I decided about a year ago I wanted to make my dad a traditional Aran sweater in our Irish clan name. I found a store in Ireland that had the pattern, the background, and the yarn I needed all neatly packaged just for crazy people like myself.
Let me give you the back story to a “Clan Sweater” (btw- this isn’t “clan” like a lynching. “Clan” in the old school term meaning tribe, your people, the folks with your name. No white hoods, burning crosses, or rude words involved. Just “your folk” . And it’s also not Arian either, it’s Aran, like the island.) They were made for the fisherman in Ireland so that when they went out, not only could they be kept warm by the nice wool that still retained the oils, called lanolin, from the sheep, making them almost water repellent. But also, if they were washed overboard, they could identify whose body was found, by the sweater pattern. Gruesome, I know, but it’s tradition. *Break into Fiddler on the roof song now*
The unfortunate part of this story is that my dad has an enormous chest. Mind you, not because he needs a Hove-a-round to get his big buns around Wallyworld, to buy more beer and Cheetos, thank goodness, but because he’s worked his entire life on a farm and has ginormous muscles, even at 65. This isn’t speaking from a “my daddy can beat up your daddy” perspective, I had my brother measure him, and we were both a bit shocked. The largest the pattern came in is 58″ and that wasn’t big enough, so 60+” inches, that I’ll need. WOW! That’s a LOT of knitting, and a lot of Aran knitting to boot.
Luckily in my test swatch I discovered that knitting with the suggested size needles, I knit just slightly bigger than they want, making it the perfect size, so no math necessary to make it larger. Granted, it’s not his style so I can pretty much guarantee he’ll never wear it, so size isn’t an issue, but that isn’t the point. It’s all about the history, the pride in the family name and his youngest daughter spending months making him something. Yes, I said months. I am starting to understand why just about every knitter I talk to says that they have an Aran sweater sitting in their closet, half done.
It’s not that it’s hard; once you get the Irish knitting down and the Irish lingo (and a few corrections to the pattern *uhg*) the pattern is pretty easy and repeats itself, lending to mindless knitting. The problem comes from the fact that it’s not truly mindless. I can’t watch my silent Alfred Hitchcock while knitting it, for fear that I’ll skip a yarn over, or a purl 3 together. So it’s “Biography” or “Bewitched on HULU I guess.
So now I’m down to the last 10” on the back….. and still have the rest of the sweater to go. I’ve been working on it about 2 weeks now and tonight was the first night that I looked at it and thought “Really? Do I REALLY want to work on it tonight? You know, you have a pantsuit in time out calling to you!” Granted, it probably doesn’t help that you need to knit the yarn off of a swift instead of balling it, making your knitting positions limited to where you can attach your swift, although I cheated at the ortho the other day and just draped it over my knees instead. (Those ortho appt.’s can take up to 3 hours on occasion, I bring water, knitting, a magazine. If I could fit my sewing machine, I’d bring that too!)
~Which brings me to a side note. For anyone who has never knitted in public, I’ll let you in on a little secret: Knitting in public makes you friends with everyone! People will stare at you, watch you, and ask you a million questions. Also, as my Knit Night girls know, get you several dates, if wanted? I don’t know what it is, but people like to see a girl knitting?!~
So tonight, as I turn on “Biography” again, and turn out another 10 or 15 rows, with my hands tiring and sore, I’ll think of my dad receiving his sweater, or with any luck, I can deliver it to him in person, granting we get stationed where we think we will, and how happy, proud and loved he’ll feel that I did this for him.
And just think, I bought two, so I could make one for the hubby, yay –