Thursday, February 13, 2014

Sweater Plans

It's a snowday and I'm in a fog from the cold medication I'm taking. Too spacey to knit so I thought I'd do a blog post before it gets to be a year since the last one!
Trying to knit sweaters that I'm happy with, as in a perfect blend of yarn and fit. The Sticks and Stones sweaters I knit for Kenny and I were both successful! The Sprig, not so much. The yarn was scratchy and the fit was wrong. Sleeves too short and tight (my fault-wrong needle size) and the neck was too wide. I liked the sweater and will try it again, with mods and more attention to needle size. I have been on a  roll with using the wrong needle size. Had to reknit a sleeve in Kenny's sweater, and one of the upper fronts on my Sticks and Stones. So rather than start a project today on the wrong needles, I'm blogging.
I have an abundance of yarn for sweaters and think this is the year to dig in. I have read, taken a workshop, and the Craftsy class for Amy Herzog's Knit to Flatter. Also Ysolda Teague's class on Your Perfect Sweater last year through Squam Arts. All of this has given me the confidence to press on.  I've knit a few sweaters recently, but also frogged a few as well. Not afraid to frog, but it would be nice to get it right the first time. Rocky Coast was frogged, and I used the Shelter to knit Romy, which is not the best blend of fit, yarn and buttons (but I still wear it).
So here are my thoughts/plans in not particular order.

Laurel brought me yarn from Peru. Alpaca DK in a red and a green. 1,200 yards each.
Simple Ziggurat by Asa Tricosa 
           I bought some St. Denis Nordique for this on sale from Webs last year, three colors

Same Same but Different by Ankestrick This one is ready to start in Madelinetosh merino light I bought from Spinning Yarns last year. It has contiguous sleeves.

Autumn's End pullover by Alana Dakos in Botanical Knits. Also in a green St. Denis Nordique from Webs

Lorna Suzanne by Ellen Mason nice cardi with a collar, lace panels going to try it with the Rowan Denim I bought years ago for a cabled sweater. Will have to play around with the swatches
because it shrinks.

Highlander by Anne Hanson this one is also ready to go, I swatched last weekend and just need to wind up the rest of the Dream in Color Classy for it. Liked this after studying it in Anne
Hanson's Craftsy Class.

Sprig pullover by Alana Dakos as above, but this time in the Pashmina Worsted that I just got from my summer order at Spinning Yarns. This yarn is so soft there won't be an itch factor and I know how to make the neck fit better. Still need to swatch for this one.

Acorn Trail by Amy Herzog I may get this one as a Custom Fit pattern. Bought some Valley Yarns Amherst in a lilac color (a Pantone spring color) nice cabled cardigan

Twigs and Willows by Alana Dakos I'll use the Owl that I frogged from the first Sprig.

Devonshire by Pam Powers cardi with a single button from 2011 Twist, looks like a good match with Woobu I bought for it awhile ago.

Every Last Yard by Amy Swenson is a cardi with a lacey lower third. I think it would
work in the Everlasting that I have 1,100 yards of.

So that's the list! There are a few more but they've been in my queue for so long I'm not going to mention them.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Fun Fiber Saturday

Great day! I got to watch sheep being sheered at the Triple G Farm in York, and then went to the grand opening of Saco River Yarns in Biddeford. What a wonderful resource for Maine. I got a tour of the dyeworks, saw Hannah Fettig and Clara Parkes ( but was too shy to introduce myself), saw the Great White Bale,  and bought just enough Quince&co yarn to do some swatching. I'm into yarn tasting instead of big stash additions. Lovely folks, I'll be back.
Dye Room (Ghosty person is due to HD+)
Skeins in waiting

Swatching Yarns!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

More Swatching

I realized that I knit all of Beth's swatches in the wrong lace pattern. Oh well! At least she will be able to determine which fabric she likes the best. Here is the new swatch with the correct lace pattern. I think this one will be much easier (less noticeable) to graft in the center back.
 This swatch with knit on size 5 needles, and I like it better than the earlier swatch.

Silk Mohair in Second Lace Pattern

Northfield DK
FibraNatura Oak

The Perfect Sweater Class is wonderful, except I wish I had more time to devote to it during the week. I did manage to get pretty well caught up yesterday. Swatched the FibraNatura Oak (got gauge on 3's) and the Northfield DK (didn't get gauge on 5's), both from Webs. The Northfield is merino, alpaca, and silk and knit up as a smoother fabric than the Oak (merino, silk, and linen). I like the Northfield and was glad that it didn't grow when lung with weights. I'd like to use it for another project sometime. I had purchased enough Oak for this sweater because it was on sale, and that influenced my decision. It looks like a more casual relaxed sweater fabric. I also made incomplete swatches of Everlasting DK and Cotton Fleece that I had lying around. They were both more toward the worsted end of the spectrum and would have needed more swatching to get gauge. I knew I wasn't going to order more of that yarn, so I unraveled the swatches. I did wash and hang these two. There was happily no change after hanging for at least 8 hours. 
Oak on 3's and Northfield on 5's
This weeks focus was on fit. I hooked Kenny into taking my measurements and have started to make my own croquis, or sketch of me, that I can draw on to get an idea of what might work on my body. I have to get a lot better at drawing on the iPad to make this very useful!
All of the focus on fit has helped me figure out what size to use for Kenny's Sticks and Stones pullover. It should officially go on the needles this week.

Saturday, March 9, 2013


I am getting ready to knit a shrug for my nephew's fiancee. Beth picked the pattern, Posh Wedding Shrug, and I knit 6 different swatches to send off to her. It worked in well for an assignment with Ysolda's Perfect Sweater class.
I wanted to give Beth a range of fabrics so she could choose the one that felt right to her. I sent them off this morning and am looking forward to her response. We felt that a shrug would work better than a shawl because of the detail on her dress, and a shrug is much less fussy to wear. This was a fun experiment and I feel like I am getting to know Beth in a more personal way than I would by just sending her a gift.  I want to play around more with the gauge of the fabric and weighted drape, but wanted to wait until Beth gives me her choice. Then I can focus on that yarn specifically. The swatches have 35 stitches each, with a 2 stitch garter edge on each side and 5 pattern repeats (with the exception of the mohair). I knit each swatch on size 7 (4.5 mm) or 8 (5 mm) needles. I washed all of the swatches and let them air dry. An added benefit to making so many swatches is that I memorized the pattern, only making one mistake, so now I know what to watch out for.

Lana Gatto Silk Mohair
 This is a 25% silk/ 75% mohair blend. It was knit on 7  bamboo needles. It is as light as a feather. I would like to try knitting it on smaller needles to give the fabric a bit more body as well as showing off the pattern with more stitch definition. Although with this much mohair there isn't going to be too much stitch definition. I love the feel of this swatch, but it was definitely the most difficult to work with.

The Cotton Bam Boo was my first swatch. It was knit on size 8 needles. The fabric is soft and would be comfortable next to the skin. It has serious drape and I expect it will stretch and grow. If Beth chooses this one I would swatch on smaller needles to get a more dense fabric with better stitch definition and really test it for growth. She wants the shrug to cover her back, not the dress.

 This is Cascade 220 superwash. I chose to swatch it because several shrugs had been knit with it on the Ravelry project page. It is not very exciting. It's soft, has decent stitch definition and would be comfortable, but it feels like a sweater, not a garment that would go with a wedding dress. This is the swatch where I learned about the potential mistakes I can make with this pattern. I ordered some Knit Picks Shine as a back up for this one if Beth picks it. I think the Shine will have a bit more "shine" and elegance.
This one was a complete whim.  Ripple is a cotton thick and thin yarn. The thick parts are woven, making it like a tape with thin parts. The fabric is a bit crunchy and it has zero stitch definition, but I like this one a lot. This swatch is certainly not boring. I used size 7 needles which I think are about right for this yarn. It was very strange to knit with, hard to tell if you had knit or purled at times. If Beth chooses this one I'll have to play around with drape, weighting the swatch.
Tiara is a wool and mohair blend with beads and sequins in the yarn. When I bought this one, it was the most expensive of all the yarns, I thought this would be the one. But I wasn't as impressed as I thought I would be. The beads and sequins do add drama, but the stitch definition is just okay. The biggest issue I have with it is the color. This was the "creamiest" of all the yarns and I'm afraid it would look yellow. If Beth likes the bling I would be happy to add beads to any of the other yarns, except the Ripple!

The last swatch is Sunseeker. A cotton yarn with what looks like a mylar thread going through it. You don't really notice the sparkle unless you are right on top of it. I knit the swatch on size 7 needles. It's okay, looks more sporty than I would like. Being cotton it may grow when it is worn, so I would need to do more swatching if this is Beth's pick. I think it would be cute as a shrug for a summer dress, but it doesn't have the bridal flair I was looking for.

So, what have I learned and where do I want to go next? Well, I would really like to try some silk, but I'm going to wait and see what Beth is feeling. I also have the Shine coming, I'll see what happens with that. I'll swatch it, but may not have to send it to Beth. A problem I had with this experiment is color. There are not a lot of pure white yarns. We could go with a light gray to match the ribbon in her dress as an option. I have learned that swatching can be addicting! Just knitting these six swatches makes me want to look at more possibilities, silk for example. And then adjusting the gauge will add a whole new range of options. I learned that it is much more economical to add my own bling rather than pay the extra for yarn with the bling built in. There is more but I'll save it for the next group of swatches I'm knitting for the Blank Canvas Sweater.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Thorn in Snow

I finished my Thorn shawl yesterday. It feels good, and I'll enjoy wearing it. Hadn't made a swatch and that's probably why I ran out of yarn and had to go back two rows to bind off with enough yarn. Lesson learned. That was a really long row, over 600 stitches. Should have used a smaller needle. I used blocking wires and was pleased with the results. It is a bit larger than the schematic that came with the pattern, but not a huge difference. I did use my new ChiaoGoo Twist interchangeables. Love them, especially the tiny little connector that allows you to put two cords together. They are similar to Knit Picks, but are less likely to pull apart or come unscrewed. The cord is sturdier, might not be as good for magic looping as KP are.  Love the case, very portable and great for traveling.
We are having a snow storm today, it's keeping me from going to school...going to be a very early morning tomorrow. Really pretty snow though, sticking to the trees and branches-the winter wonderland look. The snowday calculator only gives us 41% chance for tomorrow.

The yarn I used was Brooklyn Tweed Loft. I love the fact that it was spun in Harrisville, NH, where we used to go to the steam baths many years ago. It is very delicate, breaks easily but also spit splices easily too. I was okay with that, but I will have to be very careful with pulls and cat claws. It does have a great deal of vegetable matter, tiny brown bits of straw/hay that you have to pick out. Sometimes I felt that the yarn would fall apart it I picked too vigorously, so I just left it in. Hope it doesn't feel scratchy. Glad to have this one done so I can move on to Kenny's sweater. I got past the heels on my Sweet Tomato Heel socks, now I just need to knit the legs and I'll have a new pair of socks. I'd love to finish some of my projects that have been hanging around for too long. Getting these socks finished would be fantastic.

My yarn order from Webs arrived. And now the Northfield is on sale...$3.84. I'm tempted to order a sweater's worth, but will hold out and swatch first. There were quite a few comments about how the yarn grows and can be problematic in garments. When we were in New York I stopped in at Knitty City and bought a skein of Tosh Merino Light in Cloak, which is perfect for the black in Eden Praire. So now I've got two extra skeins. Sure I'll find something to do with them, it is fabulous yarn. I've already bought more yarn that has gone into the stash than all of last year! Time to put on the brakes. Looking forward to the start of the class, but hoping that other knitters don't tempt me to go on a buying binge.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Progress, Planning, and ...Purchases!

Yikes! After flashing my stash you would think that I would have the sense to stay away from online and local yarn stores for awhile. But I fell in love with the Eden Prairie by Nancy Whitman at Whitknits. It looks like a Frank Lloyd Wright window. I ordered the Tosh Merino Light from Whitknits and the Loopy Ewe in order to get the colors I need. I wasn't sure which color to use for the black (onyx seems to be discontinued) so I ordered thunderstorm and graphite and will find a use for the extra somewhere.

Since the Perfect Sweater class with Ysolda is starting soon, I've been thinking about yarn for that. She is suggesting that we use DK and we'll be doing a lot of swatching. I have some leftovers of standard yarn that I can swatch with (CottonFleece, Malabrigo Silky, Silky Wool) but I also made the mistake of looking at Webs to see if they had anything interesting. At least I chose yarn from the closeouts. I ordered 8 skeins of Fibra Natura Oak which is a blend of merino, linen, and silk. I have high hopes for this one. Since it was a closeout I talked myself into ordering a sweater's worth, but at $4.49 a skein that wasn't too bad. Also threw in a skein of Northfield DK, a merino, alpaca, and silk blend, but only one skein of that since it is standard stock at Webs.

Pashmina in Copper Penny
Sticks and Stones Swatch
But my most exciting purchase this week was the Madelinetosh order from Spinning Yarns in Dover. I ordered this yarn in July knowing it would take awhile. You could order any Madtosh yarn in any colorway, with a minimum of 4 skeins at 20% discount. I loved being able to have the whole palette of yarns and colors open to me. It was really hard to decide what to get.  I'm going to make two sweaters out of Pashmina in the Copper Penny colorway. Kenny will get Anne Hanson's Sticks and Stones pullover and I'll get the cardigan. I know. Next we will be getting matching Aloha shirts and Moo moo's. I knit a swatch on the recommended 5/3.75 mm needles but didn't get gauge. Will try again on 6/4.00 mm. The swatch does look beautiful, I did the pebble stitch swatch and feels soft and lightweight. I think it's going to make a couple of great sweaters. I also ordered 4 skeins of Tosh Merino Light in Antique Lace. I think this will become a Walnuss/Same Same cardigan by Ankestrick. I loved the contiguous sleeve on Romy and would like to try it again. It was hard to wait 6 months for this yarn, but in the end it was a great opportunity and I hope they do it again.
Tosh Merino Light in Antique Lace
Finally the progress part of this post is my Thorn shawl. I am in the C section, and have 48 more rows to knit in this section. The rows are getting longer, and it is eating up yarn quickly now. Even though this shawl is only stripes of garter and stockinette stitch I have had to tink back with great frequency, sometimes a few stitches but several times a number of rows. I wised up today and threw in a mess of stitch markers. It is moving along much better already. We are heading to NYC for a couple of days this week and I hope to get on to the edge by the end of the week. I'm anxious to finish a few projects so I can really dig into Kenny's sweater and be ready to enjoy Ysolda's class. Not that a few WIPs ever bothered me too much.
Thorn at Section C

Sunday, January 20, 2013

My Perfect Sweater

I signed up for the online class with Ysolda Teague through the Squam Arts Center. Hoping to learn how to knit a sweater that really fits.  I thought my Romy was going to fit well, but it is far from perfect. I think I made the armhole openings too long, that seem to make it all pull, and I'm constantly tugging at it. Might not have been the right yarn either.  Anyway, looking forward to the class.