A September Confession, or the Cinnamon Sweater Saga

by forumholitorium

The nuts are in jail again. Walnuts and a lone horse chestnut. You know what to do with walnuts; the horse chestnut is not for show but will be made into laundry detergent by TC according to his special recipe. We have three sources of walnuts this year, one of which has been providing quite large specimens that are easier to crack. Speaking of walnuts, the head and tip of the snout of the terrifying wooly beastie living on our couch that was surprised and captured on film below are made of wool hand dyed with walnut hulls. The cinnamon color will look good on TC, who has been waiting patiently for a sweater for nearly a year now.

The Cinnamon Sweater Saga

At a market in the fair Styrian town of Stainz, we oohed and aahed at the silky alpaca and soft merino wares in beautiful shades that would look good on everyone but me. TC found the cinnamon wool to his liking and we bought the whole lot of it. I started in on the tightly gauged pattern a few weeks later. After finishing the back and making a few calculations, my heart sank: there would not be enough yarn.

There followed months of agonizing, procrastinating, feeling guilty about not having knit TC another sweater when nearly all his old ones were falling apart. Then one day, I had the idea to make a sweater at a looser gauge and in the round. I remeasured and cast on and made it all the way up to the armholes before the record player slowed down and came to a halt. No, the way forward did not require electricity, just a little bit of courage and simple math. And important decision making.

Pattern or improvisation? Sleeves knit in the round or flat? Sleeves separate and sewed in or joined to the body and finished as a raglan in the round?

More procrastination, an even guiltier conscience that I was not clothing my husband properly when I actually have the ability to, and lots of other finished projects. Having survived a few knitting catastrophes (nearly finished items that turned out wrong and needing to be put out of their misery or repaired), I decided it was time to either frog or finish up what I had started so as to make room for new projects that I hope will have less tormented trajectories. Fortified by reading excerpts from Elizabeth Zimmerman books, I picked up the cinnamon sweater again last night, started to count and figured out how many stitches to start out with on the sleeves (48) and how many I will need where the sleeve connects to the body (64) – which naturally took far less time than expected. No calculus involved here.

The saga is ongoing, and only the fates know how it will end, but since the fates in the German-speaking world (i.e. the Norns) spend a fair share of their time knitting, I am betting on a happy ending. Keep your fingers crossed.

As a counterpoint to the aforementioned Zimmerman style raglan based on the percentage system, I am making wild and crazy beet colored nether garments (see the snout of the wooly beast) as described in The Knitter’s Almanac in the September chapter. Related to the much more common German nieder, meaning lower, nether is a lovely sounding old English word that has mostly fallen out of favor and been replaced by the more prosaic “under.” We’ll need wild and wooly clothing to brave the cold rainy peaks of Hohe Tauern National Park, where we hope to escape the beady eyes of the hungry deer chomping away on the foliage outside the window.

Happy knitting and nut collecting!