Thursday, July 14, 2011

Three Sweaters -or- Why I Spin and Knit

A short story about three sweaters and how they came to be.
By me :-)

The First Sweater

I went to my favorite department store today, and folded neatly on the table was the most beautiful sweater! The colors were exactly to my liking, the fit was perfect, the design was gorgeous and the fabric was so soft. I immediately purchased it, took it home and wore it the next day. Family, friends and coworkers were impressed by how nice the sweater looked.

The end.

The Second Sweater.

I went to my favorite yarn shop today. Amongst the walls and shelves of beautiful yarns I saw it. My color. My fiber content. The exact weight of yarn I like to knit with. The yarn was luxurious. I spoke to the store owner and together we pored over books and patterns to find one to my liking. Pattern, yarn and needles in hand I made a small gauge swatch to see that the fabric was going to be as nice as I'd imagined, and that the measurements of the sweater were going to come out right. I cast on for the sweater and the rest of my knitting friends admired the color choice, the pattern, and how even my stitches were. I so enjoyed the feeling of the yarn through my hands, petting the unwound skeins, smoothing out the growing sweater and imagining what it would look like finished. Finished, the sweater blocked exactly to my measurements and I pieced it together with care. I decided to name my sweater the same as the designer had called the pattern.

I paraded around in my beautiful new sweater; my knitting friends admired my stitches, how well the sweater fit, what care I'd taken in finishing it. To my family and coworkers I proudly told the tale of how I knit the sweater myself. Some of them were impressed; some asked why I didn't just buy it from the store.

The End

The Third Sweater

My friends and I went to the local fiber festival this weekend. We ate the delicious junk food at the vendor stands, talked to the sheep, goats, llamas and alpacas in the barn, and watched the sheep to shawl competition. Between all of that we shopped (and shopped and shopped) for yarn, needles, notions and fiber for upcoming and newly inspired projects. While I was shopping the fleeces from that years' fleece competition I came across this beautiful brown fleece. The sheep's name was Evangeline and she was a Romeldale. That breed of sheep is known for producing a very soft fleece which spins well, and her fleece had won first place in the competition. The fleece had been well cared for, and it smelled heavenly; like a clean barn. I purchased the fleece and added it to the growing collection of stash which I had been amassing.

Once home, I opened the bag of Evangeline's wool and the barnyard smell reminded me of that day at the fiber festival. I petted and sorted the fleece, removing the few bits that the farmer hadn't removed. My hands were soft from the lanolin. I carefully washed the lanolin and dirt out of her fleece and laid it to dry. Then I started carding. I blended in all of the different shades of brown in Evangeline's fleece so that my final yarn would be a tweedy heathered brown. The fleece was soft and airy and pulling the carded fiber off of the drum carder yielded fluffy batts that I often couldn't help but bury my hands in. When done, I had plenty of carded fiber to make a full sweater with some left over to sample. So sample I did. With my favorite spinning wheel I spun and plied 5 mini skeins of Evangeline's wool to see what kind of yarn I wanted to knit with. I kept the notes of the favorite sample and spent the next couple of months spinning the rest of the fiber. I handled every inch of Evangeline's wool, and then her yarn. I made skein after skein of soft beautiful brown wool. My friends at my spinning nights enjoyed petting and smelling the carded wool and the finished yarn. The friends who had come with me asked if that was Evangeline, and commented on what a good job I'd done preparing her wool and spinning it.

With the yarn completed, washed and in fluffy brown hanks I petted the yarn and pondered what pattern to make. I took a skein to my favorite yarn shop and with the owner we picked out the perfect pattern. I decided that instead of naming the sweater after the pattern's name, I would call it Evangeline. I swatched and knitted a sweater exactly to my liking, in that perfect shade of tweedy brown. I blocked and finished it with care and paraded around in my beautiful new sweater; my knitting friends admired my knitting. When I told them I'd made the yarn myself, some were impressed; some asked why I'd gone through the trouble, why I hadn't just bought the yarn at the yarn shop. To my family and coworkers I proudly told the tale of how I knit the sweater myself and had made the yarn from a beautiful fleece. Some of them were impressed; some asked why I didn't just buy it from the store.

The End

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