Spiral Yoke Pullover
Every once in a while we're lucky enough to acquire a truly special batch of yarn. We save it and save it until we think we have the perfect pattern for it. When and if that moment ever comes and we dare start in on this high-pressure project, we spend half the time worrying if the sweater will ever be good enough for this, the jewel of your stash. And very often it's not.
I've had and have a lot of these types of yarns that have never been touched as a sole result of the fear that no garment could ever do them justice. And until the beginning of June this was one of them. And, for the first time I'm not sitting here wondering if there could have been a pattern that might have been just a little more appropriate - and that's enough on its own to be pumped about.
Pattern: Spiral Yoke Pullover by Meg Swansen [Ravel It]
Source: Handknitting With Meg Swansen (Schoolhouse Press)
Materials: Sundara Yarn Worsted Merino (Discontinued) in Charcoal over Scarlet
Amount: 7.5 skeins (approx. 1300 yards)
Needles: US 7 and 8/4.5 and 5.0mm Addi Turbo Circulars
Start Date: 2 June 2008
Finish Date: 16 June 2008 (real-time is always a bit ahead of blog-time...)
Notes: I followed the pattern recipe as directed - there's already a lot of freedom built in so there isn't much to modify or fuss about. I worked a tubular cast on for both sleeve cuffs and base of body (i use this method - it takes longer but the results are always clean as a whistle), which looks really sharp in a yarn with such crisp stitch definition. To finish the neck I worked a sewn bind-off, my very favorite way to finish collars - super stretchy without ever getting streeetched out of shape.
This is truly a special sweater: the yarn alone means a lot - a gift from a talented friend which is not only exactly the color I had been vainly searching for for ages, but is also now sadly discontinued - and a pattern which I couldn't have enjoyed more. Seriously. Rarely, if ever do I find a pattern that I wouldn't mind knitting again right away after finishing. But, never say never.
If you're interested in making this but don't want to buy an entire book for one pattern, let me tell you to silence those worries straight away. Handknitting has a bunch of smart, quality patterns, (author people, author) many of which I plan to make in the future, and is, as can be expected, full of clever tricks and techniques as well as plenty of the witty banter we've all come to expect from Elizabeth and Meg.
More about the yarn - it's a semi-solid, hand dye by Sundara of Sundara Yarn in Seattle, WA - one of the great dyeing talents in the business and a wonderful person to match. I came into this rare lot two Christmases ago and have had it decorating my shelves ever since. It's a 4-ply, worsted-spun merino with super crisp stitch definition and the ability to suck up some serious color! I've never seen a yarn with as deeply saturated a red as this. (Also the hardest color in all of Christendom to photograph... but it's close enough *grumble grumble photoshop frustration grumble*.)
The pattern is written using EPS (Elizabeth's Percentage System) which you know I can never get enough of. There are no stitch counts or spoon feeding of any kind, just gauge suggestions, body percentages, and of course charts for that lovely spiral, which means if you put your mind to it you're almost bound to have a sweater that fits you wonderfully and a knitting process that is hugely satisfying.
The spiral yoke is genius because it exploits round-yoke construction (consecutive decrease rings evenly spaced over yoke depth) in a beautiful and clever way, at the same time totally camouflaging all those k2togs (or ssk's if you want your spirals to go in the opposite direction)(Yes, you get to choose). I'm always drawn to the spiral in knitting - it seems to me to be the organic shape that is most in line with the process of knitting in the round, or at least regularly decreasing in the round (think spiral crown shaping on hats, etc). It's smart and intuitive, and really fun to knit.
My favorite part? Definitely the collar accent where the spiral snaps into the opposing direction, defining the collar band and creating all those sharp little zig-zagged angles. So cool.
This pattern has a big ol' stamp of approval from me - I'd love to see more of them with different yarns and on different folks. I'm seriously considering another. I'm thinking.... Handspun natural Shetland. Cardigan. Sounds good right? Now if it weren't for all those other sweaters sittin' around getting jealous.