Of Sweaters and “Stinkerballs” – Among Other Things

Brea is going along nicely. The front and back are done and are the same size (no mean feat, when you consider my issues with gauge). I adore the color so far, and the yarn is marvelous!  While I did the front and back separately, I have cast on both sleeves, and will work them simultaneously. The way I knit, this – or double knitting, which I will not try with cables – is the only way I have ever been able to guarantee that both sleeves will be the same size.

Because Rowan Lima is a chained yarn, rather than a plied yarn, weaving in the ends has been wonderful. It’s much easier to catch the appropriate bits of the back of the piece to weave the ends in, This is an especially good thing, because I do like to take breaks and weave the ends in as I go, so I don’t have a forest of ends to bury after the item is made up. It’s especially good in this case, since each of the two bags of yarn I ordered seems to have what I term a “stinkerball.” This is a ball of yarn that has a ton of loose ends. Sometimes, the ends are left loose, like the ball I am working with on one sleeve. Other times, there are knots – usually needing to be undone because they fall in bad spots and would show on the outside of the garment (like the stinkerball in the first bag of yarn). Stinkerballs are mostly annoying, rather than really problematic, but I dislike them, especially since they seem to occur more in higher end yarns. However, as my mother would have said, this should be my worst problem….

I have a few things waiting for when this project is done. The first is another sweater in Rowan yarn – Crete. It’s a basket stitch sweater, designed for a guy, but I know how to adjust it down to fit me. It’s done in Rowan’s Creative Linen yarn. After that, I have a shawl kit from Craftsy to do. It’s called the Old Toll Road Shawl, and is a rectangular shawl in a lovely lacy stitch. That will be done in Wool Fingering Twist from Cloudborn Fibers. Also down the pike are two crocheted yoga mat bags, to be made out of good, old, reliable Lily Sugar and Cream cotton yarn. One of the yoga mat bags will be for my yoga teacher. More details on these projects will come as I get to work on them.


Progress and Planning

Brea is coming along nicely. The picture does not do the color justice at all. The color is a beautiful cross between burgundy and cranberry. I’m about 2/3 done with the back of the sweIMG_1049ater, and I still think this is the nicest yarn I have ever worked with. It’s soft and springy, and I can see it will be like wearing a hug when it’s finished.For all that it looks complicated, the yoke is a fairly simple four-row pattern repeat. I’ve done the armhole shaping, and am now working my way toward the shoulders.

This pattern has been a challenge for me in one way, however. Like most Americans, I use the Imperial system (inches and feet, etc). The pattern as written is in centimeters. When I ran the numbers through my online conversion website, the numbers it came up with were things like 12.6 inches for 40 centimeters. I decided to work this using the measurements as written. Fortunately, I do have a tape measure that has inches on once side and centimeters on the other, so I’m finding it easy to work this way.

I also saw a new sweater I want to make on Ravelry. It’s called Crete. It’s a slouchy men’s sweater in basketweave stitch and is done in linen yarn. I found the yarn on sale at Jimmy Beans Wool, so I grabbed it. I bought enough yarn to make the largest size, but with sizing down the length of the sleeves to fit my arms, I should have enough to make the second largest size instead.

So, it’s kinda late here, and I’m about to finish the row of Brea I’m working on then try to get some sleep. I have not been sleeping well lately, and it’s affecting everything from my blood pressure to my knitting gauge. So, I hope everyone has a great week and has some lovely knitting or crochet work to show at the end of it. (Beaded jewelry would be alright, too.)

Hello, Again!

It’s been a really long time since I’ve posted here, but I have a couple of good reasons — heart surgery and spinal surgery. Between hospitals and rehabs, I have not felt much like knitting, writing, or even writing about knitting.

A week ago, however, Ellen Kushner posted a pic of a beautiful sweater her wife had made her. When I finally stopped drooling, I asked Delia for the pattern or a link to it, and she pointed me here. I then spent a few hours searching the web for someone who would have the correct yarn, which had been discontinued, in enough quantity for me to make the sweater in my size. Found the yarn (Rowan’s Lima Color in Colorway 712 – Rosario) at Seattle’s Little Knits. Then came the waiting for the yarn to arrive – one week to the day from ordering it!  It’s amazing yarn – 84% alpaca, 8% merino, and 8% nylon! Buttery soft, and very subtle color variation. It’s a chain, rather than twisted plies, and it knits up deliciously.

I swatched it before dinner, and decided that I needed to go down one size on the needles for the sweater, since I knit a tad loosely. The back has been cast on now, and is an inch long as I type this. If I can keep my gauge steady, which will be no mean feat, this will be the most gorgeous thing I have ever made. Pictures as the sweater happens.

Review: Stick Play: A Beginner’s Guide to Knitting (Kindle Edition), by Ashley Anderson

I really wanted to recommend this book, but I cannot. The writer gets facts wrong, and her explanations are confusing at best.

For example, when discussing working from a chart she says: “When knitting flat, you will work the first row from right to left, and on the return you will knit left to right. Or, more simply, on odd numbered row you will be working from right to left. On even numbered rows you will be working across the chart from right to left.”*

Her first run-on sentence is actually correct, but her third sentence is wrong.

She also confuses Contentinental knitting and English knitting, among other errors. Most Americans knit Continental, which involves holding the yarn in the left hand and scooping one’s stitches. English knitting involves holding the yarn in the right hand and throwing it around the needle to make stitches.

There are many reputable beginner knitting books on the market, and I would be happy to recommend some if contacted privately. Sadly, this is not one of them.

*Anderson, Ashley (2012-06-26). Stick Play: A Beginner’s Guide to Knitting (Kindle Locations 414-415). . Kindle Edition.

Trying the Multi-Project Route

After finding myself stalled out on the socks I am working on, and needing a project I could work on kind of without thinking much at a party I went to this last weekend, I started my net commission – a pair of fingerless mitts for a friend.

I haven’t gotten much knitting done this week, though. I’ve had writing and editing deadlines up to my ears.  This is not because I have had too much work; it’s more because I seem to have acquired a summer cold that is kicking my butt.

I hope to get back to my regular schedule soon.

Knitting Apathy

I’m struggling to get a pair of socks knit that should have taken me two weeks, tops.  Instead, it’s been a month or so, and I have to get them finished, because I have other commissions in the pipeline.

Not sure what the problem is; it doesn’t feel like summer knitting apathy — you know — when it’s just too damned hot to knit.  Oh well, will slog through, one stitch at a time, if necessary.

Why I Love Independent Dyers

As many of you know I do get a good portion of the yarn I buy from independent dyers. This is not to say I don’t buy yarn from major companies any more; it is to say that when I have the choice and the money, the independent dyer often wins out.

I feel this way for a number of reasons:

1.  I can build a real relationship with an independent dyer.  Some of the dyers I use (I’m looking at you, Kellee and Melissa) have become real friends over the years, whether I’ve ever met them in person or not.

2.  Independent dyers are primarily doing this because they love to create gorgeous yarns. Yes, when they earn money from it, it’s wonderful, but these are fellow creatives, and I will always support a creative over a corporation, given the choice.

3.  The service.  Maybe I’m just lucky, but I have never had bad service from an independent dyer. What I have had is friendly and excellent service, often accompanied by little surprises (of the pleasant sort) in my orders. I’ve gotten stickers, pencils, stitch markers, and once, I even was gifted with a travel kit of body essentials.  Beats the heck out of a snarling clerk in a discount yarn store any day, let me tell you.

4. The yarn itself. I can order exactly what I want, in the yarn I want.  And I have never had a dyer charge me more for a custom hank than they did for a hank they just came up with.  I get the choice of yarn, too. That skein of Panda she did in DK – can I get it in sock or laceweight? Yep. And if she (or he, but most of the dyers I deal with are women) doesn’t have the particular weight I want, they will let me know when they are expecting their next shipment of it, as well as letting me know what they do have on hand in the weight I want.

5. Negotiating power. I am on a limited budget, and I have had independent dyers hold a color I fell in love with until my pension check comes in and clears. And if that is not possible, or if someone else has shown interest in the same skein(s), I have been able to work out deals where they would dye some up for me when I had the cash to spend on it.  I have also been given wonderful discounts for being a loyal customer (and that also goes for independent pattern designers).

6. Finally, these are people who understand. They love fiber as much as i do; in all its colors, textures, and glory.  They get it.  There is an understanding between us, even when I am negotiating my first or second order, that their fiber is going to a good home, and that I will turn that fiber into something that I or someone else will love and cherish.

And I think that understanding is — quite possibly — the best part of dealing with an independent dyer.  It’s what makes us sisters (and brothers) under the skin.  We each understand and respect the effort the other one will put into creating our end result.  And it’s a very seductive feeling.  And it’s why I keep returning to independent dyers, spinners, and other creatives when I want really good yarn for something.

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