Thanks for asking, Suzan! The White Swan has landed! My Eala Bhan. I finished her about a month ago, but needed the post to marinate a while!
Eala Bhan was another of my “quest” projects. A project that you see and are drawn to immediately, with an “I-must-make-that” fervor. Surly and I ordered the yarn (Hebridean 2-Ply from Virtual Yarns, my color: Lapwing) as soon as we received our books (the newly republished Aran Knitting by Alice Starmore). I was in such a hurry to start, I insisted that Mairi of Virtual Yarns mail the yarn to Sally’s house so I would not miss a day (I was visiting her at the time).
That was the easy part! I decided to knit the fronts and back as one piece to avoid reverse stockinette seaming. Thus, with fair isle weight yarn and small needles, I had hundreds of sts at the start. It was like Eala Bhan and the Three Bears!! The first attempt was too big, the second too small, and the third was just right…lots of casting on (with an elaborate scalloped cast on) and lots of ripping.
As we know, I am not the smallest cherub in the choir, so I was making the largest size. I also lost my waist in the great “Eat Out” of the mid 90’s, so the extreme waist shaping of Eala Bhan (~12 inches are reduced at the waist!) was a no go for this fatty knitter. I only took out 4-6 inches at the waist — letting just the reduction in stitches from the large cables into the smaller cables do the shaping. I also made many other minor modifications, too numerous to describe or remember!
Eala Bhan requires a fair amount of finishing work due to the construction and button bands. The buttons called for are quite small, which made them difficult to find. As most knitters know, finding the right buttons is sometimes the hardest part of the project! I wanted metal buttons, very detailed, in a bronze color, with a shank — a shank button is easier to sew onto a sweater and the thread does not show.
Again, it was Eala Bhan and The Three Buttons! The first ones I found were beautifully detailed, in a bronze finish, BUT they had no shank and were PLASTIC (ugh). The second ones were still plastic, garish gold, but at least they had a shank. I stumbled across the third ones by accident: bronze, detailed, metal and a shank (see PS 5 below for details)! Yay!
So, here is my Eala Bhan, at long last:
This captures the color in the sunlight perfectly
After blocking, the fit is perfect. The sleeves flare over my hand at just the right spot. The hint of a waist gives me the hint of a waist. The length is perfect. The yarn softened to buttery perfection. I love this sweater.
Pattern: B (very long, complex, and needed tweaking — but a gorgeous concept)
Today we leave for the American Birkebeiner Ski Race. John turned 60 on Tuesday and is hoping for one of his best Birkies. I am hoping to not miss him at the finish line, which happened the last two years. It’s my only job and I blew it!! It is supposed to be VERY cold, too. Then on Sunday I get to watch Colin Firth receive his Oscar…wow! Great weekend!
PS1 to Diana: “And if I had the power I would have Colin present you with your award.” I would actually pass out if I ever saw him in person!
PS2 to Leigh: I did all the cabling without a cable needle: every RS row you are moving sts and I would have gone stark raving mad if I was juggling a cable needle.
PS3: I am in Hayward (free WiFi — yay!). John finished his 28th Birkie but it was a very hard ski for him. The last half was a slog! Just like some knitting projects I know! Thanks for all of the extremely kind comments about EB.
PS4: Colin won! Yay!
PS5: To Amber — where did I find my buttons? I bought them at Hancock Fabrics. They are JHB Buttons # 93287, 1/2 inch (scroll down and you will see them). Three buttons for $3.10.