In fact, the sweater I'm working on right now is called "Elise", not "Elisa", but Serge Gainsbourg's song has been stuck in my head anyway.
If I were putting together my own personal knitting cool wall (à la Top Gear), Rowan would definitely have a spot in the "cool" zone. Maybe even in the "sub-zero" zone.
Now, if you've watched Top Gear, you know that the Cool Wall has nothing to do with any sensible criteria, with any degree of practicality or usefuless or good design. Though sometimes it does. It has more to do with a "feeling" about the car in question, or, as the presenters will have it, with answering the question that if you turned up in the car under consideration for a date with Kristen Scott-Thomas, what would she think?
Well, my own personal Knitting Cool Wall (TM) works much in the same way, and I can't help wondering if Kristen Scott-Thomas knits, so I could pose a similar question: what would K S-T think if this or that knitting item showed up in her post box?
So, my own personal Knitting Cool Wall (TM) has little to do with whether something is practical, or well-designed, or well-written, and more to do with some un-named, un-specified, indeed, un-specifiable, un-quantifiable qualities.
Which of course, leaves me a rather wide berth.
However, I can definitely say that on the Knitting Cool Wall (TM) one would definitely find Rowan.
I know what you're thinking -- that I've gone barking mad. The yarns are expensive. The patterns are frequently indecipherable. They persist in providing line-by-line instructions for lace and seem intransigent about requests to add charts for lace.
And you'd be right. But they're still cool.
It's true, reading a Rowan pattern occasionally causes me moments wherein I scratch my head and wonder what they are smoking out there in the middle of England. For example, for the Elise sweater, I was lulled into complacency by the back:
Which, of course, has nothing more difficult than some waist shaping. "Piece of cake, " I thought, which, if you've seen Forget Paris with Billy Crystal, you will know is the last thing you want to be thinking.
Because then I started the front. Which started well enough, up until the point where I had to deal with side shaping for the waist, a decrease at the front, a garter stitch edging, and a funky little ruffle, all written up in that most obscure of knitting languages, Rowanese.
At which point I hauled out the big guns:
The spreadsheet programme. Everything that has to happen on the left front is recorded on the spreadsheet, and I've even included the stitch count to keep myself on track. It also had to be compared to my notes for the back, to make sure I managed to put the armhole decreases in the right place so they would match up.
I know on some level that this is just madness, and I should be closing the book and walking away from the sweater, maybe working on something more sedate, like the Princess edging.
But Rowan just sucks you in. First, there's the yarn -- Felted Tweed, which has to be one of the most soothing things to work with out there. It's just delicious, and it has rapidly turned into one of my favorites.
Then there's this:
This ruffled edge is cute, and it's clever. It's a four row repeat, which also includes a short row, in order to accomodate for the difference between garter stitch and stockinette stitch as well as for the fact that you are decreasing just along the inside of that garter border.
So despite a situation which has all the potential of being a real casse-tête, Rowan sucks me in with these delightful little details, with this attention to something that one might not otherwise have thought of. The pattern is simple, it's beautiful, and it has this little ruffle on the edge that just-- well, it makes me smile.
Which is why, on My Own Personal Knitting Cool Wall (TM), Rowan is definitely Cool. Maybe even Sub-Zero.
And I'm positive that if Kristen Scott-Thomas knits, she knits with Rowan.