Daily Archives: January 10, 2008

And A is Additionally for Alpaca

I was going to promise that this was the last “A” post for ABC-along 2008. But you know what? I don’t want to promise, because who knows what else will strike me?

But this Alpaca is on my mind.


This is Lana d’Oro, a Cascade yarn which is 50% alpaca, 50% wool and sinfully soft. I have a Vision for this yarn, knit together with the blue hand-painted yarn which you can see peeking out at the top of the photo above (click the link to see it in its full glory). I envision a tracery of the richly variegated blues in colorwork, with the cream as the main color of the sweater, in a rather Delft effect. Because the alpaca blend plus color-stranding will be very warm, I envision this as a cardigan rather than a pullover, for adjustable warmth and more wearability and versatility. I have found several patterns in various knitting books that are inspiring me to adapt them for the colorwork, in particular one that looks like ironwork tracery from an old avant-garde Norwegian knitting book I have.  (Old avant-garde — I suppose that’s an oxymoron.  But it is, or was.)  But I also am browsing through a couple books of Celtic and Arts and Crafts Movement motifs.

Here’s my puzzlement, or what-have-you. I signed up for a low-key Elizabeth Zimmermann EPS sweater KAL, through Ravelry, as seen on Margene’s blog among others. I was planning this to be an EPS sweater anyway. The colorwork absolutely should be knit in the round, in any case. For a cardigan, that means steeking, in good old Fair Isle fashion.

I have never felt the need to make a Fair Isle cardigan, so I have not steeked. I am usually a pretty fearless knitter, to be sure. But this is not Fair Isle yarn, which means additional reinforcement is needed to prevent unraveling, like machine stitching or crocheting. I’m getting a bit insecure, because I am basically planning on designing my own sweater with motifs that I’ve adapted, using a technique I’ve never done or even seen done, with yarn that is not replaceable (the hand-dyed yarn). I’ve read up on steeking, and on Norwegian sweaters, which would be more similar to mine than Fair Isle is (not that I’d be doing Norwegian sleeves, this will be a yoke sweater, I believe).  My friend Lee has steeked sleeves, I think, and could hold my hand through that part.  But I’m quailing a little bit. There is just so much that could go wrong. And I’m not sure how best to do the button bands, etc. If I had a pattern that was a Norwegian-style cardigan, and that had button bands I liked, then I could adapt it easily. But I don’t (the avant-garde Norwegian designer book is very avant-garde; I’ve looked at some Dale and some Elsebeth Lavold books, but the ones I saw didn’t have a basic cardigan).

I’m contemplating wimping out and instead knitting a basic EPS sweater with some sort of fun yoke and sleeve pattern that I could design from scratch, I think, using a rather nice Louet chunky merino (in which I have a lot of black and then a variety of smaller mill ends in a bunch of colors). Then taking my time to find a suitable cardigan pattern that I can base this off, even though there will be a zillion modifications, and then knitting my Delft cardigan somewhere later down the road.  There’s no deadline for the KAL other than 2008; and it’s not as though I don’t have other things to knit, either.

Any thoughts?  Or anyone know of a good basic cardigan pattern that’s steeked, with a good-looking button band?  Or should I just overcome my fear and plunge in?    I’m not at all used to being anxious about knitting; it’s usually full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes.  (Somehow, the torpedoes sometimes find me, though. . . .)

A is for Anxiety. . . .