I will readily admit that miles and miles of stockinette knitting could just bore me to tears, even though I love to knit. I think I would prefer miles and miles of garter stitch even....
However, the knits I love to wear are often solid-colored, rather plain and fading into the background in their character.... I can't quite reconcile this. I am attracted to wild and crazy yarns, but solid t-shirts and jeans, and seem to only wear skirts in summer these days.
I was looking ahead last month, to all of the knitting time I would have while listening to lectures during my permaculture design course, and also looking at my stash, since the budget was pretty much depleted. What did I have and what should I make. I had stashed some wonderful bright teal green Cascade Sierra a few years ago, purchasing all we had in stock at Fibers back when I attended Bonnie's Color Harmonies workshop. This was MY green, vibrant and full of life, and someday I would figure out what to make with it. Then, when the winter edition of Interweave Knits came out, I thought about using the yarn for an updated Icelandic sweater (called Icelandic Star - Ravelry link) featured in the issue. I had picked up three contrasting colors, also from my personal palette, so that I could make the pattern... sage green, dark brown and pink (the pink is fudging a bit, since the one I need is much more deep blush pink than the one Cascade makes, but close enough!). I even started swatching up some of the green, knowing I had about one extra skein's worth if I were to make a colored yoke.... and then I discovered this pattern on Ravelry, from the Winter 2009 Knitty. It spoke to me, both as a sweater I would love to wear and as one that I could probably make while concentrating on serious and studious matters....
So, here's my version of how to knit a stockinette sweater...
Start with yarn and a pattern you love and BE SURE to swatch.
I couldn't get the gauge I wanted but was good enough on the calculator to figure out which one of the sizes in the pattern matched the gauge I was getting, and then marked the directions throughout before starting.
Knit and knit for miles while listening to fascinating lectures for 12 days, stopping periodically to take notes.
When you catch a mistake, rip out immediately, and dive in and re-knit without regret... I was so interested in what I was learning that I sailed six inches past where a buttonhole should have gone on the body.... not to worry, this is fast and easy stockinette. I ripped back that evening and was all caught back up by the end of the next day of lectures.
Carry along stitch markers, extra needles, stitch holders, etc., so that you can move smoothly to the next step, no matter what it might be.... one day, we had to shift our course timetable around to avoid being pelted by ice and hail, and I was able to knit a whole sleeve up to the point where I would join together for the yoke. Sleeve #2 took two half-days of lectures.... you see the pattern here.
Be willing to improvise here and there. The colored yoke of this pattern was originally designed to show off flashy bits of handspun, and I had three colors from the same line of yarn instead. I chose an order for them, but when I accidentally left part of the yarn at home one day, quickly made a decision to switch orders so that I could use what I had with me... after all, I had already carefully chosen four colors that I loved and that I loved together, right!?
Can you tell? Maybe, if you look closely, or have a more distinct sense of order than me, or than the designer.... however, there is still symmetry and balance here. And, all of the parts are assembled! Now, try to concentrate on the more challenging part of the pattern, while listening and taking notes... isn't this fun?
Bask for a few moments in the glory when your fellow students notice you will likely have a sweater completed by the time the course is finished... ah, the joys of being a knitter!
Keep close track, by checking off the colored rows on the pattern (that's why you printed it out!)
Whoops, too much basking! Go back three inches to pick up the spot where (yet, again!) you whizzed right on past where the seventh buttonhole was supposed to go, and were binding off when you noticed. Oh, well, no big deal really when you love to knit, right?!
Keep on knitting... the rows are getting shorter!
I did finish the class almost a week ago, and if it weren't for those pesky buttonholes, would have bound off the sweater yesterday afternoon.
Or, I might just go and take a bath. I do want to thank Ruinwin for the wonderful post about staying focused. There are UFOs to address, and new items clamoring, but I really AM going to finish this lovely sweater before anything else gets picked up!