On Tuesday, I realized that the yarn was just not going to finish Pie Man. I was at a loss. I knew that I could gain a bit more yarn by reknitting the sleeves in stockinette but would it be enough? I was smart enough to realize that I needed some help, so it was off to The Yarn Lounge.
The generous and talented Melanie and Stewart were there to help me along with many other knitters who had helpful and creative suggestions. Make it a vest? How about 3/4 sleeves? Contrasting yarn? Pillows? And then a suggestion from someone (Stewart, what was your friend's name??) who is a knitwear designer: create a yoke on only the front with a contrasting color separated from the main design with a band of fair isle. Brilliant.
Stewart immediately picked out the perfect pumpkin color (from one of the flecks in the green tweed yarn). It was excellent. I was still on the fence about the yoke and the band of fair isle -- I thought it would look great, but how would it work? What would the shoulder seam look like? What pattern would I use for the band? What color for the collar? What stitch for the yoke? Should I rework the cuffs in the pumpkin?
"I can knit, but I can't design," I said, only to be quickly corrected by the designer. "You had made design decisions before you walked through the door. You knew you didn't want to tear out, create a vest, or make pillows. You knew which colors you didn't want and the one that you did. You are designing." She said that designing is all about making decisions, all she did was provide the input and everyone needs that. Wow.
This interchange with her opened a door for me. Just as Liz had defined herself before the Shawl Collar Cardie as a "follow-the-pattern" knitter, I had defined myself as 1) terrible with colors, 2) completely without style sense, and 3) unable to design a garment. It turns out that Liz was previously wrong about her design-on-the-fly abilities (you are really quite talented!) ... and maybe I have grown beyond my previous limitations as well.
When I got home from TYL, I got out my books and found an inspiration sweater in Fiona Ellis' Inspired Cable Knits: Evolving Traditions. I could see the sweater adapting and transforming now ...
However, Ellis' sweater had 3 colors, so I pulled out an oatmeal yarn that could work in the pattern, but then nixed it -- too bright and didn't seem to make sense with the rest of the Pie Man. I changed her pattern a bit to accomodated the two colors instead of three and went to work.
The band of fair isle looked wonderful! Sadly however, after finishing it, I realized that I had not done any decreases to take into account the switch from the cables to the band. Out came 2 inches of knitting. I knit a decrease row: decreasing 10 st, 1 per cable and 2 for each of the center 8st cables. In hindsight, I should have decreased maybe 2 more, but I fudged a bit on the seaming.
I knitted above the band in double moss (the sleeves are double moss in the green) and immediately started seaming the shoulders so that I could experiment with the collar. Oops! After seaming the right shoulder, I discovered that I had mistakenly knitted seed stitch for 4 rows on the right side instead of the double moss. (I knitted that while I was supervising the children raking leaves, no big surprise that I made a mistake!) Out came the seam, out came the seed stitch.
My finishing work is often sloppy, but I really focused this time -- unsure of how the arm and shoulder seams would look.
Here is the final product:
Pumpkin Pie Man
Pattern: Pie Man by Kim Hargreaves with adaptations by me and inspiration by Evolving Traditions by Fiona Ellis
Yarn: Aran Tweed by Kilcarra of Donegal and O-Wool Classic (saffron). The O-Wool is something incredible! Certified organic merino yarn ... soft, scrumptious colors, and a joy on the needles.
Needles: US 5s straight and US 7s circular
Modifications: See above!
I realized how much I loved growing with this project when I thought, "If I found a magical extra skein of the Aran Tweed, I would still go ahead with the pumpkin yoke pattern." Thank you mystery knitwear designer for your wise words ... Glenda the Good Witch from The Wizard of Oz couldn't have said it any better!
*Update 11/13/06: My mystery knitwear designer is Cindy Taylor. Thank you Cindy!