Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cables, A Lot of Them

A while back, Elann had a bag sale on its house brand Peruvian Donegal.  I'd never used this yarn but always curious about it.  I decided to splurge after seeing the lovely feature design.  I bought two bags.  One bag is never enough for a sweater, and often two bags are too much.  I figured I can always make a vest or few hats or mittens with the extra.

I really liked the yarn when I opened up the box.  I actually just let the bags of yarn hang out in the living room and never bothered to store it.  Somehow, I knew I wanted to get to it soon, and constantly seeing it would give me some ideas what to do with it.

I did get to it in 3 weeks.  With 20 balls of yarn I decided to go with a very basic cable long coat with straight forward silhouette, big ribbing button bands and collars.  I knitted up a big swatch with a stitch pattern I found on a book.  When I started knitting, I changed the stitch pattern somewhat.  It was the same stitch count for each repeat, so no need to recalculate.  I did a quick small swatch just to see the modification of stitch pattern I had in mind would look alright.

It was a lot of cabling since there are total 11 columns of cables, and cabling twice every 10 rows.  It felt like it was going on forever especially with the longer than usual sweater length.  Cables, and more cables.

The yarn was nice to work with.  It's nothing fancy, but I really like it.  I like how basic it looks when knitted up, yet it's not too scratchy (though not next to skin wear.)  I want to make more sweaters with this yarn in different colors.   While knitting I was afraid it will get too heavy to wear with all that yarn.  But when I tried it on after sewing the shoulders together, it didn't feel heavy at all.

It came out slightly bigger on the shoulder because the ribbing tend to stretch out a bit comparing to measuring it in swatch.  That's the minor thing I'd fix it if I were to make it again.  But all in all, I'm in love with this sweater.  It's nothing clever, nothing fancy, nothing designy, just a good o' cable sweater with a belt.  It's so me.  It is comfortable,  it is warm.  Many of the sweaters I make I only wear them when I go out, and I don't wear them to work (except accessories) and they become a bit precious. The reason I can't wear them to work is I know I'll inevitably get some charcoal or paint on them.  But this one, I can see myself wearing it all the time, even to work.  In fact I wore it around the house all afternoon today 'cause it was so very snuggly and warm for this cold winter day.   

It was knitted bottom up with front and back as one piece up to armpit.  The set-in sleeves were knitted separately.   Then I pick up stitches along the front for button bands, then pick up stitches along neckline for collar, all these were done in 2x2 ribbing, so was the belt.

I had only 2 balls left.  I think I can make a matching hat.

I didn't even have to buy buttons.  I found exactly 4 buttons in my button bag that are the right size and are gray. Perfect.

I'm now dreaming of another sweater using the same yarn in brown.... or maybe white...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Sweater and Two Pairs of Boots

I made a sweater, but let me first tell you about the new boots I bought.

This is so exciting, I actually found not just one pair, but two pairs of boots that my thick calves and wide feet can fit into.  Even better, the store had a sale of "Buy one pair shoes, get two pairs free."  So I had to grab another pair of shoes too. 

I got them at the Bass outlet in town.   I had not bought any shoes in over a year so even though I felt very guilty for spending $110 but isn't it awesome that I got 3 pairs of shoes? A girl's dream shopping day!

For those of you with nice thinner calves, you have no idea how big this is.  It's like finding Holy Grail - tall boots that fit and the not making the legs look like gigantic elephant trunks, and stylish enough. This is seriously exciting.

So they're not exactly the best shoes to go with the new sweater I made.  But I didn't care, I just wanted to wear them and show them off here.

Oh, and the new sweater.  I dyed the yarn with Rabbitbrush flowers that I gathered earlier this fall.  I just had this idea of dyeing varied tones to make a sweater. The flowers yield very loverly and bright yellow.  The lightest yellow were quick dips, and iron was thrown in the dye to modified it to green.  The dark greenish gray was first dyed with Rabbitbrush and iron, then overdyed with Logwood Gray that I purchased.  They were mordanted with alum.

My idea was to make a sweater that is more modern than traditional Fairisle (which I love and I may still make one with the leftover yarn - though it will have to be a vest or very short sweater with the amount I have.)   

It was knitted sideway.  First the Fairisle band, then the multi-tones folding section.  I was kinda uneasy about it because I'd never knitted anything sideway, but the calculation was so much easier than I expected.  I'd love to do another sideway sweater soon.  The construction was very simple, all st sts.

The sad part was when I blocked the sweater, the pinning stained the sweater on the lightest stripes of color.  It was so so very sad.  I used stain remover which lightened up the stains a bit, but it also created few light spots.  In the end, it looked better than the stain spots, and in real life it's not as noticeable.

I have to say, I really love designing my own sweaters.  Part of it comes from my not liking to follow directions (in knitting and in life.)  I tend to get bored half way through knitting a pattern, even though I have enough discipline to always finish the knitting.  With designing my own, I get to think about it as I go, which is the process I love. I very often changed ideas as I knit. I love tweaking things and trying to come up with an idea within the specific confine of the material.  For this one, I dyed the yarn first and let them sit while allowing ideas to brew. The criteria here was to show off tonal variation, yet remain simple enough even with some fairisle thrown in.   My inspiration was the aspen trees that were so breathtakingly beautiful few weeks back.   I took the verticality of the trees and combined with tonal variation of the foliage.   To capture the flickering light when the leaves rustle I thought the band of fairisle may work.  The dark greenish gray was the pine trees of the woods surrounding it to give contrast.   So I called this "Aspen".