The Sweater Blog

I’m a little ashamed that I haven’t started thinking about this sooner, but life has been rather chaotic in general. But at least I didn’t wait even longer and then just bag the whole idea. Here it is. There is a challenge in the interwebs universe called NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) whereby anyone and everyone who is interested is challenged to write a 50,000+ word novel in a month. Specifically, the month of November was chosen by someone way-back-when. Anyway, another someone took that idea and translated it for crafters into NaKniSweMo: National Knit-a-Sweater Month, challenging participants to knit (or crochet) a 50,000+ stitch sweater within that month.

Granted, I really don’t need any prompting to challenge me to knit a sweater or other largish item. Still, it’s cool to know that I’m doing this along with hundreds of other people around the world. And the existence of Ravelry, the social networking site for fiber artists, makes it all possible.

So, I am getting my stuff in order so that I can begin this sweater on November 1st. Certainly preparatory actions are necessary to be sure the finished product will be worthwhile. And when we’re talking about a sweater, something that is intended to be worn on a body – preferably in public, there are definitely standards! I have spent the past week (since deciding to commit to this) making some of the preliminary decisions. Before I can do much there are a couple things that are essential: a pattern and yarn.

The decisions about what pattern to knit up and what yarn to use go hand in hand, and at any given time one choice can precede the other. It’s not quite a chicken-and-the-egg question, but it’s close! I think a majority of my knitting projects this year have been chosen first by the yarn and then by the pattern, mostly because I have been striving to knit from stash as best I can. But then there are those times when a particular item in my stash hasn’t told me what it wants to be. And yes, I do have these conversations with my yarn occasionally. I’ll take a pretty skein off the shelf and pet it, and we’ll have a telepathic conversation. And then it will be returned to its resting place.

The Ravelry library of patterns is very helpful in plotting the destiny of a yarn. Or, if I’m venturing to a fiber expo or knit/crochet conference, I may skim over my queue of planned projects to see if there’s something I know I want to make but don’t yet have the right yarn for. All of that planning and dreaming and scheming can be done while I’m at work, too. So that’s helpful – rather than cutting in to my actual knitting time!

I digress – how did THAT happen? I’ve already done the initial research and planning, so I’ve picked out a sweater I’d like to make. And thanks to the aforementioned stash-down efforts for the year, I have looked at the variety of options available involving sport weight yarn. I have several ginormous cones of a wool-silk blend. I used some of one cone to knit a lacy patterned sweater earlier this year, so I know it will knit up into a nice drapey fabric. And after a review of my pattern library in that context, also considering other freebie patterns available on Ravelry or the interwebs, I have settled on a cardigan that (thankfully) doesn’t have buttons. But it does have a nifty detailed lace edging at the sleeves, bottom and front of the sweater. And there is short-row shaping at the bust, so I can put to use the class I took earlier this year on short rows.

My next step in the process is to knit up a gauge swatch to determine the proper needle size for my needs. That’s the only way to be sure I’ll make the correct size and that the resulting fabric will be worthy of the effort. Off to cast on my swatch…

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