Thursday, July 6, 2023

The Groundwork

Everyone knows I'm a sock knitter, so it's no surprise that having decided to knit a sweater I feel completely out of my depth. Never mind that, I'm determined to knit myself a sweater that fits and that I enjoy wearing.

But what pattern? I did an advanced search on Ravelry for my three must-have characteristics:

(i) TOP DOWN CONSTRUCTION  I am very tall - over 6 foot - so I'll need to try on my WIP and adjust as I go. I'm anticipating that I may need extra rows between the neck and the bottom of the armhole, and I'm definitely going to want extra length in the body and sleeves.

(ii) RAGLAN SLEEVES  I have very wide shoulders. I've never found a woman's shirt or jacket that fits in the shoulders, except those with drop shoulders or raglan sleeves. As much as I moon over all those sweaters in "Hot Right Now" with round colourwork yokes, that kind of sweater doesn't fit me at all. My hope is that a Raglan will give me the fit I'm looking for. 

(iii) DK WEIGHT YARN  I want a nice squishy fabric but the thought of a worsted sweater just makes me feel hot and uncomfortable.

That's when I saw this pattern: Fall Line. It ticks my boxes and in addition, I like the plainness of the neck, chest and shoulders areas. No need to add bulky patterning in those areas!

Next step? Yarn. Remember that comment about "a nice squishy fabric" ... so that's wool, right? I chose Cascade 220 Superwash - a nice, reasonably priced wool yarn. It's listed as a Light Worsted, but the knitting gauge is right on where I need to be. Colour-wise I was wavering between 1235 Red Wine Heather and 1918 Shire. Gavin preferred the Shire, and there 10 balls of the same dyelot left, so I ordered them all. I'll need extra for lengthening the sleeves and the body, and besides, it's also the perfect weight yarn for fingerless mitts should there be leftover.

I picked up the yarn from the post office on Tuesday and then bought the pattern. The pattern calls for (2) 4.5 mm circular needles (eek!) - one 24" and one 40". Going through all my supplies I found a 40" Addi Turbo 4.5 mm circular - google confirming that the measurement is from needle tip to tip and NOT just the cord - so I used that to swatch.

The pattern instructions indicate that the swatch is knitted in the round, so that was my first challenge. I cast on 50 sts and learned magic loop from this tutorial by TinCanKnits. Turns out it's a lot easier than I thought and I got the hang of it quickly. I knit 16 rounds and then measured. Looks like my gauge is almost perfect - both stitch gauge and row gauge looks good! I'm feeling very lucky as I was dreading all the math to adjust for that too. A question though... do you suppose that I even need to buy the smaller circular needle? Or can I make do with the 40" long circular?

So I guess that's the groundwork done. Tomorrow I cast on for real!!

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Today I finished a pair of socks that had been on the needles for several weeks - Intersections by Marceline Smith. The yarn is County Vacay Sock in a colourway called "Secret Beach'. It is hadn't-dyed by the proprietor of Rose-Haven Yarn Shop in Picton, Ontario. My sister bought it as a gift for me whilst vacationing in Prince Edward County.

As you can see the yarn is a little busy with flashes of green and blue, so I chose a pattern with a bit of texture but not too pattern-y. The pattern has small crossing cables but nothing too challenging. I'm happy with the end result, but the knitting was a little bit tedious.

On Ravelry there were several comments about the heel being tight and hard to fit over ankles, so I substituted my favourite German Short Row heel for the heel written in the pattern. There's still a noticeable lack of stretch, but the fit's okay.

The legs are quite short - I usually like my legs to be knit at least as long as the foot - but after reading the comments about the inflexibility of the knitted fabric, I chose to play it safe, keep the legs short and add a generous ribbed cuff.

The finished pair weighs 108 grams, so I was fortunate that the yardage is so generous with this sock yarn. I have almost 15 grams left over!

I pushed myself to finish these socks today, because I had a slip from Canada Post to notify me that a parcel was waiting for me. With the holidays around the Canada Day weekend, today was my first opportunity to pick it up. Not a surprise though - it's the yarn I ordered from with this sweater in mind. But more on that another time.

Monday, May 22, 2023

Saltwater Mittens

For my birthday two years ago, my friend Jane gifted me with the book Saltwater Mittens by Christine LeGrow and Shirley A. Scott. To go along with that, my brother sent me 2 skeins each of Turquoise, Yellow and Black in Briggs & Little Regal 2 ply. "Is it enough for a pair of mittens?" he asked. As it turns out, it was enough for 8 pairs of adult mittens and a child's pair. 

After knitting socks, it was fun to knit a heavier weight yarn on much bigger needles. These mitts work up quickly! A pair takes less than a week when knitting during the evening while binge-watching TV. 

Although the book includes instructions for trigger mitts and gloves, I'm not so keen on weaving in ends, so I stuck with mittens. Besides, they're warmer, right? That's a consideration as I'm planning to donate them to charity.

What's next? Socks and more socks. At least a half dozen more pairs until I've worked all the way through my remaining sock yarn. I met up with a local woman who cranks socks - she was happy to accept a couple of bags of sock yarn scraps from me. Aaaah, it feels great knowing that they'll be put to good use.

And then? Who knows ... maybe a sweater?