Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Thinking about colourwork

Do you follow your horoscope? I do, but not seriously. The advice it gives is so generic that it stands anyone in good stead no matter what day you were born. I'm going to follow mine today. It says:

"Set your goals early on and then get to work, for you have been given cosmic clearance to have a very productive day. "

In the spirit of setting goals early, I am going to talk about my project for my husband. Some time ago, he mentioned he liked the vest his dad had left behind. It had a Fair Isle like design over the front with a plain knitted back. Since then, I have spent a fair bit of time, pondering exactly what sort of things my husband will need in a vest and how best to accomplish it.

He is going to need serious pockets. None of the namby pamby little pockets that are only as wide as the opening. He needs real man vest pockets, the kind that would allow you to carry the kitchen sink and the tools to fix it with. They need to be deep and firm edged so that none of his stuff falls out.

The sort of pockets I am thinking about are like the ones often found on bunny hugs (what the young people are calling hoodies - they must be too manly to call them bunny hugs). I am a little worried about the slanted opening, though. A straight across pocket would be easy. Snip one thread, pick up the stitches on one side (thank you EZ)) and knit the pocket. Pick up stitches on the other side knit a flap. Easy Peasy.

But a slanted pocket in a stranded colour work piece? I don't know. I'm getting a mite unsettled just thinking about it. I have even been thinking about ways to get out of doing my first stranded colour work, and cutting a complicated pocket in it, by thinking that what I should do is knit a plain vest and make only the pockets carry the colour work. If the pockets were overlaid on the rest of the vest, it would be extremely simple. And thick. Too thick. It would look nice, but it isn't what I set out to do, so no short cuts. I will set that aside.

There should be at least one breast pocket. It can be a more average sized pocket, but access has to be easy. He prefers to carry his cell phone in his upper pocket when he has a choice.

A knitting friend recently made a bag out of a cable she was working on before starting a sweater and I think that is a capital idea. I'll knit up a couple of samples large enough so they can be used as a bag of some sort later. The swatch will be knit in the round exactly as I plan to knit the vest. I want the colour work on the bottom 1/3 of the vest only, so I need to figure out what different needles sizes are going to give me gauge in the stranded colour work and the plain knitting. Then I'll practise cutting and inserting pockets.

Another great reason to knit a large swatch is to play with colour. I have some yarns picked out that I think will be right, but I worry that my colour choices don't contrast enough. Playing with similar colours of yarns as I worked up the hats taught me that I needed to insert black between some of my colour choices to make the changes pop. Since you really need the colour to pop in Fair Isle, the large sample swatches will be a great place to play with the colours till I get it right.

Big swatches are going to give me the chance to play a little with design too. I have not made a final decision of the design of the colour work sections. Some ideas are floating in my mind from a Dale of Norway book a friend gave me, and I have all sorts of samples in the traditional pattern book I have. The swatch will tell me if the designs I choose are going to work together when they are in front of the world.

The bag is probably going to be on the fugly side. It is practise and I do intend to massacre it till I get it right. I'll hope that it falls on the sweet side of fugly.

These are the things I am pondering while I knit today. And that is what I am going to go do right this minute. I have now set my goals and given myself some space to think through some details. According to my horoscope, I have cosmic clearance for a productive day. No point in letting that cosmic clearance slip away.

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