With Swatchfest over, I laid out all the swatches so that Eric could choose a yarn for his sweater. The winner? Black Water Abbey’s Forest, which is going to make a wonderful deep emerald sweater, when it finally gets designed and knit up.
I duly pulled out Janet Szabo’s Aran Sweater Design and a foot-tall stack of stitch dictionaries and Aran and cable pattern books, and started considering elements for his sweater. Naturally, I couldn’t find a complete sweater to my satisfaction, nor even a sweater design that I could modify slightly. No, I’d need to design from scratch.
Going through my books, a gansey from Sabine Dominick’s Cables, Diamonds, Herringbone stood out. Hmm. I hadn’t considered doing the traditional, mostly knit-purl patterns. Wonder how they’d swatch up? I decided to swatch up some diamonds, herringbones, and ship’s ladders and consider doing a sweater along the lines of a gansey instead of an Aran.
Several swatches later, the sweater pattern was just not coming together. These patterns were doing nothing for me. I wondered if it was because these were motifs based on the sea, and we’re rather land-locked. What if I came up with motifs based on my Rocky Mountain location, such as pine trees, aspen leaves, mountains, and snowflakes? The concept intrigued me.
I researched motifs, finding some, like tree of life, which would work great, and having to invent others, like an aspen leaf, by drawing them out on graph paper. Ideas all graphed out, I sat down to swatch again.
This time, I liked the swatches that were turning out, but I wasn’t happy about how they looked with the yarn. Ganseys are traditionally done with tightly-spun, 5-ply (or thereabouts) yarn, on small needles, the better to show off the knit-purl relief. I was asking this two-play Aran weight yarn to do something it was never intended to do. Black Water Abbey yarn makes cable stitches stand at attention like little soldiers, but the knit-purl patterns get lost, even when I try twisting the relief stitches to make them stand up.
So, I’ve put the graphed motifs aside for right now. It’s the right idea, wrong yarn. Right now, I have a sweater’s worth of yarn that my son has picked out that needs to be knitted up. Although summer’s heat is beating down on us right now, the fall and winter outdoors season will be upon us before we know it, and I can ill afford to order yarn from the U.K., wait for it to show up, and then design some sort of land-locked gansey. No, I’m going back to the pattern books and coming up with an Aran, because I know those stitches will work very nicely with this yarn. If you’ll excuse me, I have an armload of books to retrieve from the stash room.