September 24, 2012

Aran Report

My Irish Aran is coming along nicely.  It has, however, made me realize that I jump into knitting difficult projects with my brain in the "off" position.  There have been a few self-imposed bumps on this road to knitting glory, even though I am only 2.5 chart repeats into the project, so I thought it would be helpful to all if I offered a bit of hindsight advice before you cast on for your own Aran sweater.

First, although these types of sweaters are traditionally knit on straight needles, and I was initially all in for the traditional way of knitting this sweater, straight needles are for the birds!  Trying to cable 122 back panel stitches in worsted wool on 14-inch US 7 needles is just, well, dumb.  It's even more ridiculous if you have chosen straight bamboo needles with rounded tips that aren't all that savvy for picking up stitches off of a cable needle.  After several excruciating hours of dropping stitches every time I tried to spread out the panel to make sure my cables were twisting in the correct direction, I realized that both my knitting project and I would be far happier with a little more breathing room.  Definitely, a 24-inch circular needle is the better way to go!  Second, while it is supposedly "faster" to cable without a cable needle, if your knitting needles aren't honed to a sharp point (bamboo with rounded tips is more aggravation than anyone should have in her life in this case--trust me, as I knit 16 rows before getting a clue), then use a cable needle.  Otherwise, you will drop at least one stitch, and it will be the most difficult one to pick up and fix, from a cable-in-progress on every cable across the row.  I now have hours of experience with this particular issue.  Since I remedied the straight knitting needle problem with my Harmony circs, however, I have found that I no longer need a cable needle and can knit along through those cables with little to no difficulty whatsoever.  Third, that swatching thing ... you should probably not knit with reckless abandon to all common sense like I do.  You should probably swatch.  I was lucky this time in finding the exact gauge, weight, and yardage that I needed in my stash for this project, which I verified AFTER having knit an entire 16 rows of the back  panel of this sweater.  It's probably better, especially if you don't have your own duck-tape dummy on which the compare what you've knit with what you can actually fit into, for you to swatch.  That gauge thing, in this case, is REALLY important because cables always pull your knitting inward and cause a bit of a reduction in the width of your project.  Do as I say, not as I do. ;)

At present, I am pleased as punch about how this is knitting up!  I've even had thoughts about knitting all of the Irish Aran sweaters in this particular book as I've coasted across the wrong-side rows ... Just maybe not this year.

I hope your current project is moving along nicely.  And if you are between projects right now, well, don't you think it's about time that you cast on for something new? Can't you hear those Irish cables calling your name?

September 07, 2012

Aran Fever

In case you have been wondering about what I have been up to since my last infrequent post ... well ...I've been getting bitten by the aran bug.  Two years ago I purchased enough yarn to knit an insanely cabled cowl-neck pullover, and that 1800 yds of worsted weight wool in blackberry from Knit Picks has been carefully stored away in the knitting stash ever since, waiting for the moment when life slowed down and there was time to knit a crazy-involved project.  And then Vogue Knitting came out with their emag for Fall 2012, and there was this amazing article in it about the history of Irish Aran knitting, and then I clicked on the links to as a follow-up to the article, and then I realized that I owned two gorgeous books full of patterns for Irish Aran sweaters and Scotch Ganseys, and  now I can think of nothing else.  Want to see what I've just cast on?  (pictures  borrowed from  This is the "Two Hearts" aran sweater by Lisa LLoyd (found in A Fine Fleece).

Mine will be done in an insanely dark blackberry.  There is a reason, dear readers, why the Irish trend toward knitting these lovelies in light greys and white.  For one, you can't see those tiny (US 5 and 7) cabled stitches you are making in a dark color unless you are directly underneath a very bright lamp.  This is going to take me a year ...

Before I could let myself cast on for a new and massive sweater project, however, I had to finish at least a few projects and do some dying of sock yarn and some frogging of project designs that have crashed and burned.  Sidebar: my first foray into teaching socks two-at-a-time begins next week, so hooray for that! 

Here's what I've been up to lately, sans the Knit Picks submission that was sent off on Tuesday (fingers crossed like a Celtic knot on this one). I've knocked out a pair of Hiker Chick socks for my sister's birthday done in a yet-to-be-named colorway of mine that is sapphire blue, lilac, and white ...

and I've knit up a few men's/boys' beanies for my October Fall Festival booth downtown.  I've decided to do school colors for all of the high schools and middle schools in the county in the hopes that these will be snapped up.

I've spent some quality time knitting on Honey's seamless shawl collared sweater that I started last winter, as well as a few hours of insomnia working on a shawl design that includes recycled bulky yarn, big cables, and the herring bone stitch and is also one of those projects that might take me a year to complete.

I dyed 19 skeins of Rocket Sock and Mission Sock yarn last week (you may have already drooled over them in my Etsy shop).  Here are a few pics of those:

And now I am off to work on the awesome Aran project!  Knit happy!


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