When I first envisioned the fall colors sweater, I thought it would be something lacy. Probably a cardigan, with vertical lace panels separated by some spacers. Something like this, perhaps:

But then the issue of grist meant that I ended up with 30% less yarn than I’d expected from that fiber. Fortunately, I am working on the Falkland lace sweater at the same time, with the same yardage. So I have a pretty good idea of how far 928 yards will stretch.

The answer is that it will stretch enough, but only if I want a lightweight sweater with very open lace. I happen to love the way the Falkland sweater is coming out, but it’s probably not a weight that I’ll use for more than a few months a year, and definitely not in the fall. Also, I think that a lace that open really needs a semi-solid yarn to keep the color from fighting with the lace pattern. This yarn might work in a more solid lace, but I think it would be too much variegation for a really open pattern.

So that sent me back to the drawing board. Somewhere in our emails back and forth, Jan suggested that maybe a Chanel-inspired jacket would be the thing. This had me enchanted for quite a while, trying to figure out how I might stretch the yarn to make it work. It would have to be a short jacket because of the yarn restrictions, but I could use a different color as trim to help stretch it out a bit.

Unfortunately, I’d want this to be a really solid, stable fabric, probably with an almost woven texture. And that spells heavy yardage requirements. I thought about using two colors at once and dyeing something to match, but I still don’t think that will stretch the yardage enough.

I also thought about actually weaving it. You get a lot more fabric for the yardage with weaving than you do with knitting, so I could make this go farther on the loom. I’d also be using a different yarn for the warp, so I’d automatically get twice as far. I did some calculations, and really looked carefully at what it would take to cut these pieces from the widest fabric I can make on my loom, and I think it would still be cutting it a little too close. If I wanted a really cropped jacket or short sleeves I could probably make it work, but I think I’m unlikely to have occasion to wear either of those styles very often.

So. Definitely keeping this jacket idea in the active list, but probably not in this yarn. I think it would look great knit up, though.

Then I thought about working a more fitted jacket and having the sleeves in a contrasting color. The extra fitting takes out a significant portion of the yardage, and the contrasting sleeves cut out a lot more. If the body were worked in two colors, I might have enough to make it on this design. Based on the gauge of the Falkland sweater, I still don’t think I could get the full vest out of the fall colors yarn in stockinette. But colorwork might just do it here.

Next, I started thinking raglans. These are nice and simple, because you just start at the top and knit until you run out of yarn. They’re also very safe projects for me, because I’ve done enough of them to know that it will turn into something I’m likely to wear. (Though, incidentally, I have yet to actually knit myself a raglan.) I was thinking of something like this, minus the gorilla shoulders:

Olive green semisolid at the neck would put a spacer between the orange and my skin tone (one of the reasons that I don’t wear orange much is that I have a good bit of yellow in my skin and sometimes yellow/orange can make me look jaundiced). Then I’d do a dark brown for the main body, tying in both the greens and browns of fall. This could work, and it was actually my #1 choice until I sat down and started drawing these out. Seeing it on the page, though, it’s not quite as appealing as some of the other options. It’s still high on the list, but I’m not sure it’s right for this yarn.

I could also do some kind of colorwork or striping to spread the orange highlight yarn out over the entire sweater.

If done well, I think this could be absolutely stunning. Unfortunately, artistic arrangement of stripes is not my greatest strength. I am usually a little too mathematical and geometrical to come up with the kinds of dynamic striping that I’d want here. The sketch makes it look rather unappealing, doesn’t it?

I could do a raglan design with the fall colors yarn as an accent band, but I want it to stand front and center in the design, and I’d like to use up the yarn that I have. (Yes, I know. I am picky, picky, picky in the design phase. That’s why I usually end up with things that I like in the end.)

My current favorite leans back toward the more tailored jacket look, and is loosely based on a commercial sweater that I wear all the time.

This would be a zip-front cardigan that’s fitted but still has a good bit of ease. It’s a more casual cut, so I’m more likely to wear it often. The seam between the side panels and the front fabric would give it a nice silhouette look, especially if there’s a strong contrast between bright body and dark panel colors. The sleeves could be a contrast color, and the underarms would be a solid or semi-solid to match the sleeves. That would take out a good 8″ of fabric from the body alone, helping the yarn to stretch further. The rest of the body could then be colorwork or a two-color textured pattern to stretch the yardage again (which should make up for the extra density of the fabric). I’d probably do an olivey-green for the sleeves and underarm panels, and a deep, dark brown for the other body yarn.

This could be done with any number of colorwork or texture designs. The dark brown should help the orange to “pop”, like the dark branches highlighting the fall foliage. Adding in the green and brown also pulls this closer into my usual color palette and might make it more likely that I’ll wear it often.

I’m a little torn about that last part. Practically speaking, I do think that I’m more likely to wear greens and browns than just orange. I was kind of in love with the pure orange-reds, though. The strong, bold colors are the whole point of this project, after all. I don’t want to dilute them down. I also don’t want this to be something that has to be worn as an earth-tone; I like the idea of making it a real focus piece. I think that I should be able to come up with a colorwork design that uses the darker colors to highlight the oranges, though. If I’m good, I should be able to use the design to narrow the focus even further, from the garment level right down to the individual yarns.

I don’t know if I’m that good, but I think I want to try.

The other slightly scary thing about this design is the construction. I haven’t done much designing for seamed sweaters, so this one will be a bit of a stretch. Add to that the fact that there will be 5 body panels, and that’s a lot of planning. I’m thinking of doing it with steeks, which will let me do the colorwork in the round and then seam at the end, but that means no trying on and checking of design along the way. It will also be a very oddly shaped garment until the steeks are cut.

I think that’s manageable, though. Those lines aren’t really very complicated, and I really like the semi-tailored look that the side panels give to the design. It’s not a closely fitted garment, so there should be some room to adjust at the end, if necessary. It would also give me a reason to steek a full sweater, which very much appeals to the seamstressy side of me. The colorwork and contrasting sleeves will guarantee that I have enough of the focus yarn, and I can dye and spin up as much as I need of the other colors.

So, I think this is it. Still dithering, poking around and exploring other ideas. I’d still need to sit down and figure out how much more yarn I need to spin, and to decide on the perfect colors to match. Solid? Semi-solid? Something else?

So many decisions still to make, but I think we’re getting closer.