in show would be unacceptable. I think the only thing that would make that much stocking knit bearable for me would be doing it Continental style - it would at least go a bit faster, even if I'm unsure about my gauge that way.
If you do do this, I'm excited to see the progress pictures, and there's at least one crazy out here cheering you on!!!! :D

debsnm said...

huh - babbling and not even drugged - go figure! LOL