I can't believe it was five years ago that I decided to spin a sweater, but apparently it was. I'm not really known for following things through in a timely manner, or focusing on just one project at a time.
So my spinning has improved (or at least changed) a lot since then, as have my tastes - I've picked a new pattern, I've worked through almost all of my pound-and-a-half of fiber, and I plan on casting on soon.
I've chosen a different top-down raglan (for easy fitting and making the most of my yardage) - the cowl-necked Francis Revisited.
This isn't the first time I've knit a sweater with handspun - my Caitlin, the cozy orange monstrosity, used handspun in the colorwork details on the yoke and edges. But the majority of that jumper was in a coordinating millspun yarn, so this will be my first entirely handspun sweater.
The spinning process has taken so long not just because it's a big project - though it is - but also because of all the projects I've done in between, not to mention a transatlantic move. For almost a year, the big bag of fiber and several bobbins of singles were in America while I was in the UK. This project has often been pushed aside in favor of more instant gratification.
Reading Tsock Tsarina's Sheep to Sweater article in Knitty has inspired new vigor in the project. No, I'm not starting from fleece, but once you get past the fiber prep, the process is the same. It's a really great article and well worth reading.
One of the things I like about it is the encouragement to break the 'rules' - or at least being aware that it's not some grave sin to bend or break them. For instance, rather than spinning all the yarn before casting on, she spun a skein one day and knit until she ran out of yarn, repeating this process until the sweater was complete.
Of course, it helps that she's an admirably consistent spinner! In my case, since the first of my skeins was spun when I was a really new spinner, and the last nearly five years after that, I'm going to wait until it's all spun and then alternate skeins every few rows for a more consistent look. That's the best plan for my situation - but in another case, I might decide it's OK to break free of the rules - after all, the spinning police will not come to arrest me. How freeing is it to realize that?
So, after 5 years of spinning, who's taking bets on how long this sweater will take to knit? I'm hoping a large-gauge stockinette raglan will fly by... or it could crawl, since it's an all-stockinette sweater. We shall see!