This cardigan is not yet finished. I brought it to the canyon this weekend and furiously worked on the embroidery in between climbs. But when the day wrapped up, and the sun was about to dip behind the horizon, it was time to take pictures, dammit, finished or not. It's close enough that I call victory.
The story behind this sweater stretches back to two summers ago, when I visited Nan Kennedy at her glorious Maine farm. I bought two skeins of beautiful, pumpernickel-brown wool and one skein of gray/green/ochre dyed wool, intending to make small accessories.
But this is special yarn. Raised on Maine pastures. Solar-dyed with seawater and earthy pigments. Infused with the energy of an amazing woman. And so I decided I wanted to turn it into a garment that was just as substantial and artisanal.
Figuring out just what that would be, however, was a very winding, very non-linear process.
The reality of my yardage constraints led to certain design choices: the precise tailoring, deep square neck, and stockinette fabric were meant to economize on yarn, while the top-down construction meant that I could literally knit until the yarn ran out, and even decide mid-project whether it would turn into a vest or a cardigan.
The wilder design elements -- the asymmetry, the hidden hook-and-eye closures, the short-row sleeve caps, the embroidered fern -- emerged more organically, sometimes even unexpectedly. For example, I initially swatched a leaf pattern to run down the front. The asymmetry came in as a way to showcase that colorwork, but I liked it so much that I kept the asymmetry even after dropping the leaf colorwork section.
This kind of "emergent design" made space for beautiful serendipity. But it also had its troubles, most notoriously during my fitful attempts to figure out the shoulder (basically, the yoke didn't produce enough fabric to fully cover the shoulders, so I experimented until I was ready to scream with short rows, increases/decreases, needle size changes, etc to get that shoulder shaped in the right way).
I still have to finish the embroidery ... and I suspect I'm going to rip it all out and start it fresh, with a straighter fern ... but that may be left to another day.
P.S. The dress, if you're curious, is an organic cotton and hemp tube dress from gaiaconceptions. Eco chic for the urban nomad.