Friday, November 21, 2014

Incan inspiration

  When we were in Peru several years ago, I acquired some beautiful weavings including this bag.
The quality of weaving and natural dyeing in Peru is amazing. As a former weaver, I am in awe of the weavings they create with the simplest of technology.
   Starting in Peru, I acquired the questionable habit of buying a ball or two of alpaca yarn in colors that appealed to me whenever I found them. This is probably the silliest way there is to begin to design a sweater. Finally I chose yarn from my stash and knit a sweater for myself combining stripes and waves. The wave motif is very common in Peruvian textiles and easy to transfer to knitting even though it's far less detailed than in fine weavings.
    I used bands of wave patterns and for my larger motif I designed a double wave inside a tilted rectangle.
   Many of my sweaters evolve as I knit them. For example, I often decide what to put on the sleeves once I get there. Instead of doing all kinds of math to figure out the sleeve decreases I lay out a sweater I like and put the new sleeve on top of it. Then I do my decreases to make it the same shape. As I knit the first sleeve I record what I do so I can make the second sleeve the same way.
   As I was sitting around admiring my handiwork on my almost completed sweater, I noticed a big boo-boo on the front where stitches in one row went astray. You can probably see it right away. (In this picture it's on the top wave band on the right side.) How did I not see that when I knit it!? Perhaps I was watching TV.
Fortunately there was an easy way to fix that with duplicate stitch.
Now I could show the front in public without being embarrassed.
I used steeks for the arm holes and the front band. After I cut the front steek I picked up stitches and knit the bands and their facings. Anything other than a zipper would have interfered with the pattern on the front bands. I found a company on-line that sells lightweight separating zippers in a plethora of colors so I was able to buy one that matched my band color very closely. Mr. Rududu drilled some small holes in that heavy plastic part at the bottom of the zipper so I could sew it down by hand.
  The sleeves are slightly inset for a better fit. After setting aside a few stitches for the underarm, I added my steek and decreased a stitch every other row for a couple of inches on each side of the steek. After grafting the shoulders, I cut the steek and picked up stitches around the arm hole. The sleeves were knit down to the cuffs and finished with a facing, as were the collar and bottom band. Purling two rows before the facing makes for a very neat edge. By the way, I started the sweater with a provisional cast on and added the lower band after I had decided what the bands would be like. All part of my "method".
  Most people use patterns and I've heard that people who design their own sweaters generally plan them out in advance. These people lead far less exciting lives than I. Failure to plan ahead can lead to exciting trips to the local yarn store in search of something very specific.  Perhaps the ladies at the yarn store wondered why I hadn't just bought all the yarn specified in the pattern. Wait a second. What pattern?
But now I do have a pattern. I'm so smitten with the feel of the alpaca and the lovely colors available I plan to continue collecting colors and some day I will turn to Peru for more inspiration.


TECHknitter said...

very very pretty! said...

I like your bag! It is really pretty. Nice pattern inspired by Peru.