Academia July 5, 2011Posted by Fiona in Big things, Craftiness, Durham, Knitting, Look what I did, Patterns, Sheer bloody-mindedness, University.
It seems fitting that, now that I’ve left Durham altogether – and that they’ve moved the law library to a totally different site to where it used to be – that I should finally be publishing a pattern inspired by weeks and weeks sat in that very library.
I actually had the idea for this cardigan in a café in Lancaster last summer. I was sat there for a few hours with not a lot to do but read, knit and let my coffee get cold – the best kind of afternoon. A girl opposite me was wearing a cardigan with a similar sort of back detail and I wondered how one might go about knitting something like that.
It came to me not all that long afterwards, and I knitted up a prototype which is notable only in the fact that it is made of blue Wollmeise, which was lovely, but other than that was totally hideous. It didn’t fit. I couldn’t fit my arms into the sleeves. Everything about it was too tight, or bulged, or drooped, and it had buttons which were far too heavy for it. Anyway, I thought I could do without buttons. I’m not surprised it ended up like this – I had knitted a grand total of most of one cardigan in my entire life by that point, and had really no idea what I was doing. It was a bit of a learning curve.
This year, I have become a far better knitter. I’ve met the concepts of ease, and drape, and what might actually look any good, and I’m so proud of what this has turned into. I named it Academia, after something else that it has taken a lot of effort and trial and error to get the hang of, that I’ve spent a lot of time at, and that quite frankly I love to bits. This sample was knitted mostly over the second term of this year: cast on in the green room of the Gala theatre before the matinee of The Producers, knitted on during my high points and my low points and as a bit of a distraction from work – and, yes, in the law library. It was finished within about two days of my dissertation, and I love it and wear it often.
The thing I’m most proud of about it is that my test knitters also loved knitting it, and that it looks fantastic on all of them. If you’re on Ravelry, you can see their cardigans here, and I’m so pleased that it seems to fit different body shapes and sizes so well. Several of them are already knitting a second one in different yarn, or intend to do so. And, of course, the banter was the best of any test-knitting group I’ve come across so far. I fell on my feet with that one.
Oh, and one more thing – remember August of last year, when I said that the thing I aspired to most in the field of knitting was to design my own cardigan? So do I. Just goes to show, doesn’t it, that it’s really not all that complicated when you put your mind to it, and that it’s just a case of having your idea and going at it like you think it’s important.
If you can knit in the round, and do left- and right- slanting decreases (which if you knit I bet you can), then you can knit this with no difficulty at all. The pattern on the back makes it go faster, too – and it really is ridiculously simple to do. Don’t be put off by the fact that it’s short rows, they’re laughably simple and you’ll have them down to a fine art in an inch or two.
There’s a fair bit of I-cord, but I swear that’s it. And besides, I don’t know about you, but I think I-cord looks rather good.