Earlier this month, Knit Picks released their 2015 Fair Isle Collection, with which I immediately fell in love. I love stranded knitting. I love looking at it. I love knitting it. It is one of my favorite knitting techniques. I have been in the mood for a sweater with an all-over stranded knitting motif, something modern and pretty. So I fell pretty hard for the Mull of Kintyre Cardigan.
And by fell hard, I mean I bought the whole pattern book and the kit for the sweater. And I was really, really, really excited for the yarn to arrive so I could start on this beautiful, challenging, perfect sweater. But I hadn’t really paid attention to the fact that the whole thing was knit flat (yuck). And it wasn’t until I looked over the charts that I realized that there were more than a few rows that were knit using 4-5 colors at the same time. I was a little worried, but I told myself it would just be my challenge for the year (because I really, really loved the sweater, guys): finish this sweater while strengthening my skills in stranded knitting.
So this weekend, when my yarn arrived, I started swatching.
I could not get gauge! Everything I tried came out too tight, even after I went up 1.5mm in needle size. (I actually knit four different gauge swatches, but these are the only ones that lived to see the light of day). And, more importantly, I
kind of hated knitting just the swatches. My purl rows were not too pretty, and fighting with 5 different yarns (even on bobbins) was a nightmare for my tension. By Saturday night, I was so frustrated with the whole thing. I would look at the pattern and the swatches, which were so pretty (mostly), and just be exasperated that this wasn’t working for me. I wanted it to work really, really badly. But I just knew that if I was this frustrated with just the swatches, then getting through the whole sweater would be a knitting nightmare of epic proportions.
If anyone has/knows of tips for stranded knitting flat and with 4+ colors, please share with me! I couldn’t find much out there, which only compounded my frustration.
I felt rather defeated. And a bit angry. And just all together flustered. I hate feeling like I couldn’t accomplish something I set out for myself. So I spent all day Sunday planning to take on another stranded knitting project with this yarn because 1) I have it, so I want to use it, 2) I love the colors they picked for this sweater, and 3) I will not be beaten by this. I want something that pushes me a bit. So, I think I’ve decided to modify Kate Davies’ Paper Dolls sweater. I’ve knit the pattern before with a Totoro yoke, so I have a familiarity with the pattern that I feel will give me the confidence to try it again with a custom yoke of my own design while also converting it into a cardigan.
I love the mod, retro look of the flowers on the Bunty Mitts (especially with my color palette) combined with the style of Kate’s Foxglove sweater, so I ran with it, playing with different heights and color combinations.
In the end, I’ve decided to go with a single height (to avoid having to do the flower tops with intarsia and having weird tension issues) and stick to red flowers with just a couple cheeky turquoise flowers thrown in for a little surprise and good fun.
So, I’m going to let myself cool down a little bit while I finish up at least one of the other sweaters I have on the needles currently. Then I’ll take on this project just to build up my self-esteem a little bit. And maybe someday, after some more practice and patience, I’ll be able to tackle the Mull of Kintyre. But today is not that day.