How fast can we knit?

Jim and I have embarked upon a slightly wild plan to knit a sweater before Yarndale. I have been lusting after a Telja sweater for some time. My lovely local yarn shop (Frome Yarn Collective) had a sample of another of Jennifer Steingass’s patterns in the window earlier in the year, and I walk past twice a day on the school run. Every time I saw the sweater I fell a little more in love with it.

When our aran yarn arrived in the office back in May I started planning colourways in my head, and this weekend I grabbed some time to swatch a couple of possibilities. I printed out my pattern, and as I sat down to swatch the yoke chart, our eldest looked over my shoulder and said how much she loved the design.

Jaw falls on floor.

She’s never ever shown any interest whatsoever in a knitted sweater, so I did what any sane parent would and pretended I wasn’t bothered, whilst silently squeaking like a loon on the inside. I started to knit a swatch in the colours I’ve been imagining for myself all these months. I cast on with Lawn as the main colour and joined in the Mist as the first contrast. A little while later when I pulled some more colours out for the first three-colour round, eldest returned and said that she wasn’t sure about the Ginger, but felt Storm would be better. I quietly joined in the Storm.

Having knitted a swatch with Lawn as the main colour, I couldn’t help but cast on for another option. It’s just so much fun to see how the colours play off each other: Mustard looks brighter against Mist than it does in the skein, and the combination of Sky and Storm is cool and harmonious in a way I hadn’t anticipated. I couldn’t stop myself from showing my swatch to anyone passing within a 5m radius. Poor Jim was bored senseless with my constant expressions of joy!

I finished up the second swatch (Storm, Sky, Cornflower, Jade and Pool), and eldest informed me that she would really like a sweater in green, but she felt the yellow was a bit strong (personally I love it just how I knitted it, but you know… kids). I agreed to duplicate stitch over it to try out replacing the Mustard with Storm, as she was comfortable with the concept of Mist and Storm together.

However, we both agreed once the Mustard was covered with Storm, it felt a bit heavy, so we settled on the compromise of switching the positions of the Sky and Mustard. I should probably have done another stint of duplicate stitch to check how this will look, but by this point my needles were dancing round the living room in excitement at casting on.

I’m not entirely sure how it went from, “oh this is a pretty sweater” to “let’s knit this sweater in less than a fortnight”, but before we knew it, both Jim and I were knitting as fast as we could! The weekend was spent working on swatches, and by the end of Monday the colourwork was complete on the first sleeve and body, and Jim had started sleeve increases. Happily, eldest is a slightly smaller size than I am, so that makes this crazy plan to knit Telja before Yarndale slightly less crackers. Eldest can’t believe her luck either, as she’s well aware of how long it normally takes to finish knitting a garment. It’s win all round!

By the end of play on Tuesday the crazy plan is looking more sane by the minute. I had forgotten the delight of knitting in aran weight – it knits up so quickly! I am ready to start the waist decreases and Jim is ploughing up the sleeve increases. I’ve worked out that I need to complete 7.5cm [3in] of body a day to keep on pace, and yesterday I managed a bit more than that, so I really think we can do it! I’m far too excited by the prospect of a beautiful completed sweater for Yarndale, but I’m sure (with a bit of cheerleading from the wings) we can make this happen!

I should add that I’m getting 18.5 sts to 10cm [4in] which doesn’t match the gauge on the pattern, which is 20 sts. I’ve done a little bit of maths, and I’m making the third size, which at my gauge will come out at 38.9in instead of 36in. I’m also keeping an eye on row gauge as I go, as I suspect that I’ll need to work the shaping in body and sleeves with slightly fewer rounds in between, and possibly take out a round or two in the yoke. I shall keep you posted, and my project page on Ravelry updated.

If you’re coming to Yarndale, please do stop by our stand (203) and either congratulate me on its completion, or commiserate that we didn’t quite make it if the needles are still in the yoke somewhere! In any case, I’ll be there with all our books and yarns, and also the samples for the next Something New to Learn. See you there?