Thursday Miscellany

I’ve been away from the blog for a bit, enjoying the company of family over the Thanksgiving holiday, and taking every opportunity that I could to knit, and knit I did!  Knitting is a wonderful antidote to the tedium of hours of football-watching and the inevitable delays one incurs while waiting for the whole family to gather to do anything or go anywhere.  Knitting captures what would otherwise be lost time, and does so beautifully.

I rushed to put together the Melbourne Pullover so that my brother could try it on before I weaved in the ends and knit up the neckline.  I thought it fit great, but he wanted an extra inch or so on the sleeves.  Sigh.  The man has preternaturally long arms.  I had knit and knit and knit and thought the arms would be so long that he’d have to cuff the sleeves, but no such luck.  I think the sleeves are a good length, but if he’s not  happy with them,  I’m concerned that he won’t wear the sweater.  Taking advantage of the stretchiness of the yarn (which, for once, should work in my favor, I think!), I was able to stretch the sleeves an inch and a half during blocking.  As a matter of fact, it’s blocking right now, and I’ll post photos once it’s all dried.  Another project to go out the door by Christmas!

It’s turned out well, but I’ll be glad to see it out the door.  I plan to turn my attention to the Saxon Braid Aran and also the Rosebud Shawl.  Both of those, not coincidentally, are for me.  It probably sounds selfish, but I tend to get more exicted about projects I knit for myself than those I knit for others.  Of all the people I know, I’m the most passionate about wearing handknits.  When I knit for others, I often see my efforts languish in closets rather than worn cheerfully, even though they’re knit well and fit well.  Me?  I’d wear handknits every day if I had enough of them.

Speaking of which, I cast off the back on the Saxon Braid Aran, and so far, so good.  It blocked up to a perfect 18 X 23 inches, and I’m working on the ribbing for the front now.

Another thing I did was finish the pink swatch.  The Black Water Abbey yarn holds a very nice cable, but as others have remarked, it is quite scratchy.  I was pleased that a good soak and blocking made the fabric just about as soft as the yarn from Virtual Yarns.

With this swatch, I tried hard to knit more tightly, wrapping the yarn several times around my little finger.  Knitting went much more slowly than usual, and required a lot of concentration.  After one repeat, I changed to my usual grip, and noticed no discernable difference when I changed techniques.  About all I got for my efforts was a bit of a yarn burn.  So, I’m going to have to deal with the fact that I’m a loose knitter and continue adjusting as I always have — with much smaller needles and reducing the number of stitches to obtain the size article I want.

In case you’re curious as to how a 1-ounce snack-sized ball from Black Water Abbey knits up, it makes a decent-sized swatch with a little left over:

The color in the first photo is more true than the one above.  Lighting conditions weren’t that great for the second photo, but it will show you how much yarn was left over after swatching.  The swatch is about 34 stitches wide, 40 rows long, and is about 7 inches long and 6 1/2 inches wide.

I don’t know how my loose gauge is going to work when I do the gansey wrap, but that’s one of the reasons I’m doing a wrap, rather than a whole sweater.  I need to experiment with motifs, needle sizes, and see whether such a style with yarn that must be knitted tightly is even going to work with my particular way of knitting.

Anyway, my plan for the swatches is to do two repeats of Saxon Braid to see how the cables show up in each color, and I’ll also wash and block everything.  Then, between the swatches of Black Water Abbey, Virtual Yarns, and Jamieson’s, I’ll have a whole bunch of colors that I can use to decide on Arans in the future.

I also resurrected my Rosebud Shawl, which has become too ungainly for travel.  I’ll alternate among it, the Saxon Braid Aran, and my swatching efforts and hope to make progress on all of them.

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