In Stillness by Alicia Plummer is one of those patterns that I saw and purchased immediately. It was December of last year and — thanks to the early super cold snap we had — it was already glaringly apparent that I lacked a big, warm, squishy pullover. A simple, subtle A-line construction with just a bit of texture, I knew right away that this pattern would fit the bill perfectly.
Of course, I was still in a place where I had very little yarn in my stash that was actually in sweater quantities (I’ve since –um — addressed that situation, but that’s another story…), so I spent a few weeks reading and researching in the hopes of finding just the right yarn for the task. I knew without much doubt that I was looking for a Superwash Merino — the drape and wear-ability of superwash was just a must-have for this type of sweater. Of course, the price of the yarn also had to be right. With sweaters that I know will get heavy or frequent wear, I always mentally weigh how long-wearing a sweater will be against the cost. I know myself well enough to know that there is an inverse relationship between cost and how often I wear a sweater. It doesn’t make a lot of sense — if you spend a lot, you should wear it ALL THE TIME, right?! Well, I think subconsciously at least if I overspend on yarn I try to over-care for it. Wanting this sweater for everyday use, I knew I had to find the Goldilocks of yarns. It had to be just right.
After much deliberation, the yarn I kept returning to was Tanis Fiber Arts Green Label Aran. I’ve used Tanis Fiber Arts (TFA) yarns in a number of projects in the past and I’ve always been beyond happy when assessing the mighty yarn purchase triumverate — this of course boiling down to: 1) quality of the base (fiber blend, twist, joy in knitting, and yardage), 2) quality of the color, and 3) cost in relation to #1 & #2. Usually I order directly from TFA via their website even though it is an international order for me. I like that I have never once had an issue getting the color & base I wanted in a very quick turnaround time. Plus, the customer service is out of sight all in all making the tiny extra bit of shipping I pay to order direct well worth it. This time, however, I went through Eat. Sleep. Knit. out of Georgia because they happened to have enough of the color I wanted, Poppy.
Along the way, I got this super cute ninja project bag from Stitched by JessaLu — she does such great things. I’m not usually into matching my project bag to my project, but something came over me here that could not be helped.
I finished and was washing the sweater by the Wednesday before Valentine’s Day. I hurriedly washed and dried (via cold/gentle cycle in my wash machine & a cool/air fluff kind of situation in the dryer until just before it was dry) so I could take it along on my hubby’s surprise trip to Minnesota.
And I love to wear it. This photo I had Mr Knitting Sarah take for the bio photo for my guest contribution yesterday to the Handmade by Stefanie blog and I think it is a pretty nice shot of the sweater and how roomy and comfy it is. The sleeves are long and were designed that way. I could probably have skimped a round or two on them, but I like the length for hiking and just general coziness.
By this photo, the sweater had been washed and dried twice and as you can see it hasn’t lost one bit of its brilliant red luster. True to TFA form, this yarn exceeded my expectations and I wouldn’t hesitate a second to recommend it to anyone and everyone searching for a washable aran weight yarn. In fact, it has solidified that I definitely need to use the Mini Sock Skein Kit I picked up late last year for a Lifesavers Sweater. I keep vacillating between the Charcoal and Chris Grey for the main color… I’m kind of leaning toward Chris Grey these days… but I digress. I have a number of other projects that I need to work on first, so I have some time to think on it.
As for the pattern, I know In Stillness took some flack early on in its life for clarity issues. I will be very honest when I say that I printed out the original pattern shortly after purchasing it and didn’t even bother to print the updated version until I was practically through the raglan increases. I think the updates definitely made the pattern writing more clear, but I actually think the original edition was well written. It did, however, assume that the knitter would understand the construction model for a raglan sweater. I really had no issues following the pattern between the photos and the instructions, but I could see how someone less familiar with raglan sweaters or perhaps someone who likes detailed, on-the-nose directions might find the original pattern a little lacking. All this being said, I think the additions in the updated version help smooth those rough edges and make it very accessible and since there are really no terribly difficult technical requirements, this pattern would be a great ‘next step’ from a first, or basic raglan pullover.
Well worth the hunt for just the right yarn and really just a true joy to knit, this sweater sits on top of the cedar chest in my room. It never makes it to the ‘put away’ state, because above all else it’s become a staple in my wardrobe. And, really, when it comes to knitwear, I think that’s one of the most important measures of success. For me, this sweater has simply become an instant classic.