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.




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  1. Oh my, this story and it’s product are completely magical. Cannot wait to see the jumper in person on the handsdown coolest grrrl on the whole damn internet. You blow my mind, truly.

  2. Oh and the colour matched paintwall for the photoshoot? You gotta make a record so these shots can go on the cover sis 🙂

  3. Absolutely superb, Rebecca! Stunning design and looks great on you, love your interpretation. Stephen West is such an original designer, I really enjoy his take on construction and colour. I’m astounded that you even spun the wool, as well as knit such a masterpiece!

  4. That is gorgeous! And super duper funky 🙂

    How does it feel to wear it? I’d have though wearing something unbalanced would feel weird?

    Very cool how you alternated the different wool breeds in different parts of the jumper.

    Well done!

  5. I think a sweater with such unique construction can be difficult to pull off well on many different body types, but it looks smashing on you! I think your pictures capture the joy this sweater gives you quite nicely. 🙂

  6. oh boy another one for the to knit list (I think I’ll need to be careful how frequently I visit this space if you keep this kind of knitting up) You got me at “rightfully the love child of Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Baby Surprise Jacket”. Your words glorious and exuberant describe your masterpiece well, Rebecca. Amazing job! xo

  7. Here I am supposed to be cleaning and instead am being mesmerized by your sweater!! And the choices for the yarns used!
    I do remember when you bought them thinking, hmmm. But you pulled it off brilliantly 🙂 You do look very good in it and like Heather, I wonder what it feels like to wear something so asymmetrical. OK, may we just need to get out more……..
    Thank you for the other links also. What cleaning???

  8. Truly a beautiful garment that suits you so well! The colour palette is just perfect. I am more than a little bit envious of your creativity and your spinning! I hope I can follow your lead one day.

  9. Love, love, love everything about this post – gorgeous sweater, gorgeous yarn, gorgeous photo shoot! The sweater is definitely on my wait list now. Thank you for inspiration.
    PS. I love your hair cut!

  10. Wow!! That is such a brilliant sweater!! I’ve never seen one spiral out from the shoulder like that. The colours you have chosen are wonderful, so perfect. And it looks amazing one you, I love the way it makes you move and groove, it certainly is the sort of jumper that would make you want to dance!

  11. It’s stunning, the whole thing, from the fibre to the finished sweater. Go you!

    Having been offline more than on over the last couple of weeks I’m finally catching up with everyone and wishing them only good things in 2015. You are always such an inspiration Rebecca, I can’t wait to see what you do next 🙂

  12. Stephen West’s design is terrific on you, Rebecca. The motion of the lines puts me in mind of seashells and all things aquatic making you a modern mermaid!

    Well done for persevering to the finish.

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