It took a while to decide what I wanted my first Paton's project to be. Start small and work my way up to a major project? Choose something using a simple technique I know backwards and forwards? Nope. I like new knitting challenges and learning new skills, so I decided to start with something pretty ambitious: the Cable Car Coat from Patons pattern book Next Steps Six: Learn to Cable. Love the name. It reminds me of San Francisco.
I've done a few cable knit hats and a miniature cable knit Barbie sweater, but so far no cabling on this scale. I like projects that keep me on my toes. Doing the same stitches over and over gets boring. I need benchmarks to aim for, whether it's increases, decreases, color changes or cables. Another reason I chose to tackle this project first is because working on such a warm project seems inviting in winter. By spring, a lap full of wool-blend yarn might not seem so cozy.
Before casting on, I always read through the pattern. Not necessarily stitch-by-stitch, but just to have an idea of what the process is. This pattern said it needed three different size needles: US 8, US 9 and US 10. I have all of those, but upon reading the pattern I realized the 9s need to be large circulars. I don't have those (yet), but they're not needed until it's time to do the edging, so I was able to get started. And the 8s? I only need those if I choose to do the knitted button covers.
(One thing the pattern might suggest is using size 10 circulars, too, since there will be a lot of stitches by the time you start shaping the sleeves. Why bunch things up on straight needles if you don't have to?)
The second thing I normally do is the gauge/tension test. This time I tested Patons Shetland Chunky on US 10s and 10.5s. The needles seem so close in size, but the difference was obvious.
Next step before casting on: loading a clipboard with scrap paper so I can mark my progress and count rows without marking up the original pattern.
The pattern starts with the large unadorned back of the coat (stockinette stitch, which can be monotonous), but that's good. If it started with the fun stuff, I'd probably dread doing the back. This way I have all the fun stuff to look forward to! Now that I have more than 14-inches done on the back, the increases are in full swing. It shouldn't be long before I'm shaping the shoulders and ready to start the left front!