Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Mug rugs in Shy as Acorn

I have no idea where or why I purchased two skeins of Seacoast Handpainted Alpaca Silk. I'm guessing it was from Tuesday Morning and I either liked the colorway name or I thought the yarn was lonely. I don't even like green!

When I decided to weave something smallish on my rigid heddle loom, I reached for this yarn because I knew I would never knit anything from it. While the skein was on the swift, I guessed the color runs would not pool. And I was right.

Not only was I right, the result is pretty nice. So nice that when I showed this project to my SO, he immediately wanted to know what I was going to do with the mug rugs. I assured him he was getting a set.

Pattern: plain weave on 7.5 sett heddle
Yarn: Seacoast Handpainted Alpaca Silk, colorway 'Shy as Acorn' (weft) and Valley Yarns in 'Natural' (warp)
EPI: 7.5
PPI: Approximately 7.5

One mistake I made was not leaving enough warp for the fringe. This made tying off excruciatingly tedious as I had to wrap the fringe around a crochet hook, pull the ends through the loop while pinching the loop with index and thumb, then adjust the knot with a yarn needle. I think it took longer than the weaving.

The first run of warp was long enough for nine mats, with one skein of weft yarn completing seven of those. I thought the second run of warp was long enough for five more, but NOT - only four fit on it. I warped enough for one more mat, just to use up the weft yarn.

I ended up with 14 rug mugs, enough to gift three sets of four plus have two leftover for my own use and to take to weavers guild for show and tell. Also, the more I weave, the more comfortable I become with the entire process. Now to break out the long neglected spinning wheel.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Ruby red sweater

I chose the yarn for this sweater several years ago, started knitting last July, took a hiatus for xmas hats, and finally wrapped it up a week or so ago. And I am very pleased with the results (although I could certainly learn to take better photos!)

Pattern: Drop shoulder ski sweater by Barbara G. Walker, with some input from Denmark pullover with simple patterns by Donna Druchunas
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash, colorway 893 'Ruby'
Needles: US7 mostly, with some US8
Modifications: see below

I don't know at what point a handknit garment crosses the line and becomes one's own design. My intent was to follow the Denmark pullover but knit from the top down and knit flat instead of in the round, and things went to hell from there. I swatched the stitch patterns recommended for the Denmark pullover but none of them sang to me. I switched to ringwood stitch for the body and sleeves. However, Walker's invisible cast on was not invisible, so I added some seed stitch to the shoulders. And since swatches lie, the fit was too snug, so I added seed stitch insets at the sides.

I duplicated the seed stitch for the tails (back one longer than the front) but didn't like it for the cuffs, which became 1x1 ribbing. Tried the ribbing for the neckline but it didn't work, so switched back to seed stitch. Before blocking, I was not satisfied with the collar and the sleeves seemed too short. After blocking, the collar was fine but the sleeves grew - I may shorten them.

I'm not a fan of superwash yarn (except for socks) as it feels too stretchy, like it lacks spine. But this was the color I wanted and the finished sweater is very comfortable, with nice drape. Too bad my "experienced" body is so lumpy.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

A new year

I took a look at last year's knitting resolutions, and I think I actually achieved them, more or less. Let's examine the intention and the results more closely.

Quality over quantity. While I don't have any hard data to back up this assertion, I feel like I knit less this year but tinked more, if that makes any sense. With the exception of dishcloths and hats, I didn't complete very many projects compared to other years. And that's okay. I am still struggling with appropriate yarn selection, though. I will definitely continue this resolution into 2017.

Let's be practical. This fall, when I hit upon the idea of knitting *everyone* hats in 'Blaze' (hunter orange), I quickly realized that some people would not want a hat in that color. So I asked before I knit. My daughter said yes, but she wanted a particular pattern. My SO said yes. Son and son-in-law were definitely NO. So now everyone has a new hat in a color/style they will wear. This resolution is a winner.

Break away from patterns. This resolution may be the primary reason I have fewer completed projects this year. I'm not an experienced designer, so have to adapt my ideas along the way, which invariably leads to more knitting but less finishing. When I look at patterns, I may see a design element I might want to steal incorporate into my own style, but otherwise, almost everything leaves me feeling meh. Unless I find a pattern that is utterly intriguing, I anticipate sticking with this resolution as well.

Is there anything new I would like to resolve to do this year? Why, yes, thank you for asking.

Whip those WIPs. I have probably made this resolution before, but this year I feel particularly driven to finish some big projects that are hanging over my head as well as frog some others that are obviously not doing it for me anymore.

Fix what's broken. When the cold weather finally rolled around, I discovered that I HATE most of my handknit sweaters. One has sleeves that are too big, another is in a color I loved at the time and now do not, a third is knit from expensive yarn that pills like the dickens. I think I can reknit the big sleeves, either overdye or bleach the blech color, and maybe felt the pilly one just enough to settle its hash. Fixing existing sweaters is preferable to knitting whole new ones, right? And these exercises will be fun learning experiences (she said hopefully).

What about you? Any new knitting goals this year?