Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Back to the Drawing Board

Our thirteen year old son recently made a pair of speakers out of some pine and some new naked speakers (you know, just the circular part that makes noise).  He toiled over the assembly for days, and really created some beautiful work.  But it wasn't quite right to him, and so he took them back out to the garage and tweaked some more.  After several hours and the sounds of lots of power tools, he came in with unusually long arms and face, and asked if we could go purchase store-made speaker assemblies.  My husband assured him that when he was thirteen, he kept his family warm for an entire heating season (or was it two?) with all of his failed projects.  It was too early to give up, and off they went to Home Depot for more pine.

In February I brought home five skeins of Ball and Skein's Providence yarn, a lovely light worsted merino.  I always have a library of designs in my head and on paper, but none of them was quite right for this yarn.  It has very crisp definition : I needed interesting stitchwork, but not a sweater full.  The silhouette needed to feel familiar : retro in a comforting way.  I had to use pleats - I don't know why.  My husband recollected ladies with hankies tucked in their sleeves (a large chunk of my knitter's block broke off with that detail).  So I designed this, Fannie Fouche :
and I did all the swatching and the grading and I was halfway done with the math for the raglans which looks like this:
and I made the charts too

and then I said to myself, "Self, I think this yarn is better suited to a set-in sleeve".  So I went on a quest to learn set-in sleeve construction, from the top down, knit simultaneously with the yoke of the sweater.  Tuulia Salmela has a fantastic downloadable pdf book and excel spreadsheet, The Tailored Sweater, that took me step by step through the construction.  In order to fully understand it I had to knit a sample:

I haven't admitted to anyone yet that most of a sweater was knit in the middle of knitting my Fannie Fouche.  Frankly, I think I'm a little embarrassed.  It is now on the back burner.  I wanted to change up the sleeve cap shape and the shoulder technique, so I made these knee warmers:

Then Quince and Co came out with a lovely cowl pattern that was so similar to the stitch pattern I had planned to feature, that I felt the need to change gears. More swatching:
More drawing:

A major rewrite:

 One false start:

And now I feel like a I'm riding a unicycle and juggling, watch me go:

And here are the new speakers:

Can you hear them?  I can.


magnusmog said...

I love your dedication - it must be a trait you've passed on as well :)

Brendaknits said...

It appears to me - by your knee cap covers - that you have achieved great success with your top down set in sleeve.

judy said...


I'm exhausted thinking about it. Looks like I better send you some more yarn. Better yet, come see me at NH S&W. I've got something new for you...

Ellen Mason said...

ooh goody! I'll be there Sunday, and maybe I can squeeze in a Saturday visit as well. I love surprises. I've been remembering that orange Providence fondly ...

craftivore said...

I swear I read it as "sneakers" and spent most of the post wondering why he was making speakers out of wood. I love your start and stop designing, I can totally relate to that. Sometimes knitting takes so long that I try to cram three items worth of ideas into one, does that make sense? I should be at NHS&W on Sunday as well. You know that it's not on Mother's Day this year, right?

Elizabeth said...

This is gorgeous, Ellen! You have such a talent for the well-tailored sweater.

I seem to get to that do-over, crap-I'm-never-going-to-figure-this-out phase with everything I've designed (usually happens multiple times with the sweaters). Remember the pianist Muppet from Sesame Street who would bang his head on the keys, yelling, "I'll never get it! NEVERRRR!" That's me.

sadie said...

It is a very well-known thing amongst gardeners that you have to kill something three times before you really know how to grow it.

Same applies for a knit I figger.