April 13, 2016

Sweater Evolution

I began knitting another Amiga cardigan in March as part of the Shinybees Rewind KAL.  I have been putting off making this sweater for literally ages and ages. Not because I didn't want another one, but because I just wasn't sure which yarn wanted to be this sweater. I am happy to report that it is officially an FO, with only the bath and blocking left to be done.



The road to finishing this FO was a challenging one.  I had 2 skeins of the original Touch Possum yarn in my stash that were as similar as two skeins of any natural, undyed yarn can be. (Now they blend it with silk and such, but mine is just New Zealand merino and possum.) I have had these in my stash for at least 4 years with the expectation that I would save them until I was sure that whatever I knit with them would be a treasure that I would wear all the time.  Well, turns out that I saved these treasures so long that the yarn is now discontinued and there is no more. Anywhere. On the planet. None.  I was even assisted by the people at the Touch home office in New Zealand in my search for just one more skein, and even they came up empty-handed. No one is willing to give up or admit that they have any ... which should tell the people at Touch that THIS is a yarn worth producing, right?!

So what did that mean for this project?  It meant that I couldn't just order another skein if I ran short.  It meant that from the cast on I was playing chicken with this yarn for any sweater project that I chose.  Having worn out my other Amiga cardigan (repairs are coming shortly, as I have just discovered the lost "extra" skein I saved just in case), I decided that this pattern was exactly what I wanted to use my possum yarn for, and it did turn out quite lovely.  EXCEPT.

If you are familiar with the Amiga pattern, then you know that my FO looks more or less NOTHING like the one pictured on the pattern.  There had to be a few adjustments to accommodate my limited quantity of yarn and the way the yarn lay as a fabric.  None of this did I have in mind until I had cast on and had worked my way through the yoke and realized that there was a very distinct possibility that I would run out of yarn without having finished the sweater.

Spoiler Alert! I had this much left when it was all said and done:


Modifications abounded with this pattern. First, I had to knit a longer raglan seam for the yoke to accommodate my bust size, and that used more yarn than what the pattern required. So then, I knit to the end of the first skein which, to my sheer amazement, took me to within 4 inches of where I wanted the sweater length to be.  At this point, I put the body on some waste yarn and started work on the sleeves. There was absolutely no way that I could figure out from the original pattern how much yarn would be used for each of the remaining parts of the sweater.  From this point on, it was a total guessing game!

I decided that it would be a good idea to do a shorter sleeve than on my previous Amiga.  The pattern calls for a 3/4 inch sleeve, but I knew that the sleeves would roll at the cuff because of the yarn and the straight-knit arm.  To save yarn, I tapered the sleeves by 12 stitches over 48 rows to the inner elbow and then I knit a 4-inch 1 x 1 ribbed cuff.  The sleeves fold up nicely at the elbow, which is perfect for both wearing over a tank top in the summer and for wearing over a long-sleeved shirt in the winter since I tend to push up the sleeves anyway.


I had a little more than half of a skein left at this point, (60 g), so I divided it up, leaving about 55% (33 g) for the collar band and 45% (28g) for the remainder of the body.  I added 4 inches to the body, including a bottom band so that it wouldn't roll up, and a miracle happened.  I had yarn left over!



I took the leftovers and added them to the collar yarn that I had set aside: 44 grams!

There was a good deal of splicing of this yarn to avoid having to weave in a bunch of ends on an airy fabric--you would have been able to see those ends on the RS as well as the WS in the right lighting.  I used the Russian Join method, not just to join the ends of the leftovers, but throughout the sweater. The one thing that this yarn was infamous for was knotted joins throughout the skeins.


The miraculous result was that I finished with a 5-inch, 1 x 1 ribbed collar band in the end.  That's enough to bridge the gap across the chest and close with a shawl pin if necessary or to wear as pictured, with the collar folded over.

I had approximately 1.5 yards of yarn remaining.  I will put this tiny bit of treasure in the safe just in case a repair has to be done in the future.  (Not joking.) I am so in love with this sweater that I know that I made exactly the right choice for this treasure of a yarn. I hope that your spring knitting is bringing you this much joy, too!

March 30, 2016

On the Other Side of the Crazy

I've managed to come out on the other side of the back-to-back yarn festivals a little worse for wear.  The first (Spring Fling) was a piece of cake and a fairly short commute--only about 90 minutes each way. The second (the Carolina Fiber Fest) was a grueling turn-and-burn that more or less took all of the fun out of the Easter weekend. The extra 90 minutes each way thanks to A) 60 miles of road construction and very bizarre road planning in North Carolina and B) the not-quite-steady-rain that blurred the windshield but was only really enough to make the wipers squeak for 6 hours on the night-time return trip did me in.  There was only one hectic day between traveling.  I came home to a house needing a good clean-up, Easter dinner to cook, and a huge yarn order for Rainy Day Yarns in Seattle to tackle. (Note: If you are participating in the Seattle April yarn crawl, you will want to go to Rainy Day Yarns first because the yarn I dyed up yesterday is so absolutely gorgeous that it won't be around but for about five minutes. Just sayin'.)

The thing about me and traveling is that I can't sleep in hotel rooms with any degree of comfort.  The air/heat is always just musty enough to send my allergies over the top and the beds are always disagreeable.  I never get any sleep when I travel because I always feel like I might as well be sleeping on the floor. And so, 4 days later, I still feel pretty wiped.

But, here we are on the other side of the crazy and I have two lovelies to share. The first is my Arboretum Shawl, which I designed in 2014, submitted to Knit Edge Magazine for publication in 2015, and just now am seeing in print in the April, 2016 edition.  After a series of changes in editors and production staff that just seemed to be on-going, Arboretum is finally in print.  It is also on Ravelry if you want to check out the details, though you have to purchase the magazine, I believe, to get a copy of the pattern.  Or, you can wait 4 months until August when the rights come back to me and buy the single copy then.  I sent in oodles of pictures because they didn't want to have to schedule their own photographer, but in the end they went with the submission photos from my laundry room.  WTH? (Can you tell that I am less than impressed with Cooperative Press?)


Arboretum is knit in my Rocket Sock label.  This color way is Wild Blue Yonder, though the dye lot a bit darker in this picture than the lot currently in the shop.

The second lovely is this WIP that I am working on for the Shinybees Rewind KAL.  It's coming along very nicely and I was able to work on it a bit at the Carolina Fiber Fest.  I've left the bottom edge on waste yarn with the hope that when I finish the sleeves there will be enough yarn left for the collar band and also to put a matching band across the bottom.  The very kind people at Touch Yarns in New Zealand have made a search for one last skein of this discontinued Possum yarn, but with no results. With all of the calculations and alterations to the pattern I've made, I'm still afraid that I won't have enough.  There isn't even anything close to it that I can find that I could sub in as a contrast color for the bands. I've searched and searched.  I guess it's just me vs. the yarn on this project, and I intend to use every last bit of this AMAZING yarn.


I don't know if you can see it in the picture, but the thing about this yarn that has me just over the moon is that it is an oatmeal color but, if you turn the fabric slightly on edge, there is a coppery halo of possum fibers that covers the entirety of the fabric.  In person it's like looking at the knit fabric through a coppery haze. LOVE IT!


There's only been one thing that has gone wrong with this WIP and that is the consequence of just abject stupidity and watching the Sockmatician podcast instead of what I was doing.


The odd thing about this possum yarn is that it has an almost felted texture.  It's a bit sticky in a way that I cannot begin to describe.  It's not felted, but it does kind of stick to itself once you've knit with it like it is felted.  Anyway, I was putting the body stitches on waste yarn and when I went to tie the ends of the waste yarn together, I inadvertently yanked the working yarn in place of the lifeline end very hard, apparently and tied it to the other end of the lifeline.  The result was that, not only did I manage to pull about 30 stitches and muck up the lifeline, but they pretty much felted themselves together.  See those stitches? They became one in a fraction of a second.  It was a 20-minute mess to fix. Stupid, stupid!  I recommend that you don't do this at home.

Although I have other projects on the needles, and the March Socks will not be finished before March comes to an end because of this WIP, I am up for a good challenge and am committed to finishing this by the end of next week.  My other projects are getting a bit lonely, I think.

So, how about you? What are you working on as Spring rolls into town?

March 14, 2016

In other news ...

I know that it has been more than a little while since I've posted.  I also know that the posts have been pretty sparse in 2016.  I can't believe how insanely busy I have been during these last few weeks!  I'm not doing for myself, except for getting ready for two shows, but I sure am doing for the kids lately!  You know it's spring when you have to start juggling pick up times among the kids for one activity after another.  I also wanted to leave the post about the Fish Lips Heel up a bit longer before a new post.  I hope that you contributed to this good cause.  It seems like every time I turn around, someone that I know has discovered that he/she has cancer.  It's very disheartening!

So, in other news ... I've just cast on yesterday for a new Amiga Cardigan as part of the Shinybees Rav group's "Rewind KAL".  I don't normally get involved in KALs because I always feel more stressed about working on a project when there's a deadline, even if it's three months away.  But, this year I decided to do something different from the annual make-a-resolution-and-forget-it tack.  I actually heard about this on two different British podcasts that I follow, and what it is, really, is genius.  You choose one word that represents the ball park of what you want to get out of or put into the new year, and that's your word for the year.  It's like a resolution but without all the guilt and rules.  So, my word for the year is REALIZE.  There are many things that I would like to make happen on a personal and professional level this year.  REALIZE means to me that I am going to consistently work toward realizing a whole slew of goals and expectations that I have for myself.  One of those goals happens to be to knit a new Amiga Cardigan.  The last one that I knit, which was at least 4 years ago now, has been worn and worn.  Unfortunately, this winter it had a considerable accident and I have been putting off trying to repair it until I am able to realize the goal of new shelving in my studio.  When I have the shelves, I'm going to be able to better organize my stash, which is in boxes and cabinets and closets throughout the house. When I realize the stash organization, I will find the leftover skein of the yarn that I used to knit the first Amiga Cardigan. This is starting to sound like one of those 360 degree games, isn't it?

This new cardigan for the KAL hits two birds with one stone because another thing that I intend to realize this year is to start knitting from the stash instead of just hoarding the stash.  I've had this amazing possum/merino in the stash for several years, and I keep meaning to knit a sweater with it.  So, I've joined the KAL--and if there's a project that you've been putting off or a KAL that you missed and you wish you hadn't, then join this one by all means--and I'm using the possum yarn and I'm knitting the Amiga Cardigan, and that will be that. Check and check! Here it is with the yoke nearly finished.  Did I mention that this is mindless TV knitting at its best?


I've also been hard at work on a new sweater design.  I wanted to spend the winter knitting sweaters, and in my delusional knitting brain I thought I would be able to churn out two or three by February, despite all the Christmas knitting.  It turns out that the reality is that I was able to churn out one pullover, which I finished on Saturday.  It's a new design and the pattern is fully written, and I will probably release it, but I have mixed feelings about how it looks on me after the fact.  I loved the sweater design on paper, and I even liked it while I was knitting it; but now I think that maybe I've made it too long and I can't quite decide if I should rip it back to a shorter length or not.  I tend to think of myself as being more on the side of the slim runway model, though the reality is much different. Of course, it's March, so winter sweater season is completely over and I won't get to wear it until next year.

I think that I am going to stick to the sweater knitting plan, though, and try to churn out a few more before sweater season rolls around again.  Certainly, I want to knit a yoke sweater, as that has been on my bucket list for a while and I have most of the yarn already.  I also want to knit a cardigan that I worked up on the CustomFit website last autumn, and I have the yarn for that one, too.  It would also be amazing if I could finish the cabled sweater that has taken a full year plus to get a back panel done. This sounds like a plan and I hope that I can stick with it in light of all the knitting/designing I still have to whip up at a crazy hectic pace for the book I'm co-authoring.

It's also only a few days until Spring Fling 2016 in Atlanta.  Last week I dyed the weight of a first grader in yarn for this show, so I hope you're coming if you can because, well, the yarn is pretty darned gorgeous!  I'm taking oodles of new color ways in Journey, Rocket Sock, Rocket Sock Medium, Sporty Sheep, and Silk Sheep.  I'm also bringing a bazillion project bags with my new (I'm so excited!) label on them.  I just love seeing the label on the bags!  It makes me feel like I've suddenly turned a corner with my business.



The next weekend, I'll be hanging out at the Carolina Fiber Fest in Raleigh so, again, I hope you are coming to that if you are able.  I'm totally going in blind to the Spring Fling show, as I have never been there before and who can trust the appraisal of the organizers, right?  I have been to the Carolina Fiber Fest, though, and its return to Raleigh is sure to draw a crowd. Fun times, fun times! It will be stressful doing back-to-back shows, but at least I'll be able to get out of Dodge for a while.  I feel like I need to see other horizons, even if they aren't very exotic, to re-energize the batteries.

So enough chit chat.  I need to get back to churning out a sweater.


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