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The High Country Knitwear Newsletter


Are you done with the Christmas knitting? I just finished the last of mine, a gansey in Cascade’s Mason's sweater 220 Tweed, on #6s, in a size 44 extra long, bound for Tucson — yes, it gets cold there sometimes — and my friend William Mason. I like these sweaters, and this was not nearly as hard as it looks.

I used lots of markers to do the pattern set up row for the body, which could be discarded within the ten rows it took to catch the rhythm of it. I did the same with the sleeves, using the center motif of the body centered on the seam stitch for each shoulder. It also has a split and overlapped seed stitch hem, and “rig and furrow” cuffs— two rows of purl, two of knit, for a group of five, ending with purling two rows and binding off on the third. This gives it push-up sleeves, and there’s now ribbing anywhere--save for the neckline, which is wide--to stretch and sag or shrink.

These are great sweaters for gardeners, sailors, hikers, climbers, and anyone who works outdoors, because the general architecture, especially the long underarm gussets, give great freedom of movement without bulk. They are usually made shorter, but I love them in tunic length. I wouldn’t mind a casual dress made this way.

There’s a partial chart at the bottom of this entry, and a pair of detail shots below. If you want to make something similar, follow this chart, centering the zig-zag, and extend it to either side in the same sequence, according to how many stitches you need. Or use part of the chart for a great sock pattern, a scarf, or whatever.

Circular knitting with these patterns is easy, because the work always faces you. Knitting back and forth, as is required on the body once you’ve reached the armholes, is more difficult, but eminently do-able, again once you have the rhythm, which you do within a few rows. Small warning to people whose computers are failing: I know you save your files, but I also know that the only way to save your address book is to print it to file and then save that.

detail 1detail 2

Guess how I found that out?

My motherboard failed, and I had to buy a (rebuilt, second-hand) computer. It has some very nice bells and whistles, but I regret the death of the floppy disc, which I found very convenient. Instead it has a read/write CD/DVD drive, and a plethora of places to plug in for the camera, and the old hard drive (being cleaned up as a backup drive).

I was heartened by the number of you who checked in and found patterns both for things to make for the holidays, whether despite or because of the grim financial news that has broken over us, courtesy of people who have not figured out that reasonable supervision of the financial markets is necessary to rein in sheer speculation and outright fraud, people who have not figured out that you are not what you own but who you are and what values you bring to it, and too many people who only recently figured out that you shouldn’t spend money you don’t have. We have been on a long national binge of defining what we want as what we need, and that doesn’t make sense. Nothing cheered me up more than seeing The Sharper Image disappear, but expensive toys are everywhere.

When I was shopping for my daughter, who actually wanted a new roasting pan, in addition to some knitted things, I found myself staring at one that cost $330, and fled across the street from the kitchen specialty shop to the hardware store. Who buys a $330 roasting pan, and why? Does it go home in a Hummer to a McMansion with granite countertops and a Viking range? Holy cow!

I am looking for a quiet Christmas with my friend and our dogs, who love all holidays that are celebrated with food. Hot dogs and hamburgers on the Fourth of July! Turkey on Thanksgiving! Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding at Christmas! They would love best of all if my Scottish mother were around to make the New Year’s haggis that no one else would eat, though she always forbade feeding the dogs under the table. Why? The food’s there, the dogs are there, and what could be handier?

I wish you all a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hannukah, a Cheery Kwanzaa, a Splendid Solstice, or whatever is the festival of your choice. We are always glad, in this hemisphere, to know that the axis of the earth has swung back toward the sun, and that we’ll soon have more light. Now if it were just a little warmer….

Thank you for your support this year, now my third with the website. And special thanks to my daughter, Mollie, and my friends at Cascade, who encouraged this enterprise because they liked the work. If you need projects to take you through this winter, come on back and try some of the sweaters, using the Tips & Tricks section to help you.




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