Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Epic Dad Sweater

I just got back a little while ago from my trip to visit my parents and help clean out their basement to prepare for some remodelling. It was way too quick, but very nice and pretty productive. I got there shortly after things started blooming and loved seeing daffodils, croci (crocuses?), camelias, etc., and lots of green, and mountains, and... As usual, visiting Portland made me want to move back. But there's too much to stay in Minnesota for, so here I am.
Basement and daffodils aside, this was a rather momentous trip in my knitting life. I finished and presented the sweater I've been making for my dad for about a year now. Here's a photo and my Ravelry project description:

Pattern: Saddle Shoulder Sweater from The Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns, by Ann Budd
Size: 46"
Yarn: KnitPicks Swish Superwash in Truffle, 15-17 balls (see below)
Needles: Size 6 for ribbing, size 8 for the body
Modifications: See note below about stitch pattern. I based the length on measurements of the green sweater, plus some length in the body.

In the early 1970s when my parents were first married, my mom knit a sweater for my dad. Since then, he's worn it so much that my sister actually questioned my honesty when I said I had seen a photo of him wearing another one. Family members have tried to get him to wear something else, resorting to cashmere for a pretty down-to-earth guy. But he hasn't worn any other. It's grown with him as much as possible, and is in remarkably good shape, despite a little fading and being a little too short now. Although this new sweater isn't particularly fancy, it's epic because of my effort to make the second hand-knit, precious sweater of his life. Because he's not much for change, I kept it about as similar as I could. I went for brown instead of green, and a slightly different, but equally subtle stitch pattern, but stuck with the saddle shoulder, crew neck style. I added a couple of inches in length for a better fit, and did K2-P2 rib instead of K1-P1. Each of these choices, however small, really mattered. I gave myself about a year for the project, and could have done it quite a bit faster if I were a one-at-a-time kind of knitter. Sadly, I'm not, and shortly before Christmas, I came to the realization that I was about to run out of yarn! Knit Picks had sold out of the dye lot by the time I accepted this, so I didn't get the rest of what I needed until a couple weeks ago. I ended up being able to hand-deliver it this weekend, so I got to see it on him in person, which was great. He drove off to work this morning wearing it, and seemed to like it. So, perhaps my epic quest for sweater number two has been successful.

Yarn note: I was very careful to order conservatively for this project-- or so I thought. Maybe a lot of yardage got used up by leaving long tails to avoid changing balls mid-row. At any rate, this combination of pattern and yarn didn't work out so well in that respect. On the bright side, the dye lots were identical as far as I could see.

Stitch note: To make this a little more interesting than stockinette, I twisted every fourth stitch in every fourth row, staggered. It adds just a little bit of texture, gave me something to pay attention to, and made it easier to make the pieces match up.

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