Fall Weather and Summer Knits

Fall has arrived in NL.  The only way you’d know this is because leaves are falling and the days are shorter.  You wouldn’t know it by the actual weather – it’s been strangely warm and sunny.  We went to the beach yesterday and had lunch in the sun.  We spent this morning gardening – planting bulbs for next year.

There is still knitting and spinning going on, even if the blog has been sorely neglected. Is anyone out there still reading?  Today I finished Hitofude.  The Japanese word means something like “in one motion” and if you had a long enough yarn you could make this sweater from beginning to end without breaking threads.  It’s a strange and interesting construction that defies understanding before you knit it.  Just trust the instructions and do it.  This is the result.

It will be perfect for summer.  Bad timing on my part.  But it will also be perfect for those business trips to Thailand where the airconditioned offices are too cold.

I’m also spinning these days.  I’ve spun up and Navajo plied some yarn (my first 3 ply ever and first N-ply!!) but I don’t have photos yet.  The yarn is drying and I’ll take photos later this week.

I’m spinning some lace weight singles! Wow! Lace! I’m pretty proud of myself.  This is only my 4th “bump”, “skein”, whatever you want to call it 120 grams worth of singles.  I think I’m going to 2 ply it and use it for a lace shawl. It’s 50/50 merino/silk.

I only have this much more to go and all 120g will be spun up and ready to ply.  I split the bump in half by weight and spun each half on separate bobbins.

I’m working on this on my friend’s Matchless wheel.  More news about wheels soon!

Neon is New!

I just finished knitting this sweater and I LOVE it!  The pattern is Neon by Joji Locatelli.  The yarn is Madelinetosh DK Twist in color Mansfield Garden Party.  If ever a pattern and yarn were meant for each other, this is it.

The yarn is so variegated that I really had no idea what I was going to make with it that wouldn’t end up looking like a pooled mess or clown barf.  Then my new friends I met in Santa Cruz showed me all their Neon sweaters and I thought that I had found the solution.  I did indeed!

Like all Madelinetosh (and most all hand dyed) yarns, there are differences in each skein.  You can overcome this by alternating skeins as you knit (to mix up the color differences) but I really didn’t want to bother.  What I did bother with, however, was making sure that where I changed skeins, the color differences were matched in the body and sleeves.  You can see above where the colors kind of change, and they change at the same points in the body as in the sleeves.  I weighed my skeins and used 60% for the body (knit in one piece) and 20% for each sleeve.  Clever, no?  These color differences are much more obvious in a photo than in real life.

Modifications I made to the pattern –
First, I didn’t make all the waist decreases.  I skipped the last one.  I’m short and I don’t have much of a waist, so skipping a decrease made perfect sense for my fit.  I made 3 rounds of decreases and 3 rounds of increases.

Second, I did the bottom ribbing and the sleeve ribbing bind off using Jenny’s Amazingly Stretchy Bind off.  I thought it needed to be really stretchy, and after washing and blocking it is indeed stretchy!  Maybe this was overkill.  I probably could have used just a normal bind off.

Third, my sleeves are shorter than the pattern states which I did by knitting fewer ribbing rows.  I have short arms.

Fourth, and importantly, I knit my sleeves FLAT instead of in the round as the pattern states.  She goes to great lengths to explain how to do this stitch pattern in the round, which is very fiddly and annoying.  Why bother?  Just knit them flat with an extra stitch either side for seam allowance and spend 10 minutes sewing them up at the end.  Simple!  No worry about gauge or anything.  When I got to the cuffs, I did knit them in the round.

sleeve seam

Fifth,  I made a small ribbing neckline instead of the stockinette stitch in the pattern.

And finally, also importantly, I knit the neck ribbing and the front bands ribbing on needles TWO SIZES smaller than called for.  I read on Ravelry that a lot of people found the bands floppy.  Simple solution.  Use smaller needles.  Actually, every sweater I’ve ever knit that has ribbed bands calls for smaller needles for this part of the knitting.  I don’t know why Joji choose to use the same size.  Mine turned out great.  Oh, and I also made 3 stitch button holes because my buttons were kind of big.  Perfect.

I’m super happy with how this turned out.  It fits perfectly and I’m sure to wear it all the time.  I’m tempted to make another one!

Cardigan WIP

I’m working away on my smocked cable cardigan.  Above are the two sleeves done, and part of the back piece done.  I got up to the part of the back where I should start making the cables and realized I was in trouble.  I won’t have enough yarn to finish this sweater.

I have 8 100 gram skeins of yarn and you’d think that would be plenty.  The first problem is that ONE of the skeins is a really different color than the rest.  Now, if 2 or 3 were different, I could alternate skeins and work them in and all would be fine.  But ONE skein being different just makes it unusable in my opinion.  Secondly, I think I will really need 9, not 8 anyway.  The back piece takes up huge amounts of yarn because it is long, flared and wide at the bottom, and is full of cables at the top.  Here’s a photo of what the back will look like:

smockedcablecoatback

What am I going to do with this thing?  I realized on Thursday night I’d be short of yarn.  Friday morning I woke up and got right on this problem.  I went to Ravelry to see who stocks Madelinetosh yarn and then I went stocking those sites, looking for Vintage in color Mourning Dove.  I only had to look to 2 shops before finding some at the Loopy Ewe, out of Colorado.  YAY!  Do you know how hard it is to find this yarn?  Hard.  I am so lucky.

Anyway, I ordered 4 skeins.  FOUR? you ask.  Yes, four.  I’m guessing I’ll need 2 and maybe 3 and what if I’m completely wrong?  I ordered 4.  I can always destash the leftovers or make something to go with this sweater, like mittens or a hat.  You can never have too much Madelinetosh, that’s what I always say (and have the stash to prove).

But I still have the problem of skeins that are not the same color as the knitting I’ve already done.  I’m going to try something I hope will be ok.  I’m going to knit the backs and fronts up to the start of the cable pattern with the yarn that I have.  Then at that point, when the pattern and fit of the sweater changes, I’ll alternate in the new skeins.  At least a slight change in color will be at a changing point in the pattern and should seem like it makes sense.  Working with hand dyed yarn is beautiful and lovely, but sometimes a pain.  No 2 skeins are perfectly matched and you always have to take that into account.

My yarn shipped yesterday and I should have it in a couple of weeks.  Meanwhile I’ll continue knitting the fronts and will also continue knitting a secret project that I can’t show you yet.  But soon!