Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Yarn Eater is Hungry

...and it is eating up the yarn! It's also growing like crazy. I'm remembering the fun of doing a project in big, bulky yarns!

By Sunday, I had the collar done and started the yoke increases and the second stripe of colour. After the mix that I showed you in the swatch, I used my hand spun and a Malabrigo yarn that looked almost the same. (I didn't hold them together--I alternated them.)

My hand spun was not great to work with and was so overspun that I literally untwisted it as I worked. (Occasionally I would tie the yarn to the ball and let it dangle so all the trapped twist would spin out.)
When I had enough a wide enough stripe of that colour, I had to consider my next stripe. I wasn't convinced of the combination I was considering, so I actually swatched. You can see I tried a few variations (on the right in the picture above). I turns out the sock yarn I thought would work just had too much pink in it. Out it went!
Like in the turtle neck, I am stranding several yarns: green Malabrigo worsted, two strands of leftover brown sock yarn from my Anniversary socks, and the same pale yellow as in the turtle neck. Except I'm starting to run out of the pale yellow, so I'm alternating it with another scrap yellow I had. Hopefully I will have enough between the two of them to finish the stripe. If not, I will have to make something else up!

I am now down to the point of dividing for the sleeves (pictured above). This thing is going to be huge. Not so much oversized, but thick and plush. I don't know how often I'll wear it, but when I do, I'm sure I will love it: it is so big and cushy. Mmmmm. Like a big cocoon I can wrap myself up in!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Excitement is Starting a New Project!

I've been collecting up a group of yarns for a while now. A couple of years at least. I don't remember what got me started. Maybe just an excuse to buy yarns? I don't really think so, but wouldn't dare to say that I completely understand the mysterious workings of my own mind. :) The group certainly isn't in colours that I usually wear so it's hard to imagine how I got started.

This is the collection I pulled out last night:
I'll be using them from left to right. Some will be held together to make weight and to blend the colours. The bright yellow and green are Malabrigo that I had and threw in with the rest recently. Same with the yellow in the bag--that's some yarn I got at Squam.

Somehow I got the idea to make something from multiple yarns in different weights and types. Just mix it up in wide stripes of all these different yarns. The shape would have to be simple. I thought about a big rectangle folded in half with a neckhole and straight side seams. One thing holding me back was making a decision about what to actually do with it and the other was the thought of designing something--extra work and extra risk.

Then I saw this pattern:
It's another design by Stephen West who also designed the Mesa I did earlier this year. When I saw it, I right away thought of this yarn I have. I've been debating since the spring because I wasn't sure that I needed a big bulky turtleneck, but now that cooler weather is here it's not hard to imagine wearing it!!

I started swatching last night:
I really like the mix of colours--I'm knitting with all three of these yarns (two strands of the green lace). The resulting colour is nicer than any one of them.

That went so well (and quickly) that I cast on the sweater! Between last night and today I got the turtleneck done and have started the yoke increases, and the second colour. I'm using that little bit of my first handspun that I did during the Olympics.

This project has me just a little bit obsessed!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Making Four Into One

I saw a little baby hat pattern on the Ravelry Unravellers group a while ago and got an urge to make it recently. I considered my stash and decided to make it with some pale blue cashmere I have.
I dyed the sleeves from this sweater red, but I still had plenty of blue left. But it was very, very thin, even for a pattern calling for two strands of lace weight.

So I decided to ply a few strands together to get a thicker yarn.
Yes, I could have just held the strands together and knit with them that way. I often do. But I didn't want to in this case and considering I'm the only one in charge of my knitting, I do what I want. So after making a centre-pull ball from one of the hanks, I pulled the strand from the centre and the strand from the outside and twisted them together onto the drop spindle.

I did the calculations and thought 16 grams would finish the hat, so that's what I spun. (Or plied. I don't know if you're allowed to use the word "spin" when you're just plying.) Once I had two strands twisted together on the spindle, I wound it onto my niddy noddy (pictured above) and then wound the hank into a centre-pull ball.

Then I took the strand from the centre and the strand from the outside and twisted them together in the opposite direction. That way the twist stays put. I soaked it and let it dry and I had this:
It looked ok to me but as I worked with it, it seemed too loosely spun. I'm basing this on the fact that it would untwist as it ran through my fingers as I was knitting. I don't know for sure.

But it was still very enjoyable to knit with. The design has yarn-overs which often leave exposed yarn not caught up in a stitch and it looks better to be spun than individual strands.

I got close to finishing the hat, but I did run out of yarn. So I got out the drop spindle and did another 9 grams.
As I worked on it, I thought I gave it more twist than the first one (although I didn't want to make it too different) but it looks about the same in the picture. I'll see if there's any difference as I knit with it.

And here's a little look at the cap:
It's very sweet and I can't wait to get to the interesting edge stitch. I hope mine works up as well as the one in the pattern pictures!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Mesa Sweater: Final Wrap Up

This sweater has been finished for a while, and in fact I brought it to the Netherlands when I went in June. (We had unseasonably warm weather so I only wore it once!) Oh wait, I wore it twice because I got my mom to take some pictures of it for this very post on the beach on the island of Texel. But those pictures were on the camera that became lost. :(

But the weather has cooled down and I was able to face retaking some pictures, so it is time for a final wrap up.

I told you about ripping out the folded picot edging on the collar. I decided to go with a short roll over hem. That's a fancy-ish term for knitting a few rows of stockinette and letting it curl like it wants to:
The whole thing sits much better than the previous finish. I think the trick was to keep the edging very narrow.
The fit is much narrower on the body than the original pattern suggests, but I think it's one of the ways to keep this crazy design wearable in the regular world.
I really like wearing it, but it still is a little awkward. The sleeve joins are very low so any time I move my arms up even a little bit, the sweater rides up on my arms and I have to pull it back down. The shape of the stacked wedges makes it feel like the piece is falling off my one shoulder, but that is just something to get used to. I know some people only did four wedges instead of five but I decided I didn't want to go that far in taming the design.

I am still loving how the stripes lined up across the body and sleeves.

Speaking of sleeves, I finished them with a fold over hem:
Even though I reduced the number of stitches after the fold by 10% like Elizabeth Zimmermann tells me to, it's still a little bulky and bulges out a little. I still think it's a nice, neat finish. If memory serves, the pattern had you just end the sleeves and let them curl over (like my neck line) but I didn't want them to be "unfinished."

The bottom edge was finished with a garter band:
Since the whole bottom wedge is done in garter, it blends in nicely. I considered substituting stocking stitch (which I prefer) for the garter wedge, but couldn't face all the calculations of adjusting the short rows to account for the different row gauge. In the end I like it how it is.

All in all, a very satisfying knit.

Project Stats
Started
: 12 Apr '14
Finished: 21 May '14
Pattern: Enchanted Mesa by Stephen West ($12 in ebook with 2 other patterns)
Materials: Rowan Purelife British Sheep Breeds DK (1.6 skeins in colour 780); Evilla Longad (444 yards yellow/purple/brown/green and 220 yards blue/brown); and a wee bit of Appletons Old English Crewel Wool (54 yards) (~$30)

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