A snowless winter in the mountains two years ago prompted my return to the world of crafting. Specifically knitting. I started with an infinity scarf, moved onto to headbands and hats. Then I discovered the wonderful world of youtube “How-To” videos which taught me everything I know about crochet.
Unfortunately all these new and re-discovered skills came into my life at the same time as I was re-habilitating my wrist from an injury. The hours I spent winding yarns around each other in various patterns with a variety of needles were definitely not condusive to the healing process. But then again neither was working as a chef. Or throwing myself down a mountain on a board every week. I am my own worst enemy.
I survived, and so did my wrist. After we moved back to the Lower Mainland I was ready to embark on my next project, a raglan sweater. My Nona’s patterns, and my inspiration, were old school White Buffalo Cowichan sweaters. Of course, being the eccentric perfectionist that I am I couldn’t just follow an existing pattern. I decided that I was going to design my own. Since I had just made a Dalek hat, and I was in the process of re-watching Doctor Who, that was immediately where my brain went.
For the first time in my life I used a piece of graph paper to actually graph something. With a little help from the internet it didn’t take long. The next step was procuring the wool. Making an adult sized sweater takes several balls of yarn which doesn’t come cheap. To cut corners I raided Nona’s vast collection, pulling out each and every colour as long as they were a similar weight.
Once the sweater began to take shape I had to play the guessing game, estimating after each and every row of knit and purl, hoping that I would have enough of that colour to make the stripes work across all six pieces of the sweater. It isn’t anywhere close to perfect. I miscalculated the sleeves compared to the body, they are not nearly long enough for my taste. Since it was my first time knitting fair-isle not in-the-round I had troubles with the tension on the back piece, the centre of it puckers. None of that matters. I love everything about it.
If you know nothing about Doctor Who the next paragraph won’t mean very much to you. The two Daleks facing off on the front, one in camouflage from the episode with Winston Churchill and the other the Supreme Dalek. On the sleeves are the heads of a Cyberman and a wooden Cyberman. On the back is a shadowed TARDIS flanked by two Weeping Angels.
This was the beginning of the end. I was hooked, knit, purl, and sinker. The structure of the sweater, the ample and endless opportunity for variety, excited my creative side. I took to drawing up patterns just in case. Traditional Cowichan and Salish animals and borders. Symbols from literature, movies, and pop culture. Soon I received orders for custom, personalized sweaters.
To date I have made eight or nine sweaters. Doctor Who for myself, a hummingbird to sell, a Lord of the Rings inspired one for my Uncle. That was around the time that the summer rolled around and nobody wanted to wear sweaters and I didn’t want to knit them. Fast forward to September and it all started again. One friend requested a sweater based on the honey badger meme. Another order came for a Totoro, followed by a T-Rex. I made a Wolf just for fun and then couldn’t give it away.
The sweaters are a labour of love. They take a week to make, and that is only if I work on them for hours every day. The design goes by reasonably quickly, probably no more than 2 or 3 hours to graph the entire thing. Six pieces total. The back, two pieces for the front, two sleeves, and the collar. I don’t knit them in any particular order except the collar is always last. Each panel takes a minimum of two hours and most of them take between four and eight. I have never calculated exactly. Perhaps when I make the next one.
Exciting things are happening in other parts of my life right now that have distracted me from making anything new. I am always looking for the next challenge. Whether that is a sweater, a story, or starting a business. My needles aren’t going anywhere, they will be there when I receive my next order.