After returning to New York from my summer in BC I immediately felt more settled and ready to hunker down into some tapestry weaving and knitting projects. As relaxing as my time in BC is every summer I am a real homebody. There is nothing like being in my own space to help me feel focused on projects - and then there's nothing like a good knit-along to put a little pressure on.
I haven't knit in a serious way for over a year since my love for tapestry weaving was rekindled two springs ago. But last week upon returning home there were two knitting projects that I wanted to get going on right away. I've had Nancy Vale's Slant Special cardigan on my needles for too long - maybe over two years! I rarely make deadlines for projects because I don't work well under pressure, but this project really got lost in my WIPs since knitting has taken the back burner, and it didn't help that I got really frustrated with Nancy Vale's pattern writing style. I even contemplated frogging it to use the awesome Madtosh DK yarn for a different project all together. It seems Miss Vale was trying to keep her word count down when she wrote her pattern since entire sections that are opposite of a former section are written something like this, 'Now do what you just did, but backwards'. I'm a seasoned knitter and can do that, but I really don't like having to write out entire sections ie. one whole half of the front of a cardigan, on my own, thank you very much (there are no charts either, btw). I have since given the Nancy Vale book away and plan on finishing the sleeves, collar and button band on my own.
One of the reasons I love Shannon's knit-alongs is that you never need to have finished your project to be eligible for prizes, AND you can sign up with projects that you've already started. So signing up this summer gives me that perfect amount of pressure to continue on with my Slant Special. The second project I want to start is Jared Flood's Backbay. I've been dreaming of knitting it up since I tried it on at the Brooklyn Tweed trunk show at Purl Soho last year. Knitting Backbay works perfectly since I need another pattern's sleeves to complete my Slant Special (since the original pattern has really baggy 80's sleeves that I would never wear). Backbay's construction is close enough to the Slant Special's and uses the same weight yarn. Happy Janna.
Actually there's a third reason - I've recently become acquainted with Custom Woolen Mills 3ply Mule Spinner yarn, which I'm hoping will be a perfect replacement yarn for shelter (except for the fact that it's not a tweed). I'm head over heals for it as a weaving yarn! Custom Woolen Mills is a spinning mill based out of Alberta and they use Canadian sheep's wool, so in some ways their yarn really is a Canadian equivalent to shelter, which you might know is spun in the USA with USA sheep's wool. I bought a huge shipment of it to experiment with since soon I'll be offering weaving kits with yarn that is hand-dyed by me using natural dyes. I'm still in the yarn/pattern designing stage though so stay tuned!
As a knitting yarn, time will tell, but I have a really good feeling based on my swatch. It's quite soft, has excellent loft and the merino in it gives an overall cozy feel and look. And for me, cozy is oh so important.
It's never too late to sign up for Shannon's knit-along, I just did two days ago. This year's summer sweater knit along is sponsored by Brooklyn Tweed, so there are sure be some luscious prizes from them to be had, among others. Join us!
Janna Maria Vallee is a tapestry weaver, longtime knitter, and 2013 graduate of Concordia University's Fibres and Material Practices program. In her art practice Janna combines textiles and socially engaged media. She founded VY in 2008.