Wednesday, 28 December 2011

FO- The Importance of Being Ernest Shackleton

Finally! I can start to show off a few of the things I've been quietly working on in hopes of actually surprising people.

First up, a sweater I designed myself. A men's sweater, inspired by the great Ernest Shackleton.

I've been completely fascinated by the Man and the Adventure for ages. Here we have a captain and crew of 27, sailing for Antarctica for a chance to be the first to cross the Antarctic continent. The year was 1914.

Very close to reaching land in February 1915, their ship, the Endurance, was trapped in sea ice. The hope was that upon springtime in September, the ice would release the ship and they would continue their journey to the Continent. However, the melting and shifting ice pack shredded the ship to pieces in October, leaving the men to scavenge the ship for supplies before the Endurance was swallowed by the icy sea.

For two months, they camped out on an ice floe, hoping the drifting currents would get them close to land. They had lifeboats and supplies, and they survived by eating their sled dogs (gasp!) and whatever seals and penguins they could kill.

Eventually, the ice floes broke up and the crew spent five harrowing days in their life boats, trying to reach land. The reached the tiny, uninhabited Elephant Island. There, Shackleton decided that the majority of his crew needed to stay behind and took his five healthiest men to try to get to a whaling station on South Georgia Island, which was 800 miles away across open ocean. On the 24th of April 1916, they launched the tiny boat, promising to come back to rescue the rest of his crew.

The tiny lifeboat and crew were tossed around in hurricane-force winds and high seas for 15 days. With only rudimentary navigation tools and very little chance to use them properly with all the tossing seas, they actually made it to South Georgia Island. Except they were on the WRONG SIDE from the whaling station there and they had to cross the mountainous interior on foot for 32 miles, which had never been attempted before.

Upon his return, Shackleton borrowed a boat and had to wait for months before the weather cleared enough to make the journey back into the Antarctic. He went and picked up the rest of his crew from Elephant Island, who had been eating penguin and living in the overturned lifeboat for more than 4 months, waiting for their captain to come and get them, not knowing if he was even alive, all of humanity ignorant of their whereabouts.

That just amazing, right? If any manly-man story could give me the warm fuzzies, this would be it.

Sadly, it did not end well for old Ernie Shack. He returned to a different world in England in 1917 largely forgotten- World War I had broken out, and he considered a failure for losing a ship and not making his intended journey. Several books and films later, and his character has been largely restored to his rightful place as pretty much a super hero.

Back to the knitwear.

Looking through the old pictures of Shackleton and his crew made me jealous of their insanely warm knitwear. These are the days before synthetics- everything was wool or skin or fur.

Look at those pimp fur mittens. Seeing that sweater made my heart go pitter-pat a bit, so I set out to make one. It's pretty simple- just a drop-shoulder shapeless man sweater with a basketweave stitch pattern up top.

Dec 2011 038

I used a little over two skeins of Cascade Eco.

Dec 2011 040

It's designed for a man, so therefore, it had no shaping. It makes me look bulkier than I need to look, but I was the only available model that the sweater would fit so I'll have to make do.

Dec 2011 041

I did take my liberties from the original photo and did away with the turtleneck. In my experience, most men are loathe to wear one. A simple roll neck worked just fine.

Dec 2011 042

It's cozy and warm and functional, which is perfect for the Maine winters that the recipient endures, which by the sounds of the whining I hear are just as bad as spending an entire winter out on the Antarctic ice. I did block the sleeves out again- they were a little funky and bunched up at the shoulders, and a good second blocking was exactly what it needed.

Dec 2011 046

I used size 8 needles and got 14 stitches and 22 rows to 4 inches, and figured out the math from there for a 40" chest size.

The recipient loves it apparently. Being nice to me gets you places, or, at the very least, it gets you knitwear.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely Sweater! Would you share the pattern?
    Thank you,
    Helena Georgette