Sunday, April 22, 2012

My Very First Handspun Sweater

I'd been wanting to make a handspun sweater.  But I was not up for spinning 1000+ yards of the same color yarn.

After staring at and thinking about the 395 yards of Finn Top I'd dyed and spun last weekend, I decided to make a sweater by adding to it the Grey Shetland that I'd spun a while back. Jumping on the stripes bandwagon here since it was the simplest way to combine two yarns for enough yardage for a sweater. I used up every yard of the Finn Top plus 215 yards of the Shetland.

dyed Finn Top


Grey Shetland

Super, duper easy and quick knit. It took me much longer to dye and spin than to knit this sweater. At the gauge of 4.5 sts per inch using US #6 needles, this sweater took me 3 days to knit accompanied by one episode of Foyle's war and marathons of Doc Martin.  I was also able to squeeze in a documentary of Yves Sanit Laurent in French with English subtitles thanks to the St sts. It did feel kinda surreal watching the story of this couture fashion icon while knitting a very homemade looking sweater and wearing my homely looking pajamas. I knew so little about fashion world, so it was for sure an interesting story to watch.  I couldn't keep my jaws from dropping when I spotted Matisse paintings on his walls. Although not a huge fan of late Mondrian's work, I definitely found his Mondrian-look dresses amusing. One thing I really admired about YSL's creations was his work provided possibilities of imagination to the viewers.  The romance with clothes in many of his collections was that they make you dream about something beyond the dresses themselves.

As far as my non-fashion sweater, it was knitted top down in raglan style. Began with 5 rows of garter sts in Grey Shetland. The stripes were alternated every 2 rows until underarm, then continued with only the main color until the 2x2 hem border.

It turned out to be a rather cute top, if I may say so myself. Shetland was not a next-to-skin fiber for me, but Finn was much softer.

I finally made a handspun sweater! albeit a small and short one.  I may just dye up a full sweater worth of fiber pretty soon...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Thinking of Waves

I have been missing the ocean.  It's nice to have the lake here, but it's not the same, not for someone who always grew up nearby the ocean.  The waves are small and soothing here unlike the dramas of the Pacific.

I wanted to make a shawl using short rows to create the curvy lines and shapes as tides and waves.  A medium blue was what I had in mind but I didn't have any yarn of that color in stash, so I used white Lana Gatto Mignon, a fingering weight, that I bought from Elann.

The design was pure improvisation.  This was the most improvised project I think I'd ever done. I started with few images of the top section in my head and just went for it, not even knowing how short rows will work for my ideas.  I started thinking it will be a swatch, but it just kept growing and growing.  Then rest of it was created on the fly.  It felt very intriguing to have little idea of how the shawl looked as I progressed.  A top-down sweater was always fairly easy to visualize.  But my shawl knitting experience was somewhat limited, and with the stitches all bunched up, I never got to see how it looked stretched out.  I half guessed in all my mental visualization with this one.  It was kinda exciting I must say. Whenever I wasn't sure what next, I'd just get up and eat some junk food. Boy, did I eat a lot of junk food during knitting this. Sometimes I'd return with clearer ideas, sometimes I didn't and I still would forge on, just pretended I knew what I wanted exactly. When I got to the bottom section, I actually sketched out quickly some general shapes on the paper and just winged it thinking it will look somewhat similar to the sketch.  Well, yes and no.  The shapes turned out very similar but I drew the shawl more a half moon shape when it turned out to be more crescent moon. The shawl was more elegant than my drawing. What a good thing.

It certainly was exhilarting when the project came off the needles and stretched out before my eyes.

I overdyed the shawl with acid dye.  It came out a bit uneven but not bad at all. I just mixed teal with blue with brown. I forgot to wash the shawl first with soap and the dye was running even after tons of vinegar added. I would definitely think twice before overdyeing a sweater.  

I do love the shawl very much.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Spring is Here Once Again

Yarn: Madil Absolute, 9 balls (exactly) - 1080 yards, color: Antique Pink
Needles : US #5

I bought the pink yarn completely on a whim.  Really, light pink is a difficult color to wear for me.  Not only the little girliness is not my wardrobe style, also, pink makes me look wider. I almost never wear it, and I hardly ever use it in my art.  But, just because it's not as versatile in my world doesn't mean I don't like it.  In fact, I love pink. Lately I have been dreaming of a lavender-ish pink and I have yet to find one I like, and I'm too lazy to experiment to dye one up that is exactly to my liking.  I've also come to think the color I have in mind looks better with some material (such as silk fabric) than others such as knitted wool.

Anyhow... when Elann had Absolute Madil on sale last month, I was staring at the screen thinking, "dusty pink is not a bad pink either."  The color was called Antique Pink. It had been so long since I bought any pink yarn, so it felt like it was about time. At $4/ball that has 70% wool (probably merino) and 30% cashmere, I was willing to chance it.

After I got the yarn I couldn't wait to knit it.  But into what?  My first thought was a hoodie, but the classic feminine, more lady-ish than girl-ish pink made me drop the idea of a hoodie.  So I thought about making  something to wear with a beige color spring dress as my starting point, no matter that I don't own a beige color dress. The yarn was too soft for a structured jacket, and too heavy for a light scarf. A cardigan sounded like a good choice for me.

To minimize the widening effect pink has on me, I decided to go with vertical elements, specifically ribbing.  But I'd always been very hesitant about wearing vertical ribbing sweaters beacuase its tendency to draw attention to chest area due to stretching of the ribbing.  So wider ribbing and zero to positive ease was my solution.  The idea of simple top-down raglan sweater  - my favorite, was an easy choice.

Once again I could not stick to completely basic sweater.  So I decided to swatch tiny cables and added them to the upper part of the sweater as minimum decorations.  That led to the idea of bigger cables around the waist both as decoration and as waist shaping.

All in all, it was a very simple sweater to make.  It didn't take too long.  The process was interrupted by a quick yet exhausting trip to Bay Area.  I was so very happy to get back to knitting it after I returned home.

I even started to write a pattern for it, but writing top-down raglan for multi-sizes could be tedious if there were motifs in intervals and the intervals varied from size to size.  I found that out when I began a pattern for Midsomer Sunshine, and was completely overwhelmed by having to write individual instruction for each single size at multiple points (it's still sitting there waiting for me to get the motivation to finish it.)  I think this one should be easier, but it's still more math and thinking involved than straight St st or all over stitch-motif.

Lately my new favorite thing to watch on TV while knitting is British Detective Series "Foyle's War."  It's set in WWII era, love the stories, the characters, and the clothes. It's even better than Inspector Lewis and Midsomer Murders in my opinion. I'd watched season 1-3 via Amazon Prime while knitting this cardigan.  Even Paul really likes the series too (though not loving it, he will watch Lewis, but he's not a fan of Midsomer at all.) I love the character Sam in it.  I wish I can call this sweater Sam, but I simply cannot see her wearing this pink or this style. One day I'll make a sweater that I can see her wearing.  For now, this is a pink sweater I can actually see myself wearing, 'cause the yarn is oh-so-soft.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Color that Made My Heart Skip a Beat

Guess who the lucky girl is today? Me, Me, Meeeee!
I received this yarn in the mail today.  It's from new shop, "Doodles in String" with Etsy.
The color is called Sweetness, it's 80/10/10 SW Merino/Cashmere/Nylon , Fingering Weight, 435 yards/100grams.

I'm not easily attracted to blue due to years and years of wearing blue school uniforms.  This yarn had convinced me that blue is an amazing color.  It has slightly more green in it than my camera could capture.  And it has some very subtle spots of yellow. 

When I opened up the package, my heart skipped a beat. I expected some beautiful yarn, but this feels so special. It's now my new favorite color.  It reminds me of sea glass.  It also has the perfect shade.  It's the blue I didn't know that I'd been waiting for it for a long time....  

Now I'm completely torn between trying to come up with something worthy of it and saving it so I can pet its super softness.