The Expressive Creatrix (and Hobbyist)

{June 17, 2011}   Call Me Crazy . . .

. . . but I’m going on my own personal “Sweater Quest,” and I’m bringing you with me!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Sweater Quest, it’s a book by Adrienne Martini chronicling her year-long adventure of knitting an “Alice Starmore.”   “Alice Starmore” the thing is a sweater using the Fair Isle technique of knitting (there are many different designs).  Alice Starmore  the person is the knitting designer who (it sounds like to me)  took Fair Isle and really put it on the map.  Apparently, she is the master.  

No, I most certainly am not taking on a Starmore!  The most intricate I get with colorwork at this point in my newbie knitting career is making stripes (and I try to avoid doing that as I hate weaving in all those yarn ends when I’m done!), and I’ve never even made a sweater let alone one involving somewhat complex colorwork.  No, a Starmore is something I would do much later in my knitting career if at all.  Truthfully, the Starmore stuff I’ve seen, while I can appreciate its beauty and gloriousness, just doesn’t float my boat.  If I’m going to invest a lot of money, time, effort into something, I expect to freakin’ love the result and to wear and treasure it for years!  (And possibly pawn off on . . . err, I mean lovingly gift to my eldest daughter when I pass.  She may not truly appreciate it as something she’ll wear and use, but I hope she respects and treasures it as a monument to her mother’s knitting fortitude and dedication.)

What I am lusting after is, a Swirl!  A Swirl is the creation of knitting designer and self-published author Sandra McIver.  Her book, Knit, Swirl!   This book came to my attention when the patterns were posted to Ravelry last week.  (Well, the patterns themselves aren’t posted, but pictures of the projects are with information on how to obtain the patterns.)  Every Swirl I saw was beautiful and had that kind of boho hippie vibe that I love!  I’m talking every kind of boho hippie – from flowing and elegant to fun and funky.  I just love the flowing, yet fitted style.  Something about them screams, “This is YOU!” to me!  I had to have one!

So, the book was purchased immediately from Amazon, and I received it yesterday.  The price was the not-so-low price of $34.95, but really for a new release hard cover book, that’s in the ballpark.  Only the truly patient can wait for a book to come out in softcover and for it to be 2 or 3 years old before they buy it.  I really wanted this book, so $34.95 was reasonable.  In fact, upon looking at the book, it’s very reasonable.  The book is clearly written with many, many color photographs.  The author gives a detailed explanation of what a Swirl is and the characteristics of the four different types.  There are schematic charts (which, honestly, make my head hurt at this point) and what appears to be solid instruction.  There are hints and tips on everything from choosing your size, subbing yarn, gauge and swatching, and knitting techniques from casting on to finishing.   Also, “included” in the price of the book is the author’s website (linked above) with errata and tutorials.  If you’re a member of Ravelry and are in the Knit, Swirl group, you’ll have the benefit of Ms. McIver’s presence there.  She’s been popping in to comment, make suggestions, answer questions and in general just be there.  I’m hoping all of us are providing her with some feedback she can use!  She seems to be a very gracious woman. (I won’t go into more detail on the book.  If you’re interested in learning and seeing more, check out Ms. McIver’s website (there are reviews posted there in the Blog section) and the listing for the book.)

Okay, being the impatient sort, I read a good section of the book last night and looked through the patterns about a million times.  Which to pick?  So many caught my eye.  I finally decided on the Strata Sphere.  I like it for a few reasons.  The length, drape and shaping is appealing to me.  I want something a bit more fitted, and I think if I make this in a size one, it’ll fit the bill.  After examining the instructions and schematics, the Strata appears to be pretty straightforward.  There’s no lace work or really complex patterns.   And finally, I love how it incorporates so many colors but that the effect is simply made by using hand-painted (variegated) yarn rather than using combining single colors of yarn.  I can handle that! 

So, the yarn has now been acquired.  Since this is my first attempt at a Swirl (or any complex knitted thing), I decided to use the same yarn as suggested by the author rather than trying to figure out an acceptable substitution.  The yarn is Noro Silk Garden, and I went with colorway 211.  (I carefully looked at a LOT of the colorways that appealed to me in the finished projects at Ravelry, and 211 quickly emerged as a favorite!)

My plan is to start swatching next week.  Swatching is such a not fun part of knitting, but it needs to be done.  Gauge is really important, so I need to suck it up and swatch away.  I pray I’m lucky and get gauge right off the bat!  After that, it’ll be a “swirling” summer. I have no illusions about knitting this thing quickly. I need to have three projects on the needles at all times so I can switch around depending on my mood.  Right now, my mock cable cami is off the needles, but I still need to make the crocheted straps (which is a whole ‘nother story), but I have my Sunday Market Shawl and Rococo Shawl still in progress.  So, I’ll be knitting shawls like crazy (as well as maybe foraying into some socks or a skirt I have the yarn for once one of the shawls is done) this summer, but I’m not going to put any pressure on myself to get something done.  I’m suppose to enjoy this!

Wish me luck!


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