knit | spin

Enchanted Bendigo

January 7, 2015

IMG_5760First finished thing for 2015…Yipppppppeeeeeee!

Oh glory, oh goodness, I am so very, very happy with this sweater. It was a pleasure to plan, to spin, to knit and to wear…despite the heat, despite the humidity. I revel in its glorious splendiferousness.

This is Enchanted Bendigo, my version of Enchanted Mesa by the wildly genius Stephen West.  I stumbled over this design by chance on the penultimate episode of Cast On by Brenda Dayne.  I think this may be my souvenir of that most enjoyable and ponderable of podcasts.  Brenda was talking about the one she was knitting and I was looking up stuff as I listened when…whoa…something I had never seen in sweater construction popped up on the screen and into my heart.

This is such a joyful, exuberant design. It dispenses with traditional shaping and pushes short rows all over the place. I think Enchanted Mesa is rightfully the love child of Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Baby Surprise Jacket.  Both of them are designs provoke disbelief in their bizarre shape during knitting. And both are works of wit and intelligence that astound with the brilliance and resolution of their construction. They both celebrate the wonders of garter stitch and look marvelous in handspun.

IMG_4882The colourway came together at the Australian Sheep and Wool Show in 2014.  I was on my shop local quest and bought the Tarndie Polwarth sport and the Fairfield Finns indigo fibre in worthy support of local farmers but without a project in mind.  Then I came upon an impossibly beautiful plait of Angel Bunny at the Ixchel stall and suddenly all the yarn and fibre made sense as an Enchanted Mesa.

It was so easy and quick to spin the Ixchel Angel Bunny. Cottage industry Angora rabbit, tencel, BLF and cashmere goat, it was soft as a cloud and even as a worsted spun was full of airy bounce.  I split the braid down middle and spun singles for a 2 ply that lined up the colour changes and it did so most attractively.

IMG_3618The Fairfield Finns indigo dyed Finnsheep top spun up in joy also. This is I did as a 3 ply as this is my preferred number of plies for knitting.  It makes a round, even yarn that looks great even in swathes of stockinette.

As a suite of next-to-the-skin Victorian grown yarns/fibres, I thought them pretty marvelous. And not a merino among them!

Annotated EnchantedAh, and then the sublime joy of the knitting. There is so much room in this design to let your yarn whisper its ways to you. The sweater almost knits itself.

The sizes of this sweater, again similar to the Baby Surprise Jacket are achieved using different yarns at different gauges rather than altering stitch counts. Following the size guide for my bust plus a good few inches of ease, I knit a sportsweight one on 3.75mm needles and the fit is contoured but not tight. A DK version would be perfect for a comfortable, drapey winter pullover for me.