It was a Friday night in late May, and I was feeling reckless. I was, ahem, ensconced on my couch, surrounded by knitting projects, when I spotted a testing call from Thea Colman for her updated version of White Russian. I loved the sweater and thought I had the perfect yarn for it, so I dug for the details. Testers were about to be chosen, and they’d have about a month to complete the sweater. DK-weight, cropped, no seaming … in the abstract a month sounded doable. But I have a slightly-less-than-three-foot-tall reason I’ve not anything that quickly in recent memory. And yet. The sweater was so gorgeous. The yarn I had in mind so perfect. I threw caution to the wind and sent in an email with the details for applying. I was then thrilled (and slightly panicked!) when I received a reply from Thea telling me the pattern would be with me soon!
What followed was a mostly pleasant lesson in what can be accomplished when knitting monogam-ishly. While I didn’t finish the sweater in exactly a month, I did finish before the testing period ended … helped by the fact that it got extended by a week. There were no late night pushes, there was no stress (helped by the fact that Thea was super kind about the deadlines, letting us know she understood if something changed for us!), just an almost single-minded focus on getting a sweater I know I’ll wear tons Done.
So I have to say, when July 5 rolled around (the day before the pattern release) and I was able to send a photo of my nearly dried sweater to the test knit group, I was feeling pretty proud. And this is where my brilliant, sweater in just about a month plan fell at the final hurdle. As I moved the sweater to take a photo, I realized that I’d put the clever short rows the pattern suggests to lengthen the back at the front of the sweater. Doh!
That small hiccup aside though, I was still really proud to get this done in good time. I was still able to give Thea the info she needed from testers about yardage, etc.. And pretty much as soon as the sweater was dried, I chopped off the bottom (I couldn’t bear to unpick the sewn cast off I’d done) and reknit the short rows and rib quickly. And now I have a sweater I absolutely love!
This is a top down sweater with a simple lace pattern on the body and some really nice details. The lace repeat was simple (you only pattern on 1 round out of 4) but really engaging … checking off lace repeats was really satisfying! Short rows raise the back neck, and I really like the rib detail at the side though I forgot to ask Mr. N to take a photo of it, so this is as good as it gets:
The pattern includes instructions for a cropped and full-length version, and I opted to make the cropped version. I love a good cropped sweater, but quite a few of the ones I make flap awkwardly at the back. Thea’s included some decreases and optional short rows to give a better cropped fit, and I really liked these additions. I’ll use both of them the next time I’m planning to knit a cropped sweater! (And again, I’ve realized I didn’t get a full on photo of the back .. but hopefully you can see how nicely it hangs from some of these photos!)
Since this was a test, and I liked the sample version so much, I knit the pattern pretty much as written. I removed an inch from the suggested cropped body length to get a sweater that hit, as Thea suggested, at the smallest part of my waist. And the De Rerum Natura Gilliatt that I had my heart set on for the project was just a bit heavier than the suggested yarn. With permission, I picked one size smaller than I would have otherwise and knit it at a gauge of 21 sts/4 in.
And oh am I glad I finally knit with this yarn. I still remember when I got it, 6 (!) years ago. I was still living in Baltimore and I’d ordered the yarn directly from the French company … at the time, no one I could find was stocking De Rerum Natura yarns in the US. It was packaged beautifully, with dried lavender tied in little yarn bows, and I was sure I’d knit it up pretty much immediately. Since then, the grey sweater quantity and the sibling that arrived with it, a sweater’s worth of the beautiful Genet colorway, have sat patiently. I’ve assigned them to many sweaters in my mental queue and have even swatched for a few, but something has always gotten in the way.
I’m glad I finally found the perfect pattern for the Granit SQ. I love the fabric created by this yarn. I’ve knit garments in Ulysse and Cyrano, the sport and chunky-weight cousins to Gilliatt, and loved them, so it was no surprise to find that Gilliatt was just as lovely. The yarn is woollen spun, and beautifully heathered. The fabric is airy and lightweight, much lighter than some worsted-weight yarns I’ve knit with, but also definitely warm. I know this is going to be in very constant rotation just as soon as it’s sweater weather again! I have a bit more than 1 skein leftover, and some other expected Gilliatt remnants from a shawl I’ve picked back up, so I am hoping to make a stripey sweater for Willa later this year.
Massive thanks to Thea for letting me test out this fab pattern. Here’s a run down of the details:
Pattern: White Russian by Thea Colman
Yarn: De Rerum Natura Gilliatt in Granit (used just under 3 skeins)
Size: 1, but at a larger gauge to achieve measurements of 2; cropped version
Mods: 1″ less body length; knit entire project at 21 sts/4 in
Do you have any yarns that you keep planning to knit with, but are almost too nice to cast on? If so, go grab them and start something (and also, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!)