A number of years ago, I fell in love with The Fairisle Coat by Tanis Gray from the Fall 2008 issue of Vogue Knitting. Outside forces contributed to keeping it off my queue–mainly, my two self-inflicted yarn fasts that required me to use only yarn from my Stash. I don’t keep a whole lot of sport yarn around the house so it had to wait until I could get some. I remembered a fabulous little New Hampshire-based yarn company called The Woolen Rabbit I had used for a test peplum sweater in the summer of 2013. Though I wasn’t a fan of the peplum, I still liked the yarn. Unfortunately, I bought it at an LYS in my old neighborhood in NYC so I looked at The Woolen Rabbit website to see if it listed shops that carried the brand. No such luck.
I strapped on my helmet and dove straight into the website to see what was being offered. I discovered they did custom dyed yarns so I took a look through the base options and weeded out the sport weight bases and any fingering weight that stated the right gauge. This, of course, led to a detailed chart of price per skein versus yardage based on the requirements for the coat. It wasn’t quite enough to start an investigation board but it was close. Yardage per skein is what became the determining factor in choosing a base. The 50/50 Merino wool/silk Opulence base fit my needs the best because at 375 yds. per hank, I could get the most yardage for my money. The Merino wool would keep it warm and sturdy, and would provide a good bounce; the silk would add a little drape to the wool, and add a slight sheen to the finished fabric. All I had to do was pick colors.
As I was spelunking the website, I found a companion gradient kit called “Sumptuous Quartz”, which used the colors of rose quartz as inspiration, applied to the Sumptuous yarn base. Included in the kit was a dusty rose accompanied by black, charcoal, grey, and silver. The palette was perfect but the base was wrong and I needed a lot more yarn than that kit could offer. I scoured the website to see if I could match the colors available for custom dyed or hand-dyed yarn. Not finding what I wanted, and unwilling to settle, I sent an e-mail requesting the color names included in the kit. I got a very quick response on all five colors: Rose Quartz, Raven, Chimney Sweep, Daddy Steelbucks, and Silver Fox. I was instructed to request those colors on the custom order form, even though some weren’t listed as part of their available colors. As soon as I was able to buy yarn, I placed a custom order for those colors to be applied to the Opulence base I had chosen. I forget how long it took for the yarn to get to me but I remember it was quick, like somewhere around two weeks. It looked great, was soft to the touch, squishy, and absolutely perfect.
Fast-forward one year to this past August when I finally mustered enough courage to do a shawl for my MIL–something she requested, specifically. Now, it’s not that I’m afraid of my MIL or anything, but I’m highly intimidated by the pattern. It uses a lot of short rows in a technique I’ve never used before. I perused a video or two online and quickly moved on to doing a series of hats I call A Desperate Attempt to Feel Confident.
It kind of worked. However, the satisfaction I felt from finishing these hats was fleeting and I needed something that would kick my ass a little. That’s when I let a trip down the Ravelry rabbit hole take me back to The Fairisle Coat by Tanis Gray. I could see the colors mixing in my brain, and I could feel its silky warmth hugging my shoulders. I grabbed the yarn I had kept aside, still in the clear drawstring bag from the original shipment. I looked over the instructions and followed the advice given by the only other knitter on Ravelry who has attempted this sweater. In fact, she made it twice so I know the advice is good. I switched a few colors around and began my journey.
I’m still in the process of knitting the coat but it’s going well. My floats are looking good–nothing has twisted as far as I can tell, the patterns match up, and I’m feeling confident about how much yarn I have left to make my final sleeve and the collar. I had one little snag when I let a knot become an epic nightmare. It got a little caught when I was winding my ball and a little knot formed…then a big knot formed…then the knot took on a life of its own where it stopped shrinking as I loosened it, and actually started traveling the length of the yarn. It was three weeks before I finally gave up, cut the end, untangled the mess, and rejoined the yarn.
I hope it doesn’t take more than two more weeks to finish. I had a goal to finish this coat in less time than it took to finish the Great Red Coat. Big Red took three-and-a-half months to finish. If I get this done in two weeks, I’ll be a month ahead of schedule–even with the three week nightmare knot. And, I’m just barely starting to get the itch to start something new, so it’s best to keep on top of these things. But, the greatest endurance test is still ahead of me: weaving in all those ends. Wish me luck!