Ms. Durant agreed that it was hardly a standard knitting job. Once she accepted, her first thought was, “What have I gotten myself into?”
“I did panic a bit,” she said.
A self-described “fiber snob,” she prefers to work in natural fibers only. But since the sweaters are washed daily, she was forced to dabble in acrylic, which can be thrown in a machine.
A simple sweater typically takes between 30 and 40 hours to knit, but the “Carousel” costumes were unique, and some took longer because of their materials or uses onstage. Ms. Durant estimated that she spent more than 70 hours to make each of Mr. Henry’s blue, brown and orange sweaters. (He also wears two, simpler-to-make black sweaters with green and maroon stripes, one fitted with a microphone.)
To meet her deadline, Ms. Durant recruited a skein full of knitters to assist. She got recommendations from yarn shops in nearby Billerica and Northampton, ultimately hiring 10 people from Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Michigan.
But the most challenging part was deliberately injecting errors into each garment.
“These were not gorgeous, beautiful sweaters — these guys are rough, they knit them themselves, so there should be some errors, snags, some wear,” she said. “I found myself ripping it off the needle because I saw a mistake. And then I thought: ‘What are you doing? That’s the point!’ ”
Ryan Steele, a dancer in the ensemble, said the results are worthwhile. “Spending most of the show wearing my sweater is actually quite grounding and establishes a sort of tribe feeling among the men,” he said. “Also, it’s very, very warm.”