About Me

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Four years into widowhood, after one year of incredible happiness and nearly 14 years of single blessedness. Have given up perfect manicures and pretty hands in order to resume playing the soprano recorder and to see if I can figure out how to play bluegrass banjo. Singing in the shower. Still really, *really* love to knit!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Swatchapalooza

I’m learning a lot. I like the WOTA Bulky and the regular WOTA much, *much* better than Cascade 220. They are smooth, soft and non-kinking, at least in my limited experience. I don’t have to drop my project and let the yarn untwist. I like that.

Both seem a bit loosely spun for what I want to accomplish. I want a jacket that will look good now and look good twenty years from now; i.e., no pilling. I don’t enjoy shaving my own armpits. I sure don’t want to have to shave or trim the armscyes of what I hope will be an elegant but durable jacket.

Would a Chanel jacket or sweater pill at the underarm? I don’t think so!



This is the braided cable from Fur Sure, knitted up yesterday in three strands of WOTA on Addi Lace US size 10.75 [7.0mm] needles. As I said, I love this yarn. I'm not liking how visible those three strands that make up each stitch are. If I were felting, they would meld together. But for this jacket, I want a seamless quality. More on that, later.

Had an interesting discussion with one of the legal secretaries yesterday afternoon. She sat for a moment in the break room and watched me swatch these three strands of WOTA. What was I doing, why was I doing it, what would I do when I was done? I told her about the $300 yarn, and she flapped her eyebrows at me. “Why would you not just buy the yarn and make the sweater?”

“Because I want to get out of debt.”

“Why not get out of debt wearing a beautiful $300 sweater that you had made yourself? You deserve it. Your kids are grown and gone. Why not just buy the yarn and be done with it?”

I grinned and told her, “I deserve a lot of things that I don’t have. A righteous worthy spouse, for one thing.” And then I said that I was seriously thinking about spinning the yarn myself, which totally floored her. At that point one of our attorneys breezed by and said, “Yeah, but if you spin it, there’s that whole pricking your finger on the spindle thing, and then where would you be?”

I cracked up. “Maybe then I could get a kiss!”

But would I want to marry a guy who goes around kissing comatose women? That just seems creepy to me.

OK, back to the topic of swatches. I knitted several in the WOTA Bulky on Thursday, all frogged. As follows: One strand on Addi Natura US size 10.75 [7.0mm] needles. Easy to knit, and a little too “airy” for a good jacket, particularly one with a real fur collar. Plus, the cables were limp and flat.

Two strands on Addi Natura US size 10.75 [7.0mm] needles. Hard to knit, especially when cabling without a cable needle. But the appearance of the cables was more like those in the picture in my book. Though wrangling these two strands emphasized how loosely spun and loosely plied the WOTA Bulky is. I think I understand why; they are going for loftiness without weight. And it felt great, running through my fingers as a single strand. But the same qualities that make it superb for felting lead me to believe that this would pill like crazy.

Two strands on Addi Natura US size 13 [9.0mm] needles. I knew this would be nowhere near gauge. I just wanted to see what the fabric looked and felt like. Looked great and felt wonderful.

One strand of WOTA Bulky and one strand of WOTA on Addi Natura US size 10.75 [mm] needles. In two different colors. I tried to ignore the tweed effect, because I was going for gauge, but it was absolutely crazy-making and immediately frogged.

I did look on WEBS, and the Baby is on clearance, half-price. But on examination, it seems very loosely spun. A $150 sweater that pills would not make me only half as livid as a $300 sweater that pills. So, I’m contemplating pencil rovings, either knitted lopi-style with single or multiple strands, or spun and plied. I’m wondering if I would like them Navajo plied? I’ve never tried that before.

I really, really, REALLY do not want to drop this sweater off my queue.

I blame spinning. How hard is it to make a yarn that has softness *and* volume *and* structural integrity? [All the spinners out there have fallen off their chairs and are snickering helplessly.] Basically, what I want is a bushel or two of Micki’s handspun sock yarn, super-sized. And probably Navajo plied.

What I do have is a few precious skeins of vintage handspun, dating back to the late 1980’s. All I can tell you for sure is that it is spun from “Welsh pencil roving”, and I *think* it was from Jacobs wool, because I could buy it in “cheeses” of white, light grey, or dark grey. Not suitable for right next to the skin, but I can play with it and get an idea of gauge.

I sat down this morning with my size 4 needles and the Chelsea Silk. I knew that they were too small for a plain stockinette fabric, but I wanted to see how much too tight the fabric would be. I got 4.5 stitches per inch, which told me that size 5 needles would probably give me gauge, which is 4.25 stitches per inch, or 17 stitches per 4 inches. So I worked a garter stitch ridge and changed to my K2P2 broken rib, which is like seed stitch on steroids. I like to work three rows of K2P2 ribbing and then reverse the ribs for another three rows. It gives me fabric with a good hand that is visually interesting and lies flat. And this swatch [all three that I took were blurry, sorry] has the added virtue of working up on needles I can put my hands on. My 5’s and 6’s are still packed somewhere.

So, I am thinking of casting on one of the backs with some of the contrasting silk and carrying it up the garter-stitch vent, then casting on the other back with a different contrasting silk. Later, I’d cast on the fronts with silk to match the adjoining backs and run that up the garter-stitch bands in front. Maybe get a little Fibonacci action going, in memory of the frogged sweater. And if I decided to insert intarsia squares or rectangles into the body of the sweater, I’d have that K2P2 framework for them. That could be a lot of fun!

I don’t think any painting is going to get done this weekend.

2 comments:

Jenni said...

I'm glad that you have friends that were able to read this post and get something other than "Wah wah, wah wah wah."

Love you, mean it.

Lynn said...

You mean like the teacher in the Charlie Brown movies?