While we were in Florida for Christmas, Alex showed me a picture of a sweater he had seen online that was a "Breaking Bad" themed sweater. All he had to do (and he knows it!) was show me the picture, flash his smile and blink those gorgeous eyes and it would be a done deal. Dang, I really am that predictable!!! Chris, chimed in with an "I want one too" and my fate was sealed. Right about now, I am kind of glad that Wesley did not want one.
The thing with this request was it was going to involve A LOT of hours of prep work. The sweater in question is a one of a kind, no longer available hand knit creation with no pattern available for purchase either. So, what to do? I printed out several copies of the available pictures and blew them up as large as possible to be able to see the stitch definition to count out and create a similar design. Lemme tell you, this is the project that has sealed my fate with the need for reading glasses. After searching for a free online chart generator, I set about coloring in each of the little squares. Guess what? This is a huuuuuge chart that quickly exceeded the "save" capacity of the program, which forced me to tape a bunch of pieces of graph paper together and break out the colored pencils. Once I finished coloring, I could go back to the web and attempt to transfer to the chart generator. Well, after more hours of clicking/saving/cussing, an acceptable to me version was on my computer screen, but the program had locked up and quit saving about halfway in. Fortunately, I was able to screen shot save it and print for mock up use.
The whole concept of sweater design is new to me and presented multiple challenges. First, what kind of sweater to knit and how to incorporate the design into an existing pattern? Stranded colorwork or duplicate stitch? Set in sleeves or raglan? Yarn weight? Yarn type? One of my friends suggested merely purchasing a ready made sweater and using duplicate stitch to incorporate the design, which was a good idea except it is not easy to find sweaters with the right gauge sight unseen.
After the chart was as ready as I thought it could be, I decided to do a test knit beginning with the bottom. Grabbed some crap scrap yarn hanging around and got the needles clicking with stranded version. It was obvious that if a similar weight yarn was used, not only would this thing weigh a ton, but the front would be so thick it would act as armor and would create an ungodly amount of heat. The latter being of extreme concern as one son is in an area that is rapidly approaching tropical temperatures again and the other is on the downslide of winter also.
An afternoon chatting with my gal pals at the Nook, convinced me that duplicate stitch on a top down, raglan sleeve sweater with a machine wash/dry friendly yarn that is soft and sort of lighter weight would be the way to go. Flax became the pattern choice and a selection of appropriate acrylic (can't believe I went that route!) yarn was made and my fingers began to fly.
The sweater itself is a breeze to construct and is probably going to stay on my radar as a repeat knit. The duplicate stitch, well, I have a new, not appropriate for print name for this eye gouging process. Not because it is difficult, but more so because of the number of hours/entire nights straight into early morning hours that the center component required. The raglan sleeves and chart design required some adjustment to the initial plan. (That could also possibly be interpreted as me getting sick of messing with the chart and trying to figure out how to get most of the elements included and be done!) I rather like the final version...and most importantly, so do both boys. The first one is done...it took me about 7 days...and is boxed up to fly to the other side of the world. The second one is currently on needles and hopefully will go faster so that Cupid can deliver it next Friday. We shall see. Really depends on how much I would like to sleep and whether my fingers/elbow lock up in screaming agony.
The funny thing...I do not even watch "Breaking Bad" and have no idea what anything on the design means. All I do know is that, yeah, I am a sucker for those boys and their requests.