Pattern: River Forest Gansey
(Ravelry link) by JoLene Treace
I have a confession to make - I love knitting books. I own a lot of them, but as a librarian I look at even more of them. (I don't actually order the materials for that part of my library's collection, but the librarian who does welcomes my suggestions, so I consider it my professional responsibility to take a look at any new knitting books I come across!)
I have a mental knitting queue that is four times as long as my expected life span, but it doesn't stop me from looking. I can tell when I'm really stuck on a pattern based on how many times I check the book out of the library.
River Forest Gansey is one of those that stuck in my brain for a long time. The photo in the book is of a little boy wearing the sweater held in the air by a grown man, also wearing the sweater. I knew when I looked at that photo that my boy would look adorable in that sweater.
So earlier this year when my favorite LYS
had a sale I took my 4 year old and we picked out a rich pumpkin orange shade of Cascade 220 to make a sweater for him. Little kid's sweaters don't use a lot of yarn and the yarn was on sale so I didn't feel too extravagant.
I took the project with me when we went away this summer but got off to a slow start. The cast-on described in the instructions baffled me, and I can figure out most knitting instructions. I tried several different times to figure it out, even went through a bunch of knitting books in my mother-in-law's house for clues, with no luck. Finally I chose a different cast on from June Hiatt's book and moved on. (I did finally decipher the original cast-on instructions with the help of Beth Brown-Reinsel's excellent book Knitting Ganseys and used that on the sleeves).
I am normally a very careful knitter - I swatch, I think, I move forward only when I know what I want to do. This time I decided to just wing it on needle size - I started the sleeve on size 8 needles and knit about five inches before stopping to check gauge. Completely off. I normally knit fairly tight so I had gone with a larger needle size, but this is a gansey and the fabric needs to be firm. So I ripped and started over.
Overall it was a pretty easy knit. There were some technical mistakes in the pattern which were annoying but not insurmountable. I made a few changes - making a cardigan with a zipper instead of a pullover being the main change. (Funny story - I struggled for days figuring out how to put a button placket on the front without completely screwing up the motif placement. I took it to Friday knitting to pick Sylvia's
brain, and she and I both brainstormed trying to come up with a solution - button loops, asymmetrical closure, henley, none of them made sense. After ten minutes of this with no satisfactory solution, she suddenly looked at me and said "or you could put a zipper in". Of course!)
My boy is still a pretty small guy, all things considered, so there wasn't a lot of square footage to churn out. I was able to knit the pieces for this in a couple of months. Then of course I stalled out while I contemplated putting in the zipper, but the weather turned colder and I wanted him to be able to wear it, so I buckled down and finished it.
I am pleased with the results. He loves wearing it and tells people that his mama made it - way to make a mama proud!
However, there is a postscript to this story.
My husband and I have known each other for a long time. We have been a couple for a long time - approximately 18 years. In that time I have knit him one sweater, which he never wore because it was too small for him (don't get me started on this - I made it the size he asked for!)
In any case, every couple of years I offer to make him a sweater and he declines. He loves the hand-knit socks I have made for him and accepts any and all socks I offer to make, but not sweaters.
Until now. As I was making this sweater for the boy I was mentally making a queue of what to make next. My list was heavily influenced by what yarn I already owned, since I own a bunch and wasn't in the mood to spend more money on yarn right now. So I'm happily knitting along one day when the Italian stops and looks over my shoulder and admires the knitting and how much progress I have made. I said thank you and went back to my own thoughts. At which point he said to me "you know, I'd wear a sweater like that."
I almost dropped my knitting, at the same time that I didn't really take him seriously. I said something non-descript and didn't think of it again. Until I was ordering the custom length zipper for the boy's sweater when the Italian said "make sure to make note of the color in case you need to order another one".
This time I looked at him and said "you really want a sweater just like this one? In the same color?"
Yup. That's what he wants. Not only that, but he said it would be really cute if he and Buddy could wear their sweaters at the same time. And Buddy's sweater is only going to fit him this winter, not next, so I have a deadline.
So once again I went to the yarn shop who special ordered more of the same yarn (same color, different dye lot) and now I am flying my way through the Italian's sweater. The back is done, I'm six inches up the fronts, and I can't believe I'm making this sweater again!
Labels: Buddy, Italian, kids, knitting