The Birkin sweater – finally!

In early January 2018, I bought yarn in Sweden to knit the beautiful Birkin sweater (pattern by Caitlin Hunter). A good year later, what fits so easily in a single sentence, was about to become a nightmare. Somehow, the Birkin and I did not get along. At all.

In a first attempt, I had five colors, two of which did not fit. Maybe in terms of color, but the yarns were just too different. I should have realized that before starting to work with them, however I did not. Hence, I started over. In a second attempt, I made a bad mistake when doing increases, after the first branch of leaves and immediately frogged the whole thing.

In a third attempt (February 2018) the yoke turned out way too tight (and yes, I did swatch to obtain gauge). It would have been perfect for someone without shoulders. Someone drop-shaped. Not for me. Searching for #birkinsweater on Instagram showed me that I was not the only one having problems – look for Valerie or Vivian or Kristen – very comforting but it did not help me and my sweater.

Finally, in a fourth attempt, everything seemed to work out, until I realized that the whole yoke turned out way too long, too low (if that is the correct word). All was well, as long as I did not lift my arms. However, it rode up whenever I lifted my arms, all the flowers moved too (Marjorie had the same issue). And I knew, I would never wear it that way.

Hence, a fifth attempt (July 2018) omitting some of the flowers, which did not help. At that point, I was on the verge of … well (every little dot a curse word)… omitting the whole Birkin idea. I did not and this last failed attempt would sit on my sofa for weeks …

Until January 2019, when my wonderful friend Bettina flew to Dublin to see her daughter, bringing local yarn for me to have on the way back. Just like that. Because she is wonderful. Donegal Aran Tweed, 8 balls in green, a red and a white one, two in a color called aqua.

So, I started over in a sixth attempt and this time (Caitlin Hunter may forgive me) I would listen to Elizabeth Zimmermann, her book “knitting without tears,” and nobody else. Doing a swatch first and then the sweater – bottom-up instead of top-down, aran instead of fingering, three flowery twines instead of five and decreases adapted to my body. All of a sudden everything was easy. The sweater was done in a week.

All is well. Hard to believe though.