Archive | February, 2008

Wicked has a new owner…

28 Feb
Ignore the cat hair… just look at the true kitty love.

Goals

28 Feb

Sometimes it’s really hard to keep myself from casting on for 15 different projects at once.  I have to remind myself that I really hate the feeling I get when I’m overextended, and set goals for which the reward is starting something new.  I promised myself I could swatch for the Open Waters stole as soon as I finished the body for the hex cardigan.

Mission accomplished!  It occurs to me that I’m basically knitting one and a half of these sweaters, since I got through the first front on the other one before realizing my gauge tragedy.  This one measures just what I would like.  I’ve started on the first sleeve, and what a relief stockinette is after all those hexagons!

I have a lot of sweaters I would like to make soon, but I’ve decided that first I will start a shawl, since I have fewer of those in my wardrobe.  You may remember that I was planning on using Manos wool/silk blend for the Open Waters shawl, but it didn’t work out.  Instead, I’m using another lovely wool/silk blend.

Here is my swatch.

I can’t get over how pretty this yarn is – it looks like all the colors of the rainbow reflecting on black.  I may make a few modifications to the pattern, but I’m not sure yet.   The swatch, once blocked, gets gauge perfectly on size 8 needles.  The reason I have yarn through the top is that it’s knit at a slightly looser gauge than the yarn calls for, and it distorts the measurements if I bind off, at least in such a small piece.  I will also need to cast on with larger needles.  The pattern calls for Lion & Lamb, but this is about half the price, and I like the color selection better.

Trying again…

24 Feb

My long (ok, 3 days) period of no knitting is over… I have swatched (this time in pattern!) and cast on again for the Hexacomb Cardigan.

I’m using Rowan Calmer in a color that is slightly more gray than it looks here.  It’s a beautiful color.  I am knitting to 5.5 st/in instead of the 5 st/in called for in the pattern, so I’m knitting a size up from my usual.  Calmer is lovely to knit with, and the stitch definition is of course excellent.  I’m going to have to knit the sleeves with a size smaller needle, since they are in stockinette and I get a large gauge over this stitch pattern.  Doesn’t that seem crazy?  I’m hoping for more success this time, because I’m not going to give it a third try!

I’m also faced, for the very first time, with needing some sort of baby gift.  Marc’s cousin is having a baby in April, so I’ve started the Tiramisu Blanket from Posie Gets Cozy.

It’s not the most exciting thing ever to crochet, but I’m sure it will be really lovely when finished.  This is Cotton Ease in Ice Blue, one of the old discontinued colors.   I had planned this for a sweater, but when I realized I needed something for a baby boy I changed my mind.   Ask me how I feel about this project after 30″ of single crochet… but for now I’m enthusiastic about the end product!

In remembrance… Wicked

23 Feb

Thanks so much to everyone who commented on my comfi cardi – I may not be able to respond to each comment, but you all have made me feel so special! I took the advice in the comments and tried wearing the cardigan with a long sleeved shirt underneath – much better with the arms! I wore it to work on Wednesday and was complimented, and it is indeed very comfy.

I had some sadness this week… the very first death of a handknit. Yes, my Wicked sweater has met a sad end – a combination of pilly yarn, a washing machine, a wool hungry cat, and my own really lousy job of binding off. Here we are in happier times…

*Sniff* Seriously though… if anyone tries to give you a bag of discontinued Debbie Bliss Merino Aran, just say no! I have never had any sweater, handmade or storebought, wear so terribly. And then, of course, the cat pictured in the photo decided to nearly chew a hole in it during blocking, and finally my crappy bind-off came loose in the washer, and I had to accept that the sweater’s time had come.

There is a bright side though… I had been wanting to make a sweater out of Dream in Color Classy, but I couldn’t find a design I wanted to knit that would show off the yarn (I think handpaints look best in plain stockinette.) I had even thought about another Wicked, but then I couldn’t bring myself to own two… problem solved! Now the only problem is choosing a color… my LYS only has Smooshy, so I’ll have to order online. Any color recommendations?

I had a little knitting mishap this week… the first time in a long time that I have had gauge bite me. I swatched twice for the hexacomb cardigan, and then went with the smaller needle in case the gauge was bigger in the stitch pattern. The body should measure a little over 16″ across for my size.

Oops. Apparently my gauge is much looser in the stitch pattern. Lesson learned – even though the pattern said to swatch in stockinette, you can’t always assume that will work out in the sweater. The gauge ended up 4 st/in instead of 5 st/in (give or take… anyway, it’s too big.) On the bright side (again) I was not really loving this yarn knit up into the pattern – it wasn’t showing the pattern enough for my taste, and was somewhat inelastic. So I’m going to try again, but I’m going to swatch in pattern, and I’m going to use a different yarn – something with a little more “spring” perhaps. I’ll swatch a few yarns in stash and see what I like. I’m sure it will be for the best!

These problems have been discouraging me a bit these past few days. My lush cardigan is also stalled – I am not happy with the sleeve cap I have finished, but I can’t seem to bring myself to rip it yet, since I can’t decide if I’m being too picky or not… besides, I think I need a break from following the (uncharted) lace pattern. I’ve been doing some swatching, trying to decide what I want to make next. We’re in that weird period where it’s too cold to wear spring clothes still, but you don’t want to start anything for winter, in case that encourages it to stick around. I’m thinking this might be a good time to go ahead and crochet another sweater – Joy and short and sweet are both ready to start, even if I won’t be able to wear them for a bit.

I’m thinking about starting this though… so pretty.

Unfortunately, the yarn isn’t going to work for the pattern.  I must have been blinded by the pretty, and didn’t notice that this yarn is DK… but isn’t it pretty?  I’ll find something else and hopefully start this pattern soon!

I sound so scattered, don’t I? Ah well… it’s the time of year I suppose. We’re approaching Easter, which is super busy for me. I have a little drama going on with work etc, and that stresses me out. I am very ready for spring, but instead we had an ice storm on Thursday (on the bright side, Marc got to leave work at 10 am, so we got to spend one of my days off together, which is rare.)

Now I will go watch Dr. Who and swatch… hopefully that will work its magic, and I’ll find something to work on that excites me!

FO: Comfi Cardi

19 Feb

Pattern: Comfy Cardi from Crochet Me: Designs the Fuel the Crochet Revolution

Yarn: Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, 10 skeins

Hook: US C Clover Soft touch

Size made: 32

Notes: I cannot for the life of me decide what I want to say about this one.  Yes, the arms are too big (a common problem for me – no more sweaters without set in sleeves or at least a raglan!)  But on the other hand… I’m darned proud that I actually managed to finish this thing.  And it’s totally wearable too – it’s work appropriate, soft, and relatively warm.  I really enjoyed every second of making it.  But those sleeves… I advise anyone making this thing to measure yourself carefully, and then consider if you need to adjust the size.  They are huuuuge on me, more so than they look in the pictures.  Still, my Dollar and a half cardigan has huge sleeves too, and I wear it every week.  And yay- I finished a crocheted sweater – I even crocheted the ribbing!  It’s not as neat looking as knitted ribbing, but it is surprisingly stretchy (my last experience with crocheted ribbing went very badly, but I think I didn’t really get the concept.)  I’m not sure if I would crochet the ribbing again, but in this case I was glad not to have to pick up a billion stitches around the edges – Briar rose is a nearly identical shape, and I hated doing the ribbing on that one.

I will crochet more sweaters… this was fun, and it gave my hands a nice break from the constant knitting that goes on around here!  On the list: Joy from Rowan 41, something from  Everyday Crochet, Short and Sweet, and a few others.   I want to get better at adjusting the patterns to fit me – as I remind myself, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and I made some darned poorly fitted sweaters when I started knitting!

The pain of substitution

18 Feb

One of the main reasons that I so often have extra yarn to sell is that I rarely use the yarn called for in a pattern. And since I refuse to force a yarn to work where it doesn’t want to, I often end up with yarn I bought as a substitution that just doesn’t work for some reason. Sometimes I end up using this yarn for another project, but more often I hold a grudge against it for not working the way I wanted.

My current yarn sub problem is for the printed silk cardigan in the new IK. I’m not buying the called for yarn, which is too expensive, and at any rate would pill in about 10 seconds. But I’m having some trouble finding a yarn to work. I bought silk from Colourmart, but I think it isn’t the right yarn for the pattern.

First of all, let me state that it’s lovely yarn, and really a great bargain at the price. However, in no way should this yarn be called DK weight. I’m not even sure it qualifies as a sport weight. The swatch above is 26 st/ 4 inches, and it’s a little on the loose side for my taste. I really think it should be knit to 28 st/in. This yarn is made up of many tiny strands of their laceweight silk twisted together. It’s a little splitty, but not excessively so, at least in the stockinette swatch above. However, I tried swatching the twisted stitch pattern, and oh my lord… I stared at my hands and still managed to snag plies of the yarn. I did learn, though, that the pattern is not as complicated as it looks, and it won’t be a problem with the right yarn, ie one that doesn’t split!

I think this yarn could work for the sweater, but overall I think it would irritate me. I’m also not so enamoured of the color, mostly because it’s too similar to the color of the comfi cardi I’m making right now, even though it is really pretty.

As for my yarn search, it continues. I know now that the stitch pattern will look best knitted tightly, which is why the gauge is so small even though la luz is a dk weight yarn. My problem is that I have trouble knitting tightly – I wanted to use Shine Sport, but I cannot get 25 st/ 4 in with that yarn no matter how hard I try, and it’s an actual sport weight! I may try a few swatches and see if I can ever manage that gauge with a dk weight yarn, although I have my doubts.

In happier news, my Comfi cardi is nearly finished! I tried to get a picture, but the cat had other ideas.

I’ve actually completed half the ribbing since I took the photo, and I expect to finish it tonight!

And also… I am ashamed to admit that I started another sweater. It’s the hexacomb cardigan from the new IK.

The yarn is Classic Elite 4 seasons, and this is an example of a yarn that subbed easily. It’s actually more yellow than it looks here, and it’s going to be great for spring!

I haven’t touched the lush cardigan, but as soon as I finish the comfi cardi I will go ahead and finish it up. I always feel sort of scattered when I have this many projects, so I want to focus on them one at a time to actually get them done.

Slacker

14 Feb

I’m a slacker on posting this week, although not on crocheting or knitting.

My comfi cardi grows steadily – you see how the piece is constructed here?  It’s really an interesting way to construct a crocheted sweater.  I can’t wait until it all comes together.  Yesterday I crocheted on this for hours and hours, and I finally feel like it’s getting closer to the end!

This is somewhere over 1/2 of the Lush cardigan completed.  I won’t attempt the math, but it is closer!  I’m still nervous about my yarn, because I think it is going to be close – I hope I make it!  I’m not happy with the seams on that shoulder – I found one of the directions for the sleeve to be confusing, and then I couldn’t figure out where a measurement was pointing on the schematic, so I don’t know if I did it right, resulting in major easing in of the sleeve.  It looks fine on, so I’ll probably leave it, but I wish I could figure out whether it’s me or the pattern!  I also haven’t sewn in the pockets yet, because I’m nervous about the sewing, but I will be ok.

The first of the Knitting Daily galleries are up for Spring, and I’m happy that one of the models has similar measurements to me.  It makes deciding on sizes much easier – I’m thinking I won’t have to invent a smaller size for either the flutter sleeve cardigan or the printed silk cardigan.   The entire reason why I almost always need negative ease is because my waist is much smaller than my bust, and I swim in larger sizes, but the empire silhouette negates this problem.  My only question about the flutter sleeve cardigan is the extra fabric at the armpit, but I think that’s caused by knitting the sleeves with the body, and seems to be there with most of the models.  I don’t love the Mirabella cardigan, thank goodness, because I have enough to knit – I don’t look great in sweaters that button all the way down, I find.

Speaking of the Printed silk cardigan, I decided on a yarn sub (and I am so excited about this sweater!)  I ordered DK weight silk from Colourmart in a pretty purple.  I really wanted a silk sweater, and honestly it was cheap.  I’ve never ordered from them before, but I have heard good things, so I hope it works out (if not, I’m pretty sure I can find a use for pretty silk yarn!)

We went to Actor’s Theatre tonight to see The Clean House.  It was excellent – both funny and touching, with some very nice performances.   I wore my Karaoke Clapotis and was nice and warm, even though it was cold in the theatre, and even though we are currently experiencing some icy weather (let us not talk about how long it took to scrape off my car today.)  I love my shawls and wraps, but I don’t often make them for the simple reason that I find giant rectangles to be pretty boring to knit.  I went looking for non boring shawls, and rediscovered the designs of Ilga Leja.  You may recall that I bought her Lake of the woods kit (last photo below), which I have yet to make, but I swear to you that it will be mine for spring!  Her new collection has pieces named after opera heroines, which I love because I am an opera fan.  In particular I am in love with Manon.

 

I love the uneven edges and the ruching.  It’s so unusual, and it doesn’t look like it would bore me to death.  I have several other of her designs in my queue, including the Open Waters shawl and her Antique lace blouse (there are some pretty ones on Ravelry!)   I’m willing to admit that I’m not really a lace shawl person – oh, don’t get me wrong, I would wear them, but I don’t want to knit them… but I want shawls, pretty shawls that aren’t made of laceweight yarn and don’t take ages of careful concentration to knit (I tend to knit while deeply involved in Dr Who or some such program, so anything that needs a silent room is not for me…. which is my problem.  I want interesting but not too interesting, you know?  Clapotis was great for me, if a bit boring at the end, but I think 2 of them are my limit.

So I swear… sometime this spring some of these shawls are going to happen for me, in some lovely silk/wool blends.  And then I will have lots of pretty things to wear to the theater, which I keep swearing we need to do more often, as we both love going!

Everyday Crochet: Book Review

9 Feb

I’ve had several kind people email me to ask me about how Leon is doing, so I thought I would give an update.

He turns out to have crystals in his urine (poor kitty!)  We’ve had to switch him to special food, and he promptly went on a hunger strike for 3 days.  I can’t say I blame him… the name “urinary so” does not exactly seem appetizing.  In fact, the only way he was willing to eat for awhile was if I actually fed him the new food.  But he’s better now, if not exactly happy, and we’ve bought him one of those kitty water fountains to encourage him to drink lots of water.   I’m just glad we got him to the vet before the condition got really serious.  If you have a cat (especially a male) be aware of this condition – I wasn’t, because I’ve always had female cats before.

Thank you to everyone who asked after him – I’m sure he appreciates it when I tell him people are worried!

I was really happy to get my copy of the new IK yesterday afternoon.  I’ve already posted my thoughts on most of the designs, but I do have a few surprising dislikes and likes.  I don’t really care for the cover sweater – I think it’s all that reverse stockinette, plus it is similar to several other sweaters in the issue I like better.  I surprisingly like the Aleita shell, and I’m trying to think up a good yarn substitute.  The hexacomb cardigan is even prettier larger, as is the printed silk cardigan – I must find a sub yarn for that one, I simply love it!  I love the flutter sleeved cardigan as well, although I do have a dilemma… do I go with the smallest size (36) or try to make a smaller one?  I think I will wait to see it modeled in the Knitting Daily galleries (don’t you love those?) so I can see if it will fit me.  It is a pretty forgiving style.

I liked the camisole enough to assign it yarn.  I know the lace panel is impractical, but I love the style, and I won’t wear it without a tank underneath anyway.  All in all it may be one of my favorite Interweave issues ever!

I’m still knitting on my sweaters, and getting nervous about running out of yarn for the lush cardigan – but that’s ok if I do, I can always find something to order from WEBs, right?  For instance, I’ve been amassing  Mission Falls wool for an afghan for awhile.  Here’s what I have so far:

I’m still not sure if I want to do the block a month CAL yet or not… I like the idea, but will I like the finished product?

Today I am wearing my “Not so shrunken” cardigan made of Silky Wool.  Everytime I wear it I get to wondering why I don’t use this yarn more, since I think it’s so lovely to wear.  I now have 3 sweaters worth of the stuff, but I do have plans!  Tangled yoke cardigan, the feather and fan sweater from the new Classic Elite “Make it modern” book, and… something.  Maybe a shawl.

Ok, enough of the pretty, and onto my book review!

Everyday Crochet by Doris Chan

I didn’t really get Doris Chan’s last book, Amazing Crochet Lace, so I approached this one with some trepidation, fearing more giant doilies (I like doilies, but I like them in their proper size.)  This book was a real surprise to me – it’s full of lovely wearable designs, without an exploded doily in sight!  In the forward to the book, Doris Chan explains how the garments are constructed – top down – and talks a bit about how to tailor them to your body type.   She also explains why all the designs in the book use some variation of the shell stitch, something which in my opinion is the limitation of the book.  She comes across as very enthusiastic and encouraging in the introduction, and I was anxious to get along to the designs.

There are (IMO) very few missteps in the book.  Nearly all the designs are tastefully done, made of smooth yarn (not a fun fur in sight!) and are well fitted to the models.  Many of the designs share the same beginning steps, and she then explains how to vary the designs to get different sweaters.  It’s very approachable for the crocheter looking to branch out into wearables for the first time.

The yarns used vary from expensive (Tahki  new tweed) to cheap (Simply soft shadows) but in general probably fall more on the pricey end.  This, for me, is really nice, because it breaks the stereotype that crochet must be made of acrylic yarns.  She even talks about the properties of different types of yarns, and I am intrigued (for instance) by the thought of using a bamboo yarn to crochet – think of the nice drape!

The book is divided into several sections – pullovers, cardigans, vests, jackets, and belts.  All except the last section are excellent.  The pullover section contains 2 nice tanks, variations of one another, and a few pullover sweaters, including one (Jewel) which I have seen a really pretty version of on ravelry.

The cardigans are my favorites, which is unfortunate because it is here that the sizing breaks down.  Most items in the book have a finished small size of around 33″, which is fine, but the cardigans are several inches larger.  I can probably get around this by using a thinner yarn, but it is disappointing.  Fortunately, the ones I like are somewhat versatile in fit.  They all employ either ties or a type of button hook that the book shows you how to make.  I love Mei Mei (the cover sweater above) as well as the two cardigans below.

These sweaters are from the vest section, and are (imo) just lovely, especially the one with the cowl neck (this is the simply soft shadows sweater… how lovely, I would totally wear that!)  I actually have 2 balls of that yarn, in that exact color, although I don’t know that I really want a simply soft tunic.

Was anyone else as big a fan of the Mary Tyler Moore show as I was?  I still love watching it, and I always wished I was a Rhoda, although truthfully I’m probably a Mary.  This may explain why I am so attracted to the vests below:

I don’t say that in a derogatory way… Rhoda would have totally rocked that vest to the right, and she would have been fierce, yes?  I, however, as a Mary… not so much.  I could probably handle the scaled down version to the left.

I’m giving this book a firm recommendation.  The sizing isn’t the greatest at the smaller end, but it isn’t terrible.  Most of the garments are pretty and wearable.  There are a lot of shells, but she varies the treatment enough that it doesn’t get repetitive.  If you’re a crocheter looking for pretty, wearable sweaters, this is worth a purchase.

I’m planning several sweaters, starting with the first cardigan I showed (the one with the ties) out of Valley Yarns Southwick (I really want to try crochet with bamboo!)

Progress and swatches (continued)

6 Feb

I’m making slow but steady progress on both of my sweater WIPs, especially now that I’ve done away with all my other WIPs.  I’ve finished the back and half a sleeve of the lush cardigan.

It even looks pretty in pieces!  The sizing seems to be working out the way I wanted it to, so I’m happy that my dodgy maths are working out.  I’ve also completed the back of the comfy cardi, but it is not constructed the same way as the lush sweater.

This sweater is constructed all in one piece, to avoid any bulky shoulder seams.  In order to achieve this, I am adding chains onto the sleeves every row and then crocheting into the chains, resulting in a sweater that is now nearly 3x the width of the back by itself (I have done more since this photo was taken.)   This seems like it will make nice tapered sleeves, but it takes about 19 years to complete a row (ok, maybe 40 minutes, but it seems like ages.)  I don’t care though, because I’m still having a lot of fun with this one, even if it is disproving that whole “crochet is super fast” thing.  I’m debating whether I’m going to do crocheted or knitted ribbing, when I get to that point.  I’m leaning towards knitted, but it will depend on how the sweater fits.

Now I want to finish up the rest of the swatches I made this weekend.  I’m so glad to hear that many of you enjoy the swatch posts – I was a little afraid it was boring, but they’re very useful for me!  Even if I lose a swatch I can still dig up the pertinent information on the blog.

I did have a question about how I swatch, so I thought I would mention that.  I keep 2 or so rows of garter stitch and the beginning and end of the swatch, and I also keep the outer 2 stitches on each side in garter stitch while I knit.  This keeps the swatch from curling when I go to measure it.  I also tie knots in the waste yarn to indicate the needle size used – ie 7 knots for a size 7 needle.  This has really saved me a few times.  My swatches are usually wide enough (around 4 inches) but I rarely knit a 4″ tall swatch, since I don’t usually need that accurate of a row gauge.  This has never bitten me, so I feel ok about it.  Any swatch is better than no swatch, so don’t feel compelled to knit a giant swatch if you don’t want to.   I wash everything, because I often find that I get a change in gauge after the yarn has been wet.

Yarn: Berroco Naturlin in Cinnamon

Notes: I get 6.25 st/in on US 2 needles using this yarn.  It may have shrunk a tiny, tiny bit during washing.  This yarn is a blend of linen and rayon, and I really think it’s a lovely a successful blending.  It has the crispness of linen, but the shine and drape of rayon.  It’s easier on the hands than knitting with 100% linen, which was my aim here.  I’m going to knit the tuxedo top from last summer’s IK.  I was not initially attracted to the pattern because of the icky putty color it was knit in, but I’ve since seen some really lovely ones.  The color palette this yarn comes in isn’t too exciting, although there is a nice indigo, but it does come in some nice warm neutrals.

Yarn: Valley Yarns Southwick in Iguana

Notes: I have now sampled all the Valley Yarns cotton blends, and this is my favorite.  It’s a cotton/bamboo blend with a lovely drape.  It is knitted here to 5 st/in on US 5 needles – it grew during blocking, so this would need to be accounted for.  It feels cool and lovely to knit with, and it is only slightly splitty, unlike some bamboo yarns (RYC bamboo soft… I’m looking at you!)  This color is extremely green, but I think I like it… maybe.  My kitchen is this color, and I feel the same way about it.   I’m considering using this to make one of the crocheted cardigans from Everyday Crochet.  One of them is crocheted in bamboo, and it has a lovely drape, plus I think this yarn would give me the smaller size I need.

Yarn: Valley Yarns longmeadow in Seafoam

Notes: I’ve swatched this yarn before, but this is a better color for me.  It’s an ok cotton blend, not too stiff and with a slight sheen from the non-cotton fiber (I think it’s modal?)  This is knitted to a little over 5 st/in on US 5 needles, and it could be knitted a little tighter I think.  It did not change size during blocking.  It isn’t my favorite, but it’s perfectly serviceable, and the price is excellent.

Yarn: Valley Yarns Goshen in Peach

Notes: I’ve always heard that redheads can wear peach, but I never have.  I’m testing that theory out with this yarn, but I’m unconvinced that I can wear it.   I’m just never sure about pastels… It’s a lovely blend, soft and easy to knit, with a pretty sheen from the silk.   It knits to 4.5 st/in on US 7 needles, and it remained utterly unaffected by wet blocking.  I’m not sure what I will make with this yarn, but I am looking forward to using it!

Yarn: Cotton Ease in Ice Blue

Notes: I have knit a sweater from Cotton Ease before (the drops cardigan I mentioned yesterday under the 4 seasons cotton) but it was a total disaster.  The stitches were uneven and weird, and the whole thing turned out ginormous.  I was puzzled, since everyone loved cotton ease so much – why was my experience so awful?  Well, as it turns out… cotton ease grows when you wash it, and I knit the swatch for that sweater in my pre swatch washing days.  I got 4.5 st/in before washing, on US 7, and after washing it’s 4.25 st/in.  The sweater I made before, which watched at 17 st/4 in before washing, became 16 st/4 in after.  Oops.  I also think cotton ease looks better knit more tightly than the ball band recommends.  I will go down to US 6 needles when I use this.  I’m thinking of Manon from Norah Gaughan vol 1 – there are several pretty ones knit of cotton ease, and it has great stitch definition.

Yarn: Classic Elite Premiere

Notes: Is it possible for a yarn to be too soft?  This yarn is causing me to question that.  It’s so soft that it’s hard to keep even tension, although it appears to have all evened out in blocking.  It did not change size – I got 5.5 st/in on US 5 needles with no effort.  This is easily the softest yarn I have ever used, no joke – if you’re looking for an ultra soft cotton blend, this is your yarn!  I want to use this for the dayflower top – I’m sure it will have a lovely drape, as you can see in the pattern photos.  My last comment is to be careful winding this – I really question the wisdom of selling it the way that it is wound, because it doesn’t hold its shape in a centerpull ball even a little.

Yarn: Ella Rae Silkience

Notes: Blame the superbowl sunday sale at the Knit Nook… I somehow came away with 10 balls of this yarn in a lovely brown.  It knits to a little over 20 st/in on size 5 needles, before blocking the gauge was 21 st/4 inches.   It’s nice and soft to work with – in fact, I’m surprised to see it on clearance at so many stores, since it is a reasonably priced blend.  I got it for 30% off, which I was happy about.  I want to make a nice neutral cardigan, and I am thinking of several that use reverse stockinette stitch.  Reverse stockinette, in my opinion, almost always looks best in a dark color, and in a drapey yarn.  Some people say wool, but my wool sweaters are crazy uneven on the inside.  What does this one look like?

Looks fine to me – the ridge at the top is from the garter stitch.  This yarn does have a little haze from the silk, as you can see, but it isn’t as apparent in real life as in these photos.

And… that’s all.   Except for the naturlin (which isn’t too awful, but still) these are all budget friendly yarns, proving once again that it’s possible to use lovely yarns without going bankrupt!

All I do is swatch

4 Feb

Yes, I will confess it… I have bought yarn again.  And nothing makes me happier, when I buy a new yarn, that making little swatches to see what tension it is happiest being knitted to.  This weekend I mostly swatched.  I did work a little on the comfy cardi, and it is beginning to grow sleeves now… but it is a little slow going because I want to not injure my wrists.  I am about 10 rows away from being finished with the back of the lush cardigan, and it will be done this afternoon.  I knitted on my glove, finished it, decided I would not wear it, and put it away.  Last night I did not knit at all, because my husband’s friend John was over to watch the superbowl, and I was banished from my usual knitting spot in the living room (I could have watched, but I hate watching sports… don’t get me started.)  But more than that, I was happily engaged in swatching.  Even my husband noticed and said “You made all those this weekend?”  Some of these yarns are new, some of them aren’t, but they all needed swatching so that I can happily plan projects!

Today I will talk about wool/cotton blends, one of my favorites.  Mixing the two fibers together seems to give you the better qualities of both – the lightness and stretch of wool with the coolness of cotton.  I have made a point to buy several of them lately to try out.

Yarn: O-wool Balance in Lapis

Notes: For some reason, I ordered this yarn being convinced that it was going to be purple.  When it arrived and was blue, I put it away because it was not what I wanted.  But when I saw the new IK preview I knew it would be perfect for the flutter sleeved cardi, and I was not disappointed.  It knits to 5 st/in on size 6 needles for me, with only a negligible amount of growth after blocking.  This is not a soft yarn, and I did note several bits of vegetable matter as I knitted – I think you can still see one above.  This doesn’t bother me, but I know for some it would not be good.  I love the tweedy appearance, and the swatch feels very lightweight.  It will make an excellent sub for Classic Elite Classic Silk (now if only my magazine would arrive!)

Yarn: Rowan Wool Cotton in Ship Shape.

Notes: While the O-wool balance feels very much like cotton, in Rowan wool cotton the wool is the dominant fiber.  The yarn is soft and springy, with a slight shine to the finished project.  I loved knitting with this and can’t wait to use it for a project – I have wanted to try it forever, but I think it’s kind of expensive.  I’m going to use it to knit Anais from Norah Gaughan vol 1 – I have wanted to knit that since it came out, but it seemed kind of silly for winter wear to me.  I plan to improvise some different sleeves, because I don’t care for the webs, although I love the webbing around the neckline.  I experienced significant stretch after blocking – I would need to knit on a size smaller needles (in my case US 3) and depend on it growing after blocking.

Yarn: Mirasol Cotanani in Emerald

Notes: If you don’t know about the Mirasol Project you can read about it here.  The aims of the project seem to be admirable.  And this yarn… it’s very nice.  Soft and slightly lofty, it’s the softest of the wool/cotton blends I have tried.  I do have one beef though… it claims to be DK weight, but… not so much for me.  The swatch above (small because it wasn’t working out) is slightly over 5 st/in on US 5 needles.    The ball band states a gauge of 22 stitches over 4 inches, but I think 19-20 might be more accurate.  That’s ok, because I love the yarn, but it would be frustrating if I had a specific project in mind.  As it is, I’m thinking about making the corset cover from Veronik Avery’s Knitting Classic Style.  There aren’t any finished ones on Ravelry, but I think it looks like a cute piece, both for layering or as a tank.

Yarn: Classic Elite 4 seasons in Lemon Butter

Notes: Mmm… lemon butter.  This is a good basic yarn, which again knits up at 5 st/in for me on US 6 needles.   It has an utterly matte finish, and is reasonably soft and easy to knit with.  It has a firm feeling that makes me think it would take well to textured or cabled patterns.  I’m thinking of the Hexacomb Cardigan, the 2nd project I want to make from the new IK (ahead of myself? well, yes…)  This is an unusual color for me, but I look good in pale yellow, and I want to replace this cardigan, which I made last year.  Oh sure… it looks sort of cute in the photos, but they don’t show what an uneven mess the gauge is, or how enormously bulky the seams are.  I only wear it around the house, but I love the color, so I think I will try again.

Whew… that’s enough for one day!  Coming soon… even more swatches, progress on my 2 sweaters, and a review of Everyday Crochet by Doris Chan.

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