Sunday, January 31, 2016

I Walked the Line

I kept a close watch on this sleeve of mine
I kept my eyes wide open all the time
I saw the signs and now I'm gonna whine
I'm out of twine, I walked the line

My apologies to Johnny Cash, but this song has been going through my head all day.

I finished the first sleeve of my Sawyer Sweater late Friday after piddling away at it for a few weeks. When I finished, I saw that I only had a a little over two balls of yarn left for the second sleeve and the collar. I weighed the first sleeve -- 104 grams. I had 108 grams of yarn left, so clearly I would need to get more yarn for the collar, but at least I had enough for the second sleeve with a tiny bit to spare. Or so it seemed.

Saturday afternoon, I rode to my LYS and checked -- they were out of my dye lot, but I was okay with the collar being from a different lot, so I got two more skeins of the closest match. There was enough of a difference in the texture and the stitch patterns between the body and the collar that no one would notice on a galloping horse. While there, I got 5 buttons as called for in the instructions. I admired some wooden ones and even considered some rugged antler buttons, but decided on these metal ones with a yellowish patina that might bring out some of the yellow/gold flecks in the yarn.

This weekend I was able to get a LOT of of knitting done. I cast on for the second sleeve Friday night and all but have it done now. That's right. Almost done. Because I'm going to have to dig into one of the new dye lot skeins for the last 8 rows. Grrr. Maybe I need a better scale? I didn't think adding an extra inch to the body and sleeves would eat up that much more yarn, but now that I think about it, yeah, it would. Still, I kind of wish patterns would indicate a bit more exactly what "11 balls" means. Does it mean "10 balls and one more yard" or does it mean "Every freakin' last centimeter of 11 balls -- you know what -- better make it 12"?

So, I have a bit of ball winding to do, followed by a few more rows, some binding off, putting on a collar and some buttons, and some sewing together. And I'm rapidly feeling my enthusiasm ebbing away, despite my recent rapid progress, not least because of the unseasosonably warm weather. It really was "June in January," and not, as Bing sings, "because I'm in love," but because it was 85° Fahrenheit. In January. Beautiful, but I'm just not ready for it yet.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Match Game

Hit a milestone on my Sawyer Sweater today; I've completed the front and the back.

Once done, I placed the front on the back to see if all the decreases on both pieces matched up and mirrored each other. And they do. But doing this also revealed a problem I've never had before; the front is about an inch wider than the back. My stitch counts were all correct at all the check-in points in the pattern, so I must have had a mid-garment gauge issue. Was I more tense while knitting the back -- or more relaxed knitting the front? I don't think it's going to make a huge difference in the finished sweater, but I'm a bit disconcerted. I hope it doesn't become a trend. I'll see when I start the sleeves.

The top of the front involves dividing for the Henley and also decreasing for the armholes. It's one of those "at the same time" instructions that are so hard for me to follow. I had to draw a little diagram to keep track of where I was on each side. All this while juggling two balls of yarn and following new selvedge edge instructions for certain rows. Not sure I quite followed that last part correctly, but I don't think it will make a huge difference. Just about 20 or so rows, but so much to keep track of. The shoulder decreases in the two pieces match, so I must have gotten the gist at least. But my brain hurts.

I'm really liking the texture that this stitch pattern creates. It looks very different from close-up and from afar. I get a kick out of looking down the long diagonal rows of little bumps. Except when I see mistakes. In this pattern, and for me, this means ripping back rather than trying to fix it with a crochet hook. If you do see any breaks or other anomalies in the pattern detail pictured here, kindly keep it to yourself at this point, please.

I got to have lunch and go yarn shopping at Hill Country Weavers with my sister yesterday. I was all prepared to be a fount of knowledge about all things fibery, but she was on a mission. She new she wanted red and black variegated yarn for a scarf for her daughter, and zeroed in on several samples. She ended up with a super-soft alpaca/merino blend from Cascade called Color Duo. I think the one she chose is called Red Queen. Within hours she texted me a picture of several inches of neat and tidy rows. She's really taking off with knitting and I couldn't be prouder!


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Out With the Old

I'm back from our trip to Germany and Denmark. And I didn't knit a stitch the whole time. I just wasn't feeling it, for some reason. It wasn't until I was on the plane home that I hauled out my latest sweater to do a bit of work, promptly found a mistake a few rows back, tried to fix it with a crochet hook, made a mess of that, and then, somewhere over the tip of Greenland, stuffed it back in my bag. Sigh.

I did get to wear cozy handknit socks every day, keeping my toes warm in the frigid weather. But I never visited a yarn store; we just never were in the right place at the right time. However, I did see a few people knitting, and saw some nice knitwear on the streets everywhere we looked.

And also this gem -- a mural at a construction site near the Marble Church in Copenhagen. It featured tropes from pastoral art scenes with weird twists, such as UFOs over a group of milkmaids, a giant cat looking in a window at some feasting revelers, and this shepherd, riding a dog and knitting.

When I got home, and packed away some of the things I'd taken to keep warm, I realized that it was time to let go of some of my early handknit sweater projects. A few were just failures, like the weirdly wide-lapeled green cabled vest I thought I would love, but most were just too big. And although they represented a decade of learning new techniques and hours of work, I just didn't need them any more.

So, out with the old. I told each one goodbye in a Kondo-esque way, and sent them off to charity. I suppose I could have recycled some of the yarn, but I didn't. Clockwise from the upper left, they are: Men's Sweater by Staci Perry (too big, but I'll be making this again!), Herz & Baum Vest (weirdly shaped shoulders), Branching Aran Guernsey , Cobra Sweater, ZimmerZipper Cardigan, and the Whitfield Jacket (all too large) . All of them served their purposes, whether for learning or as something to keep me warm, but it was time for them to go. I'm only a little sad about it. I'm glad I still have records of them in Ravelry, though, so I can remember what I learned from them, and perhaps make newer, better versions later.

Almost have the front of the Sawyer Sweater finished. And this weekend, I have plans to go yarn shopping with my sister and I'm eally looking forward to it. So much newness to look forward to in this new year!