Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sandridge: Origins

I'm very fortunate to have two young adult kids who enjoy wearing my knits. Perhaps I've just trained them to wear sweaters, but I like to think it's because I listen when they tell me what they want. When my son, James, announced that he really wanted a zip-front jacket, I cringed--in part because he would be leaving for the start of his third year at the University of Toronto in only a week, and in part because zippers really weren't my thing. I'd made the mistake of showing James the photo of Jared Flood wearing his version of Paton's Urban Aran. James thought he'd look totally cool wearing it, and I did too, but I had concerns:
1. James hasn't inherited his father's height; he's about 5'9". Respectable, even average, but sometimes it's hard to get sweaters to be an absolutely perfect fit if they're knit in pieces. The sleeves might be just a little too long. Ditto the body, and it's a major hassle to change things knitted in pieces, especially once you've started the sewing. I wanted a top-down design so that he could try it on as I knitted.
2. I also wanted cables, but not too many. The jacket had to be interesting to knit, but not too interesting to look at, because guys generally don't want to stand out.
3. I wanted to complete the whole thing in one week. I wanted a fairly easy, quick knit.
4. I was prepared to deal with the 2-way zipper, but I was determined to insert it in such a way that it would be easy, neat, and the teeth of the zipper wouldn't show. I'll blog more about the zipper insertion in another post.
Next, I thought about where James would be wearing his new jacket. The University of Toronto is broken down into colleges. James is a student of Trinity College. Trin's Strachan (pronounced Stron) Hall is a beautiful dark grey stone building in the gothic style. If you look closely up near the roof, you can see stone snakes zigzagging back and forth just under the eaves--at least, I think they look like snakes. So,the sweater was born in time for the first cool weather of the season.
While it was being created, I tried it on myself, just out of curiosity. I loved the way the cables made me feel taller and thinner (always a good thing), but I wanted room for my hips and a longer, more feminine silhouette. Soon I had a twin version for myself. I wore it with everything and everywhere, particularly when I went walking on the grassy heath along Sandridge Road near our then home in Ottawa.
Then, the Christmas season rolled around and Isabel, my daughter requested a version, but more fitted, please. She's very petite, even bird-like. So, this time I made the jacket fitted to the waist and found some ancient, Rowan buttons from my stash that looked unusually well with the purple heather wool Isabel had chosen.
Three sweaters, related, but each with its own personality.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


The vines are gone--and the raccoons and squirrels. I think the latter are expressing their anger by tearing apart my pots of annuals on the back deck. They've attacked one pot in particular with a viciousness which has surprised us-- not just digging into the soil, but tearing out the plants and tossing them onto the ground with their bare roots exposed. I tried re-planting them, but to no avail. They ended up torn out again the next morning.
Work on my shawl is progressing enough to show off. The pattern is my own "MacKay", a pattern written to use as a teaching tool for a beginner lace class. The yarn is Briggs and Little's Sport 1 Ply in Sheep's Grey. The shawl is partially blocked. I'm fond of placing all the stitches of a project on a length of yarn and wet blocking the whole thing in order to gauge the finished size, drape, etc. The blocked yarn is soft and warm and I love the way the mix of heathered shades gives it depth. There was a moment in the photographing of this when the attached skein came dangerously close to falling from the third-floor balcony to the ground below. I suppose I would have had to throw the shawl down too. Good thing there were no passers by...
But the chief news of the day is that Twist Collective's Fall issue is out today! Check it out at I feel privileged to be part of such a quality publication. I'll blog later in the week about the inspiration for my project, Sandridge, shown here on my son, James.