Sunday, October 13, 2013

It Wanted to Be a Sweater

When I first started knitting, I had unrealistic ambitions and no real idea of how slow a process it is to create a piece of fabric out of what is basically string. I love cotton sweaters, especially oversized ones, and so I bought some cotton yarn at a nearby fabric store.  It was Lion Brand, which was quite reasonably priced, and I bought a skein of the two contrasting colors and two of the main color. (Clearly, I had no idea of the conversion scale of yarn to fabric in either volume or time.) Worsted weight makes for a medium gauge and I worked away for a while, then got sidetracked with other things and the sweater parts languished in a drawer. By the time I got back to it, the yarn had been discontinued – who knew one should buy all the yarn needed for a project at the beginning of the project?  Obviously, not I.  So the partial sweater languished some more.

While obviously we make a sweater stitch by stitch, a felicitous quality of knitting that is not shared by cooking or quilting is that it is also possible to unmake a sweater, stitch by stitch.  Sometimes the unmaking is even more satisfying than the making – it’s certainly quicker.  Then the raw materials can be reused in another more economical pattern.   So my one-third of a cotton sweater is now being reincarnated into more useful items. I started with this kitchen towel from Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines.  It reminds me of the dishtowels my aunt would embellish with a crochet loop for hanging on the stove or refrigerator handle.
Having a dishtowel, obviously, I need some dish cloths, aka “warshrags”.  These are great projects for beginners to practice on. Besides offering almost instant gratification, making dish cloths is a good way to try out a pattern that might be too intimidating to tackle as a large project, like an afghan or throw. I found this attractive textured pattern called “Flying Geese.”  I love that this pattern is named after a quilt block. It’s all knit and purl stitches and could easily be knit by a beginning knitter who wants to move past scarves. (You know who you are!)

After that, I needed a change. A jeweler told me once that any time an item of gold jewelry is melted down and re-cast, you have to add some new gold. Sort of like sourdough starter, I imagine. I thought this was a good idea for reknitting yarn, too. And it’s a good excuse to buy some new yarn.  So, I bought a variegated skein of Lily Sugar 'n Cream cotton. The two yarns made it possible for me to try a dishcloth version of a pattern I’ve been admiring for a long time, Lizard Ridge. I love the way this pattern looks, but it is a little tricky because it uses short rows to create the wavy ridges.  This pattern requires your full attention for the counting and wrapping.  I’m glad I started with a small version instead of trying to make one big enough to cover a sofa or bed. I feel like that would require zen-like concentration and saintly patience. (I’d better save that for a summer project.) Still, I love the way this looks.


Finally, I picked up some of the contrasting yarn and started a mitered dishcloth.  This is also a square that could be made in multiples and joined into a throw.  I like the contrasting rows and I am planning to make a multi-colored batch of these as a couch throw.  (oooh, more yarn to buy!) 

 But that’s another future project.