Recently in Finished Projects 2004 Category

Not all my retrospectives are going to hape happy endings -- at least not for the sweater.  Today I'm going to share the story of my Banff.  Banff was one of the "it" sweaters for winter 2003-2004.  Published in Knitty, it seemed like just everyone whose blog I read was making this sweater.  I was more easily lured onto the bandwagon back then and knew a lot less about my own sweater preferences, needs and necessities and got seduced by both the pattern and the idea of knitting it in Manos del Uruguay

Less than a year later, this sweater had gone from a darling to a drag, and ended up on my "rip list".  Yet nothing happened until yesterday, mostly because of laziness and because it's just kind of hard for production knitter me to rip out something I spent hours on. 

Why was my Banff (click the link to see my gallery and my less that flattering look in this sweater) such a failure for me when it was such a hit for so many people? 

  1. The yarn and the sweater were not a good match in the gauge stated.  Manos is a singles yarn spun thick and thin, but mostly loose and soft.  Knit at the gauge the project called for, it made a nice fabric, but without a firm gauge, this yarn fuzzes and pills like crazy if it is so much as rubbed against anything -- like, say, one's office desk when one is working on the computer.  This sweater looked shabby after the second wearing. 
  2. Oversized is good on some folks, but I am now convinced that it is not a good look on me.  Especially when combined with the proportions of this sweater.  The pattern is stated to have 12 to 16 inches of ease on an average person.   That's a lot of ease for a sweater that length-wise is geared more towards what I would consider "petite" sizing (at least in the US market).  Put them together... too wide and too short for me.  Not a flattering look.  And, at the time, I was one of those optimistic knitters who just trusted the pattern and rolled with it.  I think the folks who were successful with this pattern were smart enough to adjust it to both lengthen it out and narrow it up a little bit.
  3. I love turtleneck collars, but wool (no matter how soft) and turtleneck and I do not go together.  I just start itching like crazy (I'm not wool-allergic, but I can't tolerate much around my neck area that isn't completely smooth -- so far only cotton and silk seem to work for me).  So this sweater always had to be worn over a cotton turtleneck -- which only emphasized the bulkiness issues.
This is one of those projects that taught me (long in retrospect) that I needed to evaluate pattern sizing and schematics carefully and not be drawn into knitting projects just 'cause everyone else thought they were cool -- unless I had the moxie to modify them to suit my needs*.  And, although there are exceptions to this rule, most of the time, sweaters in bulkier weight yarns just don't work very well for me. 

Clearly, though, I was content to let this sweater sit in a drawer for quite sometime.  What got me to pull it out and recycle it today?  The Piping Hot Pillows in Weaving Made Easy: 17 Projects Using a Simple Loom by Liz Gipson.  They are simple plain weave pillows with a woven piping edge.  And they are woven using two colors of Manos del Uruguay.

Now, I have some Manos in the stash, even in contrasting colors that look good together, but probably not enough for more than one pillow -- and I was thinking that having two or three of these pillows to decorate my bed or couch with would really be nice.  And there was only one way I could get my hands on 2-3 pillows' worth of yarn without exercising my credit card:  recycling Banff.  The Piping Hot Pillows look to be woven at a density that won't irritate the fuzzing issues further, and, even better, they are fulled before being assembled, which should also help keep the yarn from getting really abused looking should the pillows actually get used.    I will miss not having multiple colorways in the pillows, but I think that the variations that derive from the kettle dyeing of this yarn will help to create a little more depth in the fabric.

So I got out my ball winder and my swift (if there are any two tools that are more valuable to someone who likes to work with fiber, I don't know what they are!), picked apart Banff's seams and reclaimed 7 skeins of "Thistle" Manos by winding directly from the sweater onto my ballwinder to create center pull balls.

20090315_BallsofBanff.jpgWith a little help from my swift (attach the center pull tail and then rotate manually), I turned these into hanks.

20090315_HanksOfBanff.jpgUsed yarn is always an interesting creature to me... so sproingy.  I choke tied (with a figure eight tie) each of the hanks before taking them for a warm swim in my bath tub with a little Eucalan.  Pleasantly enough, there was no observable bleeding into the water -- a good thing for a item that's likely going to be against skin and clothing.

The yarn is now hanging to dry after it's relaxing and kink-removing bath.  Next stop: weighing and warping.

* I'd like to take a moment to emphasize that I am not dissing this sweater, it's designer or it's design.  It just wasn't the design for me.