Thursday, March 10, 2016

Kate's Alice, The Journey

Well, I've been working on this jumper
(or 'sweater' for the foreigners) for some time now. Starting with the swatch (which is not representative of guage because every second row is a purl row) to give me the colours...
Oh, no that's right, I started with choosing the colours... hang on. I'll go back...
I've heard recently that Alice Starmore is a bit sniffy concerning any alterations to her patterns (see 'Sweater Quest' by Adrienne Martini for a funny, interesting and thorough look at things pertaining to her year long quest knitting Starmore's Mary Tudor. Read it, it's funny because it's true).
Since I didn't know I was being controversial, I set about to choose completely different colours and another shape for my Thoroughbred

I actually really really love Alice's colours, and if I was my (red-headed) children, I would choose them verbatim, in a moment. But as I don't want to look like I've just (barely) recovered from a serious bout of Hepatitis B, and I really, really love the design, I pulled out my entire stash of 2 and 4 ply wools (of which there are many) to rethink the sheme.
I used to buy wool mainly for embroidery and so have loads of single skeins, perfect for Fair Isle.
I also have a colour card from Jamieson's in Shetland, which the 1989 Vogue pattern used (if I remember correctly, better be careful of what I say). So after highlighting my pattern (or, my working photocopy. Which is legitimate use by the way, so long as I don't sell it or otherwise) into foreground/background, I pulled out the appropriate original colour swatches and put them in order. 2 rows: background, foreground.
This is where Alice's fabulousness comes in. Every combo (and they're staggered, so each colour is matched with 2 others) works beautifully. Sings, as they say. Saint Matthew's Passion, even.
Then some brain gymnastics... how to completely alter the colours? Light to dark and dark to light.
I dumped my wool boxes onto the floor (having cleared a space by shoving other projects to the perimeters).
A backdrop of greens and duck-egg blues, going into yellows and chartreuse? Start with your Must Use colours. I lay them out in a row. Now pinks? Reds? Orange? Matching Alice's values (light to dark-dark to light) and trying to make each row sing. Mine's probably more Yma Sumac

This took ages and some tea. Lots of rearranging, which is fun.
I threw in a couple of contrast rows... purple, and blue dots etc. And fluro orange. More contrast than Alice, I'd expect.
The colours start to talk to you themselves so you let go of the original reference after a bit.
So, yep, did the sample and was very happy. Frame worthy, in fact.

The overall plan is to vary the yarns as I go along, getting lighter and softer then brighter or hairier etc. Largely to keep myself amused.
I didn't notice that I'd made a complete rainbow until I photographed my working wool box.

Originally, I intended to do a sample with what I had in The Stash, then replicate it all with Australian Tapestry wools. But, the mohair row looked good, and the Marta's Yarns orange does not exist anywhere in the world (now that she's gone), so it quickly became a fiddle-about wool range project. i.e. a fun thing. No bossiness of (self imposed) regularity.
I should add here that I do have one rule (ish). Once chosen, I won't unpick a colour. I choose carefully, but have to admit that occasionally I lost the 'singing' bit of the equation by varying the red or the green or whatever. (Note to self: Don't just think of how the red to pink or orange works, but how it then relates to the background and vice versa). I can't think of a musical equivalent to this row or two but I am reminded of a 'Music to Breastfeed your Baby' CD that bored the shit out of anyone with decent taste in music.
Fortunatley, I cut and sticky-taped a little swatch of my original choices to the key chart, so I can revert to that when I get frightened and lost.

I started a top-down jumper, using Annalisa as the shape (shown above), since no way am I wearing a box like the original Thoroughbred vest. This is not the 80's and my once stick-thin figure has padded out somewhat.

To jump a huge part of this story, I didn't like the shape (too pointy) and for other big reasons (mysterious and never to be shared publicly) I ended up started again using Kate Davie's 'Bluebells', bottom up this time.
I'm Hopeless at Maths. So I decided to draw out the pattern onto graph and scribble in the squiggles, then highlight the foreground. To embrace moronic-simplicity and embrace my love of stationary and fine-tipped pens. When I finish a row, I highlight it in a different colour. It looks nice and is very satisfying to mark out a row.
I'm playing with colour a lot and it's not so bright down at the hem, but will get brighter near the neck. Also, I've been seduced by silk mohairs etc. (any excuse to buy more wool). 
The further I get along, the more often I use 2 strands of 2 ply, rather than straight 4 ply (this is something I do in my embroidery too), maybe a 2 ply mohair with a 2 ply wool. You get a pretty subtelty.
Now I'm onto the freaking sleeves. Fair Isle on DPN's is a nightmare so I tried to do Magic Loop, which was a nightmare since I kept losing my loops and have no Youtube nor knitty friend on the train to help. So I've reverted to 2 short circular needles and will see how I go.

The free-style decision is to do each sleeve with little or no regard to the main. I guess the pinks and eggshells are unchanging (I forgot to tell you that before), which keeps it real. I think I'll also not regard the first sleeve too much when I do the second either, maybe. Maybe not? And add some initials for a point of difference.
We'll see.
So that's it so far. I'll keep you posted. The thing is, you can read this or not read this, but I hope it's not too boring, but wanted to write down my thinking, for when the dementia sets in.

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