Friday, June 19, 2015

The First World Problem Sweater

This is the Mirry-Dancers Yoked Pullover, designed by Cheryl Burke, and published in Fair Isle Style: 20 Fresh Designs for a Classic Technique. I fell in love with it the minute I saw it. The design, which is a modern take on the fair isle classic, is excellent and well-shaped, but it's the masterful colourwork which makes this design truly special. I just had to make it.

I actually had the yarn for the body of the Mirry-Dancers sweater in my stash already, in the form of this fair isle cardigan I had made maybe ten years ago before I had clued in on how to shape a sweater for my figure. It was too narrow and straight through the body and too tight around the neck, and I had worn it very little. It was time to take it apart and get some real use out of the yarn. The yarn in this sweater, Naturally Loyal DK, was a warm dark plum, while the Port Wine shade used is a cooler, more grayish purple than it looks in this sample shot, but that was fine with me as the plum would suit my warm skin tone better. And there was plenty of it and it was the right weight and it was free. Who could ask for better?

I ordered the rest of the yarn online as I wanted to make my version of the Mirry-Dancers sweater in the same colourway as the design sample, and Jamieson's Shetland wool isn't stocked by any of Toronto's yarn stores. But I ran into a snag when the Canadian supplier of Jamieson's Shetland wool didn't carry three of the shades I needed. I also wanted to make one other substitution: to nix the purple Gentian shade that appears at the neckline, replacing it with the warmer Nighthawk shade that appears below it, then replacing the Nighthawk in turn with a warmer teal/turquoise shade. I spent hours trying to put together an alternate colourway, while one half of my brain consumed itself with ire that I couldn't get the Tangerine, Prairie, or Mermaid shades I wanted, and the other half asked, "Is this the ultimate first world problem, or what?" Finally I picked out some colours I thought would work and submitted the order.

Alas, when the order came and I started knitting with the colourway I'd put together, I wasn't happy with it at all. I wanted my sweater to look like the original and my version just didn't. Finally I gave in and took the book and the yarn I had down to Romni Wools, where I selected four skeins of DK yarn: one in a very similar colour to the Tangerine (Naturally Loyal in shade 949), another in a very similar colour to the Prairie (Cascade Yarns 220 Superwash in colour 208), and finally a teal (Earth Collection Alpaca Peru Heather in shade 520) and a turquoise (SandnesGaarn Smart Superwash in 6733) that worked with the other colours and replaced the Nighthawk and Mermaid shades.

And this is my completed version, which I made in a size 38. It's very similar to the original and I am very happy with it, if more than a little disgruntled by how unnecessarily expensive it wound up being and by the amount of yarn I had left over. Oh well, as I keep reminding myself, that yarn isn't really wasted as it will wind up going into something else.


  1. I absolutely love this design (it's not often I like the colours as well as the fair isle pattern) and your version of it looks great too. I'd need to use yarns that don't make me itch though if I was going to make this.