Come steek with me..

The summer holiday knitting project dilemma has become as familiar as the smell of cocount sunscreen in my getting-ready-to-go-away story. There’s an irony here given just how much of June, July and August I spend researching and peddling advice to others about what will work on holiday. Surely mine should be a well informed surgical strike at the perfect project? Somehow it’s never worked like that for me.

I knit and I think about knitting a lot, but choosing what to knit on holiday is always a much knottier challenge than what clothes and paperbacks to take. It needs to be the right amount of interesting to be a worthy holiday companion, but also manageable enough to knit without too much focus, and of course sufficiently inspiring to motivate me to make and wear it. And that’s on top of all the other practical considerations about something that’s small and light enough to pack and carry. This challenge is a lot!!

This year I found myself cycling through a carousel of projects on ravelry, bobbing up then down in how I felt about each one: a garter stitch boxy cardigan I’d love to make, only I’d like to do it in yarns which we’ll only get later this autumn, there was a great tank top, but perhaps a bit too similar to the one I made before? And a super-wearable, 4ply t-shirt but the knitting looked a bit endless-stocking-stitch for my mood, and oh that lovely textured yoke cardi – only I wish it was a bit more swingy in the body. And then there was Orlane Sucche’s Azor. I’ve admired this sweater for such a long time, the fit and the patterning were enough to get me to put my 4ply stocking stitch issues to one side. But I’d much rather make a cardigan than a sweater. Could I square that circle? Or more correctly, cleave the sweater?

I studied the pictures and the construction notes, and decided this was a pattern deviation, which although bold, was not too drastic. I’d add a steek channel of 5 stitches to the cast-on, exactly half way around the circumference of the sweater from the centre back beginning of round, and cut through it at the end to make a cardigan. Finally, I my knitting plans were summer holiday-ready!

1 train journey to Norwich and 35 miles of cycling later, I unpacked my project bag, unfolded the pattern and reviewed the first few short rows I’d finished on the train. I proceeded to follow all the other instructions exactly as given – with the addition of my 5 extra stitches which I worked as very visible vertical stripes in the colourwork yoke section.

It has thrown up a couple of challenges that if I had my time again, I might approach differently:

The pattern’s distribution of yoke increases wasn’t designed to be bisected by a steek, and consequently ended with one side being slightly bigger than the other. My somewhat clunky fudge here was to move the centre back marker along 6 stitches to balance things out at the end of the yoke. Pedantic observers of patterns will also notice that the steek doesn’t sit neatly between the motifs. But this is an inconsistency which tells a tale that I’ve decided I’m on board with in a good way.

Ultimately it won’t be until I cut the steek, that we can really tell whether the cardigan conversion has worked but the adventure in getting there already feels like this year I really did nail the right summer-holiday shaped project.

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