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Arctic Air


Some time over the winter I envisioned a light and airy sweater to tide me over those long, brilliantly-hued but frigid months that constitute Spring in the north west of Ireland. Spring is a beautiful season here. Gone is the oppressive grayness and that bone-penetrating humidity that hovers just above zero all through the winter months. In its place come explosions of colour and crystal clear skies. But with this clarity and dazzle enters also a dry, almost icy chill. The glider pilots at the local airfield wait for it with longing, and announce immediately its arrival: 'Here comes the arctic air.' On the day I finished this sweater, that description felt quite apt!

It was the first day of spring, and it had snowed overnight in the mountains. The wind was blowing 25mph. And the air was so chilly, I could only stand it without my coat for so long. Which is just as well, as I'll need to block this sweater before taking proper photos anyway. But it's done, and it's lovely to wear, and I can already tell it will get lots of use this spring. And best of all the pattern is ready also.

The sweater, which was meant to be very basic, veered slightly away from that initial goal before I even got started. I had planned to knit it in fingering weight Alpaca, and because of the fine gauge, to keep the design as simple as possible for a quick knit. But then I noticed that the manufacturer of the yarn I was using (I went with the accessibly priced Norwegian company Drops here), also offered a bouclé version of their alpaca line in matching colours. Suddenly I had the idea, to use bouclé for the funnel neck and the sleeve cuffs, adding a bit of coziness and textural interest to the sweater.

Admittedly, bouclé yarn can be finicky to work with. The needles get stuck int he loopy bits, and it's difficult to see the shape of the stitches through all the fuzziness. Dropped stitches can go unnoticed too, if you aren't careful. But despite the extra care and vigilance it required, I did get used to it after a few rounds and adapted to the bouclé's characteristics.

Looking at, and wearing, the finished knit, I think the bouclé is successful here. The sweater is still very simple overall, but the fluffy oversized cuffs and neck create interesting proportions and add warmth.

The other noteworthy detail in this sweater is the contiguous sleeve construction (which, by the way, is very simple - easier than raglan, I find). The contiguous sleeves are subtle, especially with the heathered dark charcoal colour I chose. But they give the shoulders and sleeve caps a structured look that sort of 'grounds' the sweater, and makes for a nice contrast with its overall floatieness.

As most things I make, this sweater is knit seamlessly, from the top down. It is very easy to knit, easy to source yarn for, and easy to wear - even if getting dressed in the dark, as it is back-front reversible.

The pattern is mostly ready, but whether I end up publishing it this Spring or not, I have a feeling I will be living in this sweater till June!