Friday, April 27, 2007

Unexpected Swatching

Upon (almost) completing two of my three designated WIPs - the Jitterbug socks & the spa socks - I felt drunk with my own sense of achievement. I felt I must immediately fill the two spaces which I now perceived had become available in my three-part list. What to add to Perugino?

What I should have done at this point was restart the Grandiflora shawl or the blue'n'brown Tammy top, or even the purple lace socks. I ignored their accusing looks. Here's how I rationalised it:

  • Grandiflora is lace and I am not doing any more lace until Perugino is finished. It is too easy to make mistakes as it is, without getting confused about which lace pattern I'm doing. So Grandiflora will have to sit it out for a while longer. Its unofficial new deadline is Xmas.

  • Tammy ... I would love to restart Tammy but my yarn is varying dye-lots. I need to have a thorough look at my stash in bright daylight before I can restart it, and I don't have enough daylight hours at home to do that right now.

  • Purple lace socks. The buggers. The short story is, I dropped a stitch, the lace unravelled half way down the sock, and I ran out of patience with it. They were not going to make any progress anyway, what with the new practice of only doing one lace project at a time. So I frogged the sock back as far as the ribbing, and decided to make something new. Which brings us to the main news:

What's new in town

Oh, once I'd justified starting a completely new project or two, I had a whale of a time. Perugino sat in a bag in the corner like Billy No-Mates, while I played with these ...

Purple Basketweave Socks

If you think you've seen this before ... It is of course a purple lace sock, reincarnated. I need a travelling sock (I realised the other day that 'need' is the right word, I now regard a travelling sock as essential to survival), and that means easy, and not lace. Also, while I was in Alabama I spoke to my dad on the phone and recklessly promised him birthday socks. I love love love this colour, which I've yet to photograph in its full glory (it's a tweedy chocolate/plum combo) and I would joyfully wear it myself, but it's also one of the nicer shades in my stash that a man might wear. So - I ripped back to the ribbed cuff and then leafed through Sensational Knitted Socks for inspiration. I have 64 stitches arranged on two circular needles (2.5mm). I had been using an eight-stitch pattern for the lace, but now I've swapped it for a four-stitch basketweave affair. The pattern seems like it'll be easy to remember but textured enough to stay interesting. I've done precisely one round of the leg so far.

Blue-Green Cotton Socks

An alternative travelling sock. If the weather gets too warm for knitting wool, this is mostly cotton. The yarn is Fortissima Socka. I am really enthused about this project, not because I'm particularly in love with the yarn, although it is wonderfully soft, but because I have just learned how to do Magic Loop. The lady at my LYS ordered some fine-gauge circular needles at my request. When I went to collect them, I found they were 80cm long. This was a blow at first, because I like to make socks on two circs, and 80cm is much too long for that method. Wondering what to do with them, I vaguely remembered hearing something about Magic Loop, a method of knitting small items in the round on one long circular needle. I looked it up on where there's a very clear instructional video. I tried it and it worked! I'm elated to have learned a new skill, so right now this is my project of choice if I have a spare moment.

Bali Bamboo Swatch

I got to thinking that I'd add a sneaky summer top to my list. I was looking around for something I could start quickly, and that wouldn't be too much of a challenge if I wanted to take it away with me. The Bali bamboo yarn I acquired in Alabama called me, and I knit up a swatch on a 6mm bamboo circular needle. The gauge came out just as the ball band requested, at 16sts to 4".

Look at the sheen on that yarn. It's slick as butter and it loves those bamboo needles. A delight to work with. I still don't know what kind of top it wants to be, but swatching was a pleasure in itself.

Malva Swatch

Malva is the pink cotton ribbon yarn that I got in Alabama, along with the bamboo. I have in mind that I want Malva to become a top I've seen in the Filatura Di Crosa Spring/Summer 2007 Collection. Here it is:

I like this a lot - the shape appeals to me. I'm trying to decide whether I really like it enough to make it, or if I just want to play with the yarn, or if it would look better in some other yarn. I'm not 100% committed yet. I thought I would look more closely at the pattern, swatch and check it out. What I found is, this top uses two yarns held together: Malva, and a sportweight glittery lurex-type yarn called New Smoking. I don't have any New Smoking. I'm not sure I even want any. I want to be able to wear this garment during the day, I can't be glittering like a big gold Christmas tree. The pattern calls for a gauge of 18sts/4", if my memory serves me. I took up a 6mm circular bamboo needle and cast on a swatch, using Malva on its own, to see how it would come out. Malva is a very light cotton ribbon. The stitch count came out just fine: 18sts exactly. Problem was, the fabric was like gossamer. You can see it in the lower part of this photo:

See? You can see daylight through it. That's not going to hold a structured shape, is it. And I am not trying to go for the floaty look. Pondering what to do, I remembered I had some hot pink 4ply Cotton by Rowan in my stash. I held & knit it together with the Malva for a few rows, and you can see the result in the upper part of this photo. A much denser fabric, I think you'll agree. Now this is something I could see myself wearing. I like the colour (enough) although I think it drowns the green in the Malva. I wouldn't mind trying some 4ply Cotton in green, just to see if it looks better. The main thing I discovered, though, is that Rowan's 4ply Cotton must be a lot thicker than this New Smoking. Held together with Malva, I'm getting gauge of 16sts to 4". This just *might* be a good thing as the sizes in the Filatura di Crosa pattern jump from 34" chest to 38". My chest is exactly between sizes. The pattern calls for 18sts to 4", and my current yarn combo yields 16sts. I sense a useful trade-off here but I have yet to think through the finer points of the plan.


Phildar Nautical Button Sweater

The community of enablers over at Angel Yarns exposed me to this graphic pornography:

As soon as I saw it, I fell in love. The fit. The stripes that stop short of the shoulders & bust. The button detail. I had to have it. The yarn and pattern are both by Phildar. The beige yarn is Phil Thalassia. It's 75% cotton, baby soft and has a recommended gauge of 20sts. The blue yarn is Falaise. It's 48% cotton (the rest is mainly acrylic) and it has little flecks of other colours here and there. It's a heavier, more textured yarn and its recommended gauge is 17sts. I set about making a gauge swatch. You need to make a stripy swatch, as my online friend Aberdonian helpfully pointed out, and the pattern calls for 17.5sts to 4". My guess about what needle size to use was way off: I went through five different sizes before I finally got there. I need to sleep on it and measure again. Ultimately, I think we'll be using needles of around 6mm: these are bamboo.

And that's all today's knitting news.


Fiona said...

The reckless promising of socks to people (even your dad) is not to be encouraged. She says this speaking from experience - last week's demand from the BF to make SIL a pair of rainbow stripey socks...with five days notice until her birthday.

Holly of HollYarns said...

What a perfect sweater! Could you share the title of the sweater?