The Throwback, literally

This blog post has been almost a year in the making and because I had written it in August, I decided to re-write it since a lot has happened since that time. I was in the throws of saying a final good-bye to my dad during the time of writing, as well, which added a whole other level of emotion. This sweater was a light during this time and I am so thankful for the opportunity to work with this yarn.

At Fibres West 2019, I had an opportunity to knit with a new yarn from Westcoast Colour called Homespun, a 100% Rambouillet from Alberta. A bouncy, sproingy yarn, this fibre is next-to-the-skin comfortable while being able to take wear-and-tear. The uptake of colour on this fine wool was as expected: Absolutely amazing. Because Lynne had other yarns she was dyeing and getting ready at the time (Homespun is now dyed using her colour ingenious but haven’t been listed on the website yet – coming soon), I asked Katrina if she would be willing to dye some of her colours on the yarn. We chose Cobalt, Lucky Penny, Cinnamon Bark and Tumbleweed. The plan was to knit Andrea Mowry’s Throwback cardigan, which was everywhere at the festival in so many colours and variations – it was truly inspiring!

I knit this sweater on our trip up to Whitehorse, YK, and I have to admit, the knitting was finished much before I was ready for it to be over (Yukon Adventures Vlog here). The sweater knit up so fast that I actually felt sort of depressed when it was finished — I loved knitting with so much! I have actually thought about ripping it out to re-knit it since it is actually too big for me and I love this sweater so much. It seems a shame to leave it as is and not re-knit it!

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Pattern: The Throwback by Andrea Mowry

Yarn: Westcoast Colour Homespun, 100% Rambouillet, dyed by Crafty Jaks: Cobalt, Lucky Penny, Cinnamon Bark and Tumbleweed

Needles: 4.5mm (US 7) & 5.00mm (US 8)

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These yoked sweaters have been taking the knitting world by storm lately and I hope you take the opporunity to knit one if you have a chance. Delve into your worsted weight leftover yarns and see if you have some colours that might work nicely together – it will be worthwhile!

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The sample does not include buttons but I decided to make both buttons and buttonholes on my bands because of I wanted a warm, cosy sweater – and it served me well on our trip! 

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The pattern is written for the sweater to be knit back and forth — if you have the opportunity to steek and feel comfortable, then knit in the round and work in some steeking stitches. The colourwork stitches at the front of the sweater would have been smoother if I’d steeked the cardigan so I wish I had gone that route. However, it came out nicely with the buttonband, which I sewed on afterwards, and the overall fit is nice, although a bit baggy at the back. This ended up being my go-to sweater to pull on for the rest of our trip and I’d really like to make another one but I’m thinking about the pullover version instead.

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In the end, the yarn was incredible to work with – it is bouncy and structured, high twist and durable. I loved working with this yarn and have often thought, when I’ve seen Lynne, about purchasing some more of it to make another sweater. Because it is 100% wool with no superwash, the yarn locked together beautifully, creating a lovely fabric that doesn’t leave me wondering if it will fall apart in the wearing, washing or storing! I love 100% wooly-wool yarns and this one is worth every penny.

Our trip to Yukon ended up being a bit of a pilgramage in the end, which was unexpected and unplanned. Mike had never been that far north before, other than when we went to Athabasca for my graduatation from my Masters of Nursing program in 2012 (at 8.5 months pregnant but that’s another story for another time). We had recently traded in our much-loved r-Pod and Xterra for a different set-up. The family we sold it to was over-the-moon and we were able to move into something more appropriate for the type of adventuring we want to be able to do – namely, long distance driving, slightly larger water tanks and solar to be off-grid for longer periods of time. Our Xterra, while we loved it so much, was only able to travel about 200 miles to a tank of gas, while our Canyon can go more than triple on deisel. It was a find of a truck, sitting on a dealership lot for a prolonged period of time and hadn’t sold. Do you ever feel that sometimes there’s an opportunity and you are in the right place at the right time? I’m not sure I believe in some of that stuff but it makes a good story, meant we could start to do some of the trips we have been dreaming of and scooped it up about a month later when it was still sitting there!

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It is deceptive but our trailer looks bigger than our beloved r-Pod but actually is the exact same size – just a different shape so the inside space is much more useable (interior of the r-Pod). AND, Mike and I aren’t constantly hitting our heads on the bulkhead of the kitchen. Ouch! (Geo-Pro interior here)

The trip up meant we were able to visit my childhood home in Prince George, BC, and the home my dad owned in Dawson Creek, BC, as well as the site at Rolla, BC, where my grandmother, Maude (sometimes written in her documents as Maud because my dad was pretty sure that her parents were illiterate and didn’t know how to spell her name), is buried after travelling to Canada to meet my mom, see my dad after he immigrated to BC, and didn’t tell anyone she had end-stage Leukemia. This meant she was unable to get home and ended up remaining in Canada through that summer of 1979 and dieing in the early fall (if my memory of the events is correct from being told by my dad throughout my life).

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I have visited this place before in my life – last when I was 17 years old – and I always feel a deep sense of connection with her. I can’t explain why – my aunt Yvonne, my dad’s sister who died in 2008 – told me that Maude and I would have gotten along famously so I guess that’s why I feel connected. When we tell our children stories enough times, they begin to believe them as if they were their own memories. The other part of my belief is that my dad and I were so close, and while he decided to leave England, I know the hardest part for him was leaving Maude and Yvonne behind. The last part is that she was a beautiful seamstress and knitter – right there, we would have clicked. So while I never knew her (I was born in 1982), I feel that she is a part of me. Norah left some flowers that she scavenged from around the tiny cemetary on her grave and I sat for a long time talking to Maude about Dad, what was happening at home and where we were going.

In and amongest all of this, I was knitting on my Throwback and enjoying every stitch. Being able to wear it to the cemetary and ‘show’ Maude was really cool – I have to admit, it was fun telling her about the yarn. I’m sure it would have blown her mind to know that we source from local farmers and mill at relatively local farms and knit with it, let alone spin and create yarns to knit. She grew up in war-torn England (born 1911) and lived through the age of man-made nylons, fabrics and yarns. Even Yvonne knit with almost 100% acrylic yarns and man-made fabrics when she was still sewing, so I think this return to wool and celebrating what a relationship that is more in harmony (let’s face it, there is always room to improve) with animals can do. Here’s a snapshot of our time on the road — knitting, seaming, weaving in ends, discussions in the truck about song lyrics and scenary:

Have you knit a yarn up recently that you loved? That was totally worth the cost, time or attention to detail? What made that one stand out in particular? I’d love to hear about your experiences! 

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