This is the story of a sweater, but it starts with the story of another sweater … and then two more: All The Sweaters!
Almost three years ago now, I stumbled on a picture of a beautiful sweater on Instagram – the Turka Bluesky from Natela Astakhova. I love the colors she chose and the complexity of the colorwork and decided I needed to have the pattern even though her posts and most of her patterns were in Russian. Around the same time, a knitting friend received a windfall of yarn from a woman who had reached the age when she could no longer knit. Essentially, this woman sent her stash to my friend and, after looking at the pattern, my friend was sure she had yarn that would work for it.
Alas, after swatching, I didn’t get the required gauge. The yarn my friend gave me also wasn’t quite the right color – I realized that I needed to get yarn from the designer’s shop, Natela Datura, all the way in Moscow. But first, I needed to help my friend out and knit up the yarn she had offered me.
I chose the Starfall Sweater and then the Seachange Sweater by Jennifer Steinglass aka Knit.Love.Wool. I dyed some of the yarn for the Seachange sweater; it was a mustard yellow and turned into a deep green. I loved making both of these sweaters but I gave them away as I tend to wear cardigans most, which is ironic because the Turka Bluesky is a pullover and so is the Sapphire, the other sweater pattern I got from Natela Datura. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
Having finished two sweaters, I finally ordered and got started on the Turka Bluesky. It’s knit from the bottom up; the body and sleeves are joined before the yoke begins. The back has short rows to raise it/lower the front, but the most exciting part of the sweater is the yoke. However, first there was the matter of properly casting on for 2×2 ribbing at the cuffs (tubular cast-on) and a few rounds of colorwork. That’s followed by miles and miles of stockinette until you reach the yoke – all that gorgeous colorwork!
When I got to the yoke I was so excited to finally be knitting it that I got a little sloppy. Also, it was fingering weight yarn on size ___ needles, so the yoke started with over 200 stitches – a lot to manage and keep straight. Stitches were dropped, mistakes were made. I picked up some stitches but didn’t even notice a few others until I had bound off and there was no way I was going to rip back down and pick them up, not with up to 3 colors in each row, so I tacked them down and have hoped that no one will notice the jogs and mis-matched bits of the pattern. So far no one has noticed; I think the yarn is so fine it’s really hard to see where the missing stitches might be.
Also, I realized just before starting the yoke that I would need another ball of the main color to finish the sweater. I wasn’t going to order just one ball of yarn that would come all the way from Moscow – I mean, when you’re ordering from that far away, you have to get more! Browsing Natela Datura, I found the Sapphire Sweater kit and decided that since the Turka Bluesky had gone so well, I could translate Sapphire (only available in Russian) and figure out the sweater from there.
I finished Turka Bluesky and took a break from sweater knitting by working on some coasters and hats made with my handspun yarn – I suppose I should post about those separately lest this turn into a knitting epic.
When I was ready to start the Saphhire, I realized my mistake: instructions were printed and sent to me, not emailed and, as I knew, they were in Russian. I tried a few things to use Google Translate anyway – it turns out, an iPhone X can scan a document with the camera (which I did) that can then be turned into a PDF, and Acrobat Pro can turn that PDF into editable text. Unfortunately I don’t have the right font or characters to copy and paste Russian and Acrobat didn’t recognize all of the characters so I was left with my option of last resort: asking for help.
I’m lucky to work with a couple from Moldova who speak Russian and who were willing to help me translate the pattern. Really, all I needed to know is how many stitches to cast on and I figured I’d be able to figure it out from there. Two weeks ago, I asked one of them for help; he read the first page of instructions in the pattern which includes the number of stitches to cast on and how many to increase after the yoke chart is complete. I may ask him for help with the second page, which describes how to knit the body and sleeves, or I may just wing it.
I cast on using I-cord cast-on and by last Saturday had knit more than half the yoke when I discovered a dropped stitch. I tried ripping back to the offending row but should have tinked back – I lost the beginning of the round and also pulled the blue out one extra row in one section. I can read knitting pretty easily, especially cable work, but two-color knitting proved too hard for me and I frogged the whole yoke (or most of it, really – frogged until I lost my patience).
I’ve started over again after a few more false starts. With the I-cord cast-on, my first row of knitting was too loose.
I tried going down to a US size 0 only to realize the I-cord was too tight. So I went up to a US size 2 and tried it again – nope. And the first row stitches for both were still loose compared to the gauge of the I-cord. So I ripped it all out and did tubular cast-on, which I’m much more familiar with and it has worked out beautifully with a few extra rows of blue to compensate for the edge curling – it’s all stockinette, after all.
I was thinking about writing a post about cast-on methods; would any of you be interested in that? I’m sure it’s been done before many times and in many ways, so I’m not sure how much value I could add. Let me know in the comments!