Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I love bell sleeves...

I really do love them. But for some reason, I can't stop obsessing over the fact that these sleeves are going to be too belled.

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I'm really playing with fire with this hourglass sweater.

Firstly, I didn't actually swatch (I know, I know, don't hurt me). I realised that for my swatch to be at all accurate, I'd have to knit it in the round, and therefore I'd have to have enough stitches that I could get an accurate gauge on half the stitches. Since the sleeves are worked in the round anyway, I had a brilliant idea. The sleeves can be my swatch! That way, if I get gauge right away, I won't have wasted all that time knitting a swatch. Besides, I had already started the body of the sweater on 5mm needles and determined that it was way, way too big, so I had a good starting point with 4.5mm.

After knitting the up to the hem for the sleeves- Oh yes, sleeves. I knit them both at once, so that I can avoid obsessive row counting and still have sleeves the same length. Again, this seemed like a brilliant idea, but perhaps not so much when combined with the "sleeves as swatch" idea, since it's much harder to just scrap-and-start-over two sleeves, rather than one. Which is how I managed to get this far before questioning my progress.

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So as I was saying, I knit up to the hems on 4.5mm, and measured my gauge. It was about 16sts/inch, still a little big (I'm going for 19), but I was not concerned. I knit the hems up (provisional cast on, then k2tog the hem and sleeve stitches to avoid sewing later) then switched to my 4.25 needles for the rest of the sleeves. After several rows, I checked again. About 21 sts/inch. Well, that's actually smaller, but since it's already looking a little big, I'm okay with that. In fact, to prevent the extreme belled-ness of the sleeves from translating all the way up the arm, I've actually knit 2 extra decrease rows already. I'm pretty much trying to get the sleeves to the small sized measurements (from the medium which is what I cast on).

Goodness, if anyone is still following this, good for you. I'm totally lost.

The second thing that is vaguely concerning me is the colour difference. It's a double edged sword with Malabrigo. I love the variation, it's gorgeous, and subtle, and makes a much more interesting knit than a super consistent colour (at least for plain stockinette stitch). But doing both sleeves at once (hence two balls) makes it difficult to alternate balls to prevent pooling of a lighter or darker skein- since that would require four balls at once. I think I'd go mad(der). This has left me with two gorgeous sleeves of slightly different colours. I'm okay with this, I think.

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Of course, the fact that I'm posting this all is a sign that I have not completely resigned myself to continuing.

I may need to switch projects for a while, to keep myself from progressing on the hourglass if I am going to eventually frog it. I can't believe I just typed that.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Happy New Yarn- er- Year!

All I wanted for the holidays was yarn, or money with which to acquire yarn, or roving which I could spin into yarn. Santa (and my relations) were all extremely good to me in this respect.

My darling husband bought me two gorgeous balls/lumps/pillows of roving. A 100% shetland in 'espresso', a very very dark brown, and a 70% shetland, 30% alpaca in 'oatmeal'. I never realised just how much I loved the natural colours of fibres. I could just sit and stare at it all day. I spend an inordinate amount of time over the holidays just squishing it.

Of course, colours not always found in nature are also quite appealing. So with some of my festive funds, I purchased some merino/silk roving too. I was almost swayed by the alpaca/silk as well, with beautifully contrasting colours (Think darkest brown alpaca streaked with copper-coloured silk. Black streaked with nearly iridescent red. Caramel streaked with gold. Now wipe the drool off your chin). Alas, at $10/oz, it was well beyond my reasonable budget. But don't get me wrong, the merino/silk is very nice. Don't you think?

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But my real holiday treat was the boxing day sale at 'Lettuce Knit' in Toronto. 30% off. It may not sound like a lot, but it was apparently all that was standing between me and a whole buttload of Fleece Artist/Handmaiden yarn.

Merino socks- haven't decided on a pattern yet. I just want to swim in it.

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Silk Rumple and Angel Hair (mohair/nylon). Part-way towards becoming a beautiful bias lacy scarf.
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Cashmere/Silk, in (I think) the Paris colourway. Hopefully this will be a Diamond fantasy shawl by spring.
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I also have a pair of Mohair/Blue-Faced Leicester fuzzy socks, but I don't have a picture yet. They've been spending too much time on my feet.

And quite a few months ago, I bought 6 skeins of Malabrigo in Azul Profundo. I was going to use it to make tubey, but after casting it on I became apprehensive that the pattern was not going to work for me. Fit issues. I now expect it to become an Hourglass sweater. I'm not particularly rushing on this one, since I won't likely get much wear out of it until next fall.

Pictures of that yarn to come, for those of you who like that sort of thing.

A Few More FOs

Before I get too far into the new year, I have to update on my last few FOs of 2006. I would like to add that I finished ALL of my gifts well before the 24th, thank you very much. I am very proud of myself.

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This is the scarf from the hand spun wool that was roving that belonged to my grandmother-in-law (follow that?). I re-dyed it, because I found the bright green to be a bit garish for granddad. The colour looked a lot nicer in person than it does in the picture.

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A felted bowl, made from a skein of Noro, for my mom. She's using it to keep my grandma's glasses in, so she can find them easily. I love making useful things.

In other FO news, I finally (finally!) finished the broadripple socks that I started...ooh, when was it? When my youngest was about 3 months old? Yeah, he'll be two this month. That was pathetic. And while they are lovely socks, I am so sick of working on them that I didn't even want to keep them for myself. Luckily, I have a beautiful friend whose birthday is this month, and she has small feet like mine. Also, she's allergic to wool, and since these socks are made from cascade fixation, it's all good. They are currently en route to her in Germany. In my haste to send them off, I forgot to take a picture of the pair. Well, go back to my first blog posts, there's a picture there of one of them, almost finished. The other one? Looks just like it. You'll have to imagine the toe though.

I will also update that everyone loved their knitted gifts. They all think I am incredibly talented and creative. Well maybe I am.