I think it began with the Azor, a 4ply cardigan that I started last summer. I’d sped through the beautiful colourwork yoke in less than a week, but something about the on-and-on-and-on of those tiny same-same stitches in the body turned it into a sweater that trawled through treacle to get finished.
So that got me to thinking that if a tiny stitch gauge was dragging my knitting back, perhaps I could refloat the boat with a great big chunky knit sweater for F. It would be speedy, warm and easy-peasy. I cast on the Aran Gallant and got all those things – plus a super sweater that he loves.
But the knitting? It still wasn’t scratching my itch.
Now at the risk of gate crashing the 3 bears’ breakfast, these sweaters were starting to feel a bit like bowls of not-quite-right porridge. Don’t get me wrong – both were delightful patterns and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to anyone, but as far as my knitting appetite was concerned, I was still hungry.
Then the Betula Cardigan pattern showed up in the new issue of Laine Magazine. I’m not sure what Golidlocks and her grizzly housemates would have made of it but it totally had the look of a Just-right project to me: Textured stitches with a gentle and balanced geometry formed pretty patterns which climbed up the sleeves and the body. The model – apparently a potter – wore it under a leather apron in reassuringly work-ish surroundings.
I imagined myself wearing it in a dusty pink – looking somehow industrious and creative, like the potter in the picture. The knitting would be interesting all the way through, and the DK gauge meant I could cast on with the Sheepsoft by Laxtons. This heathery Masham BFL blend had arrived at the end of last summer. It had an intriguing bloom and haze on it, that we rarely see in yarn before blocking – and I’d been looking for an excuse to cast on with it ever since.
Lovely cardigan, blooming marvellous yarn, promisingly interesting knitting and an easy gauge: That was easily enough for me to overlook the pattern’s slightly outmoded Rowan-in-the-90s bottom-up construction of flat pieces that would need seaming at the end. Afterall, I know how to purl on the wrong side, and I reckoned there could be something rather pleasing in a kind of old-school way about the closure you get from mattress stitching it all together the end. I was fully on board.
It was that post Christmas sofa-mooching-around time. I cast on, ribbed, nailed the lace pattern, whizzed up the back, left front, right front.. The wool was nothing short of delicious – woolly, soft, cosy and as happy being stretchy for the rib as it was compliant for those diagonals. New Year came and I had a day-return train trip to Suffolk to make – the pieced knitting meant I would be travelling light – 1 skein and my needles to complete the first sleeve, while the body pieces were all folded in a satisfyingly complete pile back home. Even the train seemed to be whipering Just-right.. just-right as it clicketty clacked through Woodbridge and Darsham in the winter sunshine.
And that’s how I found myself blocking and sewing up a dusty pink cardie less than 3 weeks after I’d started it. So why haven’t you seen me wearing it yet?
The sad truth is that whilst me and that cardigan were getting along so swimmingly while it was on my needles, the finished thing just isn’t, well.. isn’t really my thing. I don’t think it suits me, or fits me right. I’m really not sure about the colour anymore – I’m convinced it was dusty pink when I started but it seems to be more of a beige now. And the length? I need to be a couple of inches taller for it to work. It looks lovely on the hanger – just not on me.
We take a punt when we choose a pattern from a picture of a garment being modelled by someone else – it’s a mixture of taste and perhaps also wishful thinking. So, regrets? Not a bit of it! I loved making the Betula and I had a super time with the wool. This is the deal with knitting – there’s a jeopardy that means you don’t get to meet your garment until you’re way too invested in it. Mostly you win, and sometimes you don’t but I’m not going to call that losing. It just means that.. well.. the search for Just-right continues..