Sunday, February 22, 2009

Vanilla Beans

So, I have been wanting a few "plain vanilla" projects to work on in between my more complicated and demanding cable or other projects. Perversely, with a white and orange cat, I still attempt to maintain my preference for black clothing. Yeah, Sisyphus has nothing on me. At least I haven't (yet) developed allergies. Yet. {knocks wood; throws salt over shoulder, etc.}

I've been repeatedly admiring the Everybody Knows cardigan on the recent edition of Knitty, but I don't particularly care for doing *all garter stitch all the time* either, so I decided I'd model my sweater on that pattern, but do seed (a.k.a. moss) stitch to stabilize the curl at the bottom, and then just continue thereafter with stockinette stitch. I left out here nifty stripes of yarn-overs, as I just didn't desire them, and concentrated my efforts on planning my darts (which I will have to make a little more complicated than hers in order to match my body type, oh joy). So far, so good. Since I couldn't make up my mind which yarn to select, I opted for the charcoal grey Pastaza yarn, and for another in the black Eco + bulky, both from Cascade yarns. Happily that bulky comes in 478 yard skeins, which makes it *way* cheaper - huzzah. Given my color choices, and the simple but absurd fact that I chose to make two cardigans... well, it's become my Vanilla Bean project (right color scheme, at least). My BFE (big fat excuse / justification) for this project this late in the season of cold is that by the time I get anywhere close to finishing one of them it'll be camping and beach-walking season, and it's very breezy and chilly at night in Maine, especially on an island, so I think I'm justified. So there.

Now if only I had the time and patience for color work, I'd make the hilarious, crazy fish hats in this month's edition. Dang.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Pakucho, Cascade Pastaza, Berroco Inca Gold

So, the Pakucho arrived, and I've been very excited to get those samples started. At first blush, it feels nice and soft, like an old (favorite) terry cloth bathrobe. For my purposes, this is excellent: the softness of age with the strength of a new fiber. Nice colors, and allegedly they improve upon the first, hot, washing. When I get these finished I'll update with photos.

Cascade Pastaza: color #007, Charcoal
I've had this material for a while, but finally decided which sweater pattern - there were several that I admired. Eventually I decided what I really wanted this season was an all-around, simple but daily use type of garment - like a suit-coat for the office, only in sweater form. The dark charcoal color, flecked with a few white fibers, is perfect for that purpose, and I chose the "Everybody Knows" pattern from the latest edition of I varied the pattern (hm, big surprise there!) - her pattern is intended to be simple, which is fine, but I don't care for the look or feel of all garter stitch, all the time. Plus, it simply uses up way more yarn. Maybe 150% the yarn of stockinette, if you're talking an entire sweater? I ran the numbers, and that's about how it came out. So, I'm going with mostly stockinette, with a few darts inserted to suit my own figure, and some stripes on the sleeves in basketweave stitch.

I got out my #9s to start, and realized I didn't have any lonnnng circulars in that size. Thank you Lucy at Mind's Eye Yarns, who remained open a few minutes longer than usual in spite of the snow (and attendant annoying traffic) the other night, and I was able to solve my immediate needle dilemma.

So, the yarn itself is thick, ~4st/in and 6.5rows/in. It has, from my point of view, a light twist, and it's a little easy to split when knitting, particularly when doing a cable-cast on. Once it's working though, it's great. It yields a nice, thick, opaque, but flexible fabric. Soft to the touch yet still sturdy. Oddly, this particular colorway is hard to find at my usual LYSes and online sources. I got the original stuff at MEY, but at the moment they're out, and only seems to have it; otherwise most LYS indicate I must buy a whole bag of it. Since I already bought 3/4 of what I need...that's a little overkill for me. I'll do a little further investigations on it.

Berroco Inca Gold: so yeah, I had to just try this one. Part of the appeal was its color alone. I love soft, greyish sea greens. I was at Cranberry Fiber Arts in Hamilton, Massachusetts when I saw this stuff; I had stopped in for no other reason than to browse. This one's a worsted / 10 ply (9 wpi), at 122.0 yards per skein. The official colorway is 6418 Verde Azulado, which I admit isn't terribly grey, but there you go. I wanted something like the sea, and I was on my way for a walk on the beach.

I found when I knitted a swatch of this in stockinette stitch, I didn't care for the curling it did. Stiff - soft & squishy, but too springy for something I'd wear. sproing! On the other hand, I tried it in horseshoe lace, and that sample has turned out so well I've kept going... go figure.
So, I'm planning to make a hood out of it, but it would make a great little sweater in that lace too, if I didn't have a zillion other projects going at once…