Friday, August 5, 2016

Fiber & Friends #4 Continued--My Fisher Lassie

If you haven't read the previous post about Fisher Lassie, you need to do it now. I'll wait right here till you're done.

Ok. So.  My own Fisher Lassie is made with Jo Sharp Classic DK Wool in a heathery shade called Ink. I picked the color (a navy blue with grey doing the heathering) because it looked so much like denim, not only a work clothes fabric, but one of my all-time favorites whether woven or knitted. (see weakness for Rowan and other denim cotton yarn)

Once I began knitting those first patterned sections, though, I had a brief freakout about the color choice. A gansey is all about texture patterns, and it was looking like a heathered field of moosh. Pattern submerged in the randomness of blended grey and navy.

Fortunately, when I backed away from the knitting, the texture was unmistakable. It was there! It is visible! But a new mental post-it note for my knitbrain. Absolutely solid colors are the best for textured patterns. I might not be so lucky the next time.

There was also another mental warning embedded here. When it's hard to see texture up close, it's hard to spot knitting errors in time for an easy fix. I had jolly well better get through the patterned upper sections before the summer light wanes, or I will be a crazy lady with a crappy looking sweater next spring. Once the armholes are joined and the texture finished, it's smooth stocking stitch sailing with the sleeves and the remainder of the body.

So here I am just before the Joining of the Armholes:

Armholes were joined, and carefully I made my way to the end of 5 pattern repeats. While spraining my arm patting myself on the back in congratulations, a Wonderful Idea sprang into my joyous knitbrain. Why not do the sleeves now? The entire armhole is waiting and ready. And by making the sleeves now, I can avoid my least favorite part of the knit-in-one-piece sweater. The part where the entire body is done and you have to do the sleeves by tossing this big hot pile of wool around and around in your lap, with associated tangling of needles and yarn.

So, Reader, that's exactly what I'm doing. Tossing a little bolero around and around instead of a full-grown sweater. Putting the main sweater body on spare yarn also enabled a try on of said bolero. Hm. Fit is as expected, but the end of pattern hits not quite at the bottom of the boobage. On the pattern model (refer to previous post) the ridge is somewhere midway between bust and waist. As the sleeves go round and round, I am contemplating doing an extra vertical pattern repeat so the ridge hits in a more flattering place.

Oh yeah, and I found just the right heathery denimy buttons already--See?

Wish I could get the photo to show how well buttons and yarn match. You'll just have to take my word for it.  Navy is fickle to photo.

So round and round and round we go, and where the pattern's gonna stop, nobody yet knows!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Fiber & Friends #4

Possibly the biggest-deal class I did at Fiber & Friends was the Fisher Lassie Cardigan class with Bonne Marie Burns, the designer. What an eye-opening pleasure it was to approach the making of a complex sweater with its designer by your side!
(c) Bonne Marie Burns
The Fisher Lassie is a modern adaptation of the traditional fisherman's gansey design. The Net Loft has been undertaking a major gansey project in Cordova for over a year, learning about and recreating the historical garment for contemporary fishers in a location as dedicated to commercial fishing as the British and Dutch herring towns were in the 19th century. In the days before synthetic waterproof clothing, tightly knit wool was the best choice for keeping warm when wet. Ganseys had special design features to enable vigorous movement, yet were also displays of beautiful textures that showed the knitter's skill and imagination.

Uncredited photo of Dutch fishermen in their ganseys

Bonne Marie Burns designed the Fisher Lassie as a cardigan partly because in modern centrally-heated times we go in and out of warm and cool, and a cardigan is easier to put on and take off as needed. Out of respect for tradition, it is made with a wool yarn, but a substantial dk weight that is still less dense than the traditional 5-ply.

Over the two days of the class, we learned about measuring for size, and how to choose the right size to make based on the amount of ease the garment was designed for, and the amount of ease we personally prefer. Gauge, of course, is a major factor in the size of the sweater that actually turns up on the needles. We swatched carefully and thoroughly, thinking about needle material and knitting location as well as simply needle size. It all makes a difference!

This sweater has a rather unique construction, and it was terrific to have the designer there to explain it in detail. Overall, it is "knit in one piece", but sequence is important. First the patterned two upper parts of the front are knitted. Then the upper back is picked up and knit into the fronts, with the back neck cast on in the middle. When front and back are the same length (and on the same row of the texture pattern!) the armhole bottom is cast on and the whole thing is worked from side to back to other side. Almost as if it were in the round, but you have to stop at the button bands, turn over, and go back around with the other side facing. It's a little more complicated than the average sweater.

Bonne Marie (center) explains some concepts
 We had Bonne Marie's own original to examine up close and personal, which was a great help. In addition to the particulars of this sweater, she taught us some great techniques to use in all our future knitting: a sturdy same-row buttonhole, a pick-up-and-knit that is as strong as a sewn seam, how to sew on a button that will never come off.

Eventually we were fully prepared to cast on for the Real Thing.