As I was closing in on finishing the Ithilien Brocade Jacket, I was finally faced with some decisions that had been pretty easy to put off until that point. I knew generally where I wanted to go with it, but couldn’t hammer out some of those details until I actually got there.
One of those areas was the collar; the plan was to miter the cable on the front band to turn the corner on each side, then pick up neck edge stitches as I worked toward meeting in the back. The big questions were 1) where exactly on the cable would I reach the miter point, and 2) would they collide when they met at the center back? Oh, yes, and how would that come together with the center back cable? It was way too much to hope that they could be seamlessly grafted – I was just hoping it would not turn out to be a three-way crash.
So, the miter turned out pretty well… the knotwork balanced nicely on each side of the pivot point. As with the rest of the cable, the ‘upstream’ pointy end is a little pointier than the ‘downstream’ end, but I can live with that. Since the neckband curves, the cable design is a bit compressed in some areas, but again, that is to be expected.
Sure enough, there wasn’t quite enough room to put in a center ‘knot’. Nor would the loose end of the center back cable band fit in. I toyed with the idea of joining them all into a triskele, but there wasn’t quite enough room for that, either. So I settled on i-cord growing from the cables, with a leaf-shaped tip.
And, in the interest of continuity, I did the same thing on the bottom of the front cables.
Next up was the issue of button placement. I’d been mulling this over for some time, and had decided early on that the buttons should not be on the cabled band at all; I did not want to hide those cables. So a double i-cord edging for the center front seemed an ideal solution. The buttons would be highlighted against the blue-green, and the buttonholes would be nearly invisible between the two rows of i-cord. I worked the first row along both center fronts, then started a new row all the way around the center fronts, neckband and lower edge, grafting the ends together.
But the neckband facing had to come before the i-cord. I had fun shading the cuff facings, but decided to go with a solid bronze for the neckband. Besides the fact that it would look much more finished (and the neckband facing would show, unlike the cuff facing), the stranding on the inside of the cables would be nicely protected from snags.
In the photos of the cables and the sweater turned inside out, you can easily see the color progression; this was the part of the sweater design that actually gave me the biggest headache, and took the most time.
I started buying yarn in 2005, but shelved the whole idea when I couldn’t find a bronze-colored yarn that suited me OR enough background colors that were close enough to shade from one to the next, and similar enough in value to avoid obvious striping.
Picking up the project idea again in 2007, I started buying single balls of yarn from a variety of sources. Local yarn shops are always best, since you can see and feel the actual yarn, and can compare it to yarn you already have. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a big demand in my area for fingering-weight 100% wool. I found plenty of sock yarn with nylon, but that’s not what I was after. There are, of course, lots of online sources, but colors on a monitor are always iffy. Color cards helped with those LYS special orders as well as online, but a single snippet doesn’t tell you everything about how a number of colors will work together. So I still have a number of colors that I didn’t use in this sweater, but I expect I’ll use them in something some day.
When the dust settled, I ended up with yarns from three different manufacturers: Brown Sheep Nature Spun, KnitPicks Palette and JaggerSpun 2/8. Some are heathers, some solids. Some are fairly loosely-spun two-ply, some are more firmly spun three-ply. But amazingly enough, they all ended up looking pretty much like they were made for each other. I spent a LOT of time swatching, and then washed the resulting fabric, and was pleased to find that the firm yarns bloomed and the looser yarns firmed up with the relatively snug gauge. (I got a little bit hooked on the swatching. I still don’t know for sure whether it was the voyage of discovery or fear of commitment…) The resulting fabric is surprisingly light and drapey.
I used three shades of blue, three of green, and three of purple. The general sequence goes (three rows of each color): green, blue-green, blue, blue-purple, purple, blue-purple, blue, blue-green, green and so on, but with more color variants in between.
I still think I would recommend going with the same brand of yarn for a project whenever possible, but when it isn’t, for whatever reason, it’s worth experimenting. Since I wasn’t in a big hurry, and (mostly) enjoyed the experimentation, it definitely worked for me!