March 5, 2015

Hela Sweater

After knitting my first sweater in only eight days and having very sore hands as a consequence, I told myself I would never try to beat my time record. But just how I swore I would never beat my record of 8 hats in one day and then promptly beat it two years later on a very long transcontinental plane flight (the record is now 14 hats), oops, I broke my sweater record over winter break this year. 


This is the right sweater to hold the new record, though. The bulky yarn and size 10 needles get the job done lickety-split. 



Just like the Greenfield Cardigan, it was a random knitter's image on Pinterest that made the pattern appeal to me. The pattern is from an Icelandic yarn company called Lopi. Icelandic wool yarns are legendary, not to mention the gorgeous indigenous fair-isle colorwork as well. And as an extra bonus, the pattern is free!



I waited several months to make the sweater once I found the pattern. I assumed that I would be using quality yarn to make this, but when I was at Michaels right before Christmas to buy yarn for the wine cozy, there were over a dozen colors of Lion Brand's Lion Pride Woolspun on sale that I simply could not resist. I justified the mediocre quality by confirming that there is some wool in the acrylic blend--the wool would allow the sweater to block, and the acrylic guarantees that it won't be excessively itchy to my wool-sensitive skin.


I kept basic color theory principles in mind to make sure the different colors together would not be "muddy." It is important for the colors to be distinct both in hue (color) and value (darkness). Clearly, the colors I chose differ in hue, but to verify contrast in value, I took a picture of the yarns together in black and white. It is clear that the grey has a lower value than the mahogany, which has a lower value than the navy. After this verification, I knew the colorwork would stand out.





Now that I had all my supplies together, all I needed was a nice long road trip where I could nest in the backseat and knit away. Luckily enough, the annual New Years LA road trip to catch up with family catered to my every desire and that, my friends, is how I knit this sweater up in four days flat.

The only other challenge was the zipper--and my, that was a challenge. The process for inserting the zipper is to literally cut through the knitted fabric and then sew the zipper in. Although I heavily reinforced the sides of where I cut with my sewing machine, there was still a very real risk for the entire thing to unravel and progress was slow. Another challenge is that knitted fabric is inherently stretchy and therefore difficult to line both sides up exactly. I ended up offsetting the yoke pattern by about a centimeter, but imperfections are just a part of the process. The zipper also puckers a bit, which is probably a consequence of not lining up the two sides perfectly together. 


Zipper challenges aside, the sweater was a fast knit and an appreciated addition to my winter wardrobe. I could easily see myself making this again for someone else.

For more details on this project, check out my Ravelry project page.

Happy Crafting!!
--Elizabeth

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