• Brave Little Buckaroo

The Trouble with Whitmoor

Updated: May 18

Please allow me to preface this post with the following: There is nothing wrong with Whitmooor. The pattern is wonderfully thorough. The construction is clever and effective. The finished piece (I hope) will be absolutely beautiful.

So why don’t I want to work on it?!

Let me start at the beginning.

I cast on the Whitmoor Cardigan (Ravelry link) by Ami Lowden back in June 2021. I had fallen in love with the design the moment I saw it, and I’d spent quite a long time waiting for the perfect combination of yarns to reveal themselves to me. It is knit with one strand of fingering weight yarn and one strand of mohair held together throughout, so the possibilities are truly endless. I was looking for something subtle, but not plain. Either a lightly speckled or variegated fingering with a solid mohair, or possibly the other way around, but I had a very clear vibe in my mind.

At the Toodyay Fibre Festival that year, I came across the stall of hand dyed yarn business Threaded Embrace. They had many lovely things, but this multi coloured confetti speckled merino really jumped out at me. It was just what I wanted for my Whitmoor. Slightly more elevated and interesting than a plain solid colour, but subtle enough not to be too bright or juvenile. (Bright and juvenile are great, but not what I had in mind for this particular piece.) I also knew the addition of a strand of mohair would tone it down even further. The variety of colours in the speckles meant I could go in pretty much any direction with the mohair, but even before I found the speckles, I was always (I am always) leaning towards blue.

A bit of research into what was available locally led me to find this gorgeous icy-blue-slightly-grey mohair and silk confection by Shibui, appropriately named Glacier, which I picked up from Calico and Ivy about an hour away from where I live. It’s always a bit of an effort to find exactly what you want AND find it available (fairly) locally AND find enough of it for an entire sweater all at once, but the Knitting Fairies must have sprinkled all their magic dust upon me that day because I got the Holy Trifecta. I’ll be honest, this sweater is... an Investment. But my husband and I each have a little monthly Pocket Money Budget and on that day I happened to have some of mine saved up. The Whitmoor is clearly the most amazing, complex, beautiful Knitted Thing I have ever attempted, so I was prepared go all in.

I must admit that I did hesitate slightly when I realised the pattern calls for five different sets of needles (one long circular needle for the body, a smaller size needle for the ribbing, short circulars for the sleeves, and two different sizes of DPNs; one for the button band that is worked along the edges as you go, and one for the cuffs of the sleeves). It seemed an overwhelming number of needles for one little cardigan, even a very special one (and again, a bit of an investment, as I had to traipse all over Perth to three different shops to find the four sets that I didn't already own). My confidence wavered, but I had been committed to this project since before the pattern was even released, so I pressed on.

Now, I love knitting that is complex and engaging. Intricate lace patterns in long repeats where every row is different really get me excited. The yoke of the Whitmoor was great for this. The way the lace emerged and grew as I knit each row was so fascinating to me, and I could hardly believe I was responsible for creating something so beautiful.

I also enjoy knitting that is rhythmic and simple. Long swathes of stockinette stitch that can be done in front of the TV or while maintaining a conversation are so calming and relaxing to me. Once Whitmoor’s lovely lace yoke is done, it’s just miles and miles of stockinette until you get to the bottom ribbing, so it should also be great for this. Admittedly, the holding of two yarns together does require a bit more concentration - I’ve had to go back and pick up the odd strand of mohair that I accidentally missed here and there - but that’s not a deal breaker for me.

I mean, look at it.

So what IS the problem?

Friends, it’s the DPNs. (AKA: The Devil’s Bastard Toothpicks.) I hate them. I hate them with the fire of a thousand suns and the depth of deepest, darkest hell. I hate them so much that they are literally ruining this cardigan for me. Yes, the lace is fascinating and engaging. The long stockinette body is simple and soothing. The yarn combination is the softest, fluffiest stuff that dreams are made of. I want to knit it always. But in order to create the button band as you go, the first and last ten stitches of each row are done on DPNs while the circular needle for the main body is flopping around everywhere and getting in the way. And then you switch back to knitting on the circular needle, which is great, but for the first and last 20 or so stitches of each row you’ve got those bloody DPNs poking and stabbing and getting all tangled up in somehow every direction all at once and its absolute fecking torture! I hate them!

I hate them.

This is not to say that they’re not doing their job. They clearly are. The button band looks fantastic, even with my limited skills. This is my first cardigan, so I’ve never tried to pick up stitches and apply a button band after the fact, but I imagine that method of construction has its own set of challenges that may or may not be even less enjoyable than this set of challenges. Either way, I have no complaints about the overall destination of the thing. But friends, I gotta say, I am not loving the journey.

At the time of writing, I have about twenty more rows of the body left to do. And then there’s the sleeves. I have never knit anything with long sleeves before, so Sleeve Island will be another new adventure for me. I am hoping for the kind of island that is more Margaritas and Pool Boys and less Cannibals and Jungle Snakes. But at least (until the ribbing anyway) there won’t be any Devil’s Bastard Toothpicks.

Wish me luck.

Tell me about your Knitting Nemesis. Is it DPNs? I bet it's DPNs. They're the worst.

Okay. I love you. Bye.xo


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