Although Ed’s green sweater is not done, it became clear to me that he will need more than one sweater. I realized this after I had knitted the cuffs, which I did at the same time, even though I knit the rest of each sleeve separately. I’m practically incapable of making two things the same size if they’re done with a simple stitch like stockinette, garter, or ribbing, because I lose count. I’ll always knit cuffs, sleeves, or whatever else may need to be identical at the same time, if it is at all possible, to avoid the frustrating counting of stockinette rows or garter ridges.
Mountain Mohair relaxes when blocked, and I wanted the cuffs to hug Ed’s wrist for warmth. On the morning after I knit the cuffs, Ed looked at them and said, “They seem small. How will I push them up to my elbows if I’m washing dishes?” Once again I was speechless. First, I proved to him that they would not be too tight by showing him the way the ribbing expanded on the blocked fronts. But then I said with obvious incredulity that he shouldn’t even think of doing messy chores in it (or, of course, push the sleeves up to his elbows). I also told him that this sweater takes three days to dry—that is what it takes when I give my son’s Mountain Mohair sweater its annual maintenance. (My sweaters come with a lifetime maintenance guarantee—my lifetime. I don’t trust either Ed or my son to take proper care of my knitting.) If Ed messes the sweater up or gets it dirty, he won’t have it for at least three days.
So we compromised. He is going to get a Polartec sweater from Lands End to wear while doing anything likely to mess up his sweater, and I’m going to knit another so I can take one away and care for it should the need arise.
I’d been mulling what this new sweater would be like. It will need a shawl collar and pockets—I can’t vary from those requirements. I don’t want to knit another cable sweater because it would take too long. So I thought of either a knit-purl combination or slip stitch. I made my son the Family Sweater from Morehouse Farms after his first year at school in Schenectady, where the winters are very cold. This was my first attempt at slip stitch, and I liked it a lot. Slip stitch is no harder than knitting stripes, and the fabric is dense and warm. (This sweater is wonderful to knit, and the Morehouse yarn is fabulous. In fact, I have stash yarn to do the cardigan version for me.)
One thing has always bothered me about this pattern though. It doesn’t line up at the shoulders.
I discovered this when I was assembling the sweater, and there wasn’t much I could do about it. Will needed the sweater for school, and I had just spent six months of marathon knitting making three heavy, complicated sweaters. Ripping wasn’t an option. But I’ve always wondered if this problem was inevitable because the pattern isn’t symmetrical or whether if placed differently it would have aligned. So now is my chance to find out.
But the real push to knit this sweater came when I got a sale email from WEBS. WEBS is featuring this yarn, which has many of the same qualities as the Morehouse Yarn. Because it is relatively inexpensive, I bought a lot of it so I could try different three-color slip-stitch patterns. My color choices for Ed are limited because of his absurdly conservative taste in clothes, and so I’m sticking to the chocolate, camel, and natural. (The balsam green Mountain Mohair was a very hard sell, and a major departure from the browns, grays, and blacks of his “wardrobe”.)
It was hard to justify a yarn purchase before leaving for Stitches East, but this seemed perfect for what I had in mind. So when “Ed-1” (the green sweater) is done, I’ll be coming up with my own design for “Ed-2”. And this will be another Manly Gift Along project.