Thursday, May 11, 2006

Swatch, swatch, swatch

So, you all might be wondering what I've been doing lately seeing as how I'm totally delinquent in my blogging. You may remember that Lovely Knitting Instructor Josie asked me what I was going to do that would be Hard. For. Me.

Yeah, that's what I said. Hard.... um, Dunno. I mean I can do cables, I can follow a pattern, make lace, entrelac and what have you. But, to date, I have never finished a "grownup" sweater. (The Somewhat Cowl is still OTN, I'm doing about 2 rows a night and they just. won't. end.)

I thought I would do an Aran, but then there was the drop shoulder thing which Alyssa graciously reminded me that that might not work. Drop shoulders are Not So Good when combined with b00bs. So, I had a long chat with Madame Josie about that Aran sweater and the whole drop shoulder thing. While we talked, Josie convinced me to turn the drop shoulder into a raglan (yeah, right). She said we would need to make the cables meet at the shoulder at the same point as the body cables and such. I allowed as how that would definitely qualify as "Hard for Me".

So now, I'm swatching. I need 51/2 sts and 7 rows to the inch in Moss Stitch (aka Seed stitch)

Let's talk a little about my knitting style and yarn, shall we?

I am a "Loose Knitter" (this may actually have something to do with that whole Knitting Monogamy issue we discussed earlier, but the jury is still out). Being a loose knitter means that when a ball band says use US8 needles, I get to use US3 to get gauge. I was just in the Keweenaw Shepherd yesterday afternoon and the LOVELY shop owner said "The only knitter I've ever known who had to go down 2-3 needle sizes to get gauge was left handed."

"Um, well, I'm left handed but I don't knit backwards", says I. "Doesn't matter", says she. So, friends and compatriots if you're left handed, do you have to drop down several needle sizes to get gauge, too?

Being a loose knitter has it's advantages and disadvantages. For example, I don't get crampy hands the way some knitters do, BUT I cannot get gauge with Aran weight yarn on anything larger than a US2 and even then, my st gauge is too big and my row gauge is too too too tiny. So, the whole Aran Sweater with Aran yarn idea is Right Out (saw Spamalot this weekend, it was hilarious).

Here are my test swatches just to prove that a) I really have been working on my knitting (even though I have no appreciable progress to show on anything) b.) I have tried EVERY BLOODY YARN I could find that might work for an Aran sweater.

First I swatched with Jaeger Extra Fine Merino Aran and it was WAAYY to big. Back to the pile. So, I picked up some single balls of other stuff to test...

Swatch Set 1 (sorry about the bad lighting)

From bottom to top:
  1. Queensland DK Tweed (US3)- Too big and you can't see the cables. (Scrapped)
  2. Filature di Crosa - Wave (US 2) - Bumpy and bubbly and you can't see the stitch definition. (Scrapped)
  3. Jo Sharp - Silk Road Aran (US2) - OMG!! This yarn is soooo beautiful! You can tell I loved it because the swatch is twice as big as all the others. BUT this is the one where I was getting 8-9 sts and 18 rows per 2 inches. I blocked the bejezuz out of it, but because it's silk, it just bounced right back. Lesson learned: When using silks or silk blend yarns, make sure the gauge you want is the one coming off your needles. (Oh yeah, for this application: Scrapped)

Swatch Set 2

From Bottom to Top

  1. (Actually swatch #4) The Fiber Co. - Babe (US3) too fuzzy, not the kind of stitch definition I want. Beautiful but not right. It's super soft Alpaca and Merino.
  2. (#5) Jamieson - Aran something (US2) - In this really pretty oatmeal color. I like the color, but it's too scratchy and it made my index finger RAW knitting with it.
  3. Jamieson - DK (US2) - this is really a Sport Weight it's Maroon and I get gauge, but again with the flesh falling off my finger thing. (Scrapped)

THEN late last night I'm sitting there and BLAMMO!! It hits me. The lovely lady from Keweenaw Shepherd looked at the original yarn called for in this pattern and said Rowan Magpie in 51/2 sts to the inch!!! Magpie was the same weight as Malabrigo! Look at the sweater in the book, does that look like it was knit with Malabrigo?! No way!" She looked up Magpie and it was 41/2 sts /in, not 51/2.

I get the dummy award for the day. Jaeger Extra Fine Merino DK. I have it in my stash left over from the C. lowe workshop. In Stockinette I get 6 sts and 8 ros to the inch. In seed stitch I bet I bet I get 5.5 by 7, just. like. I. need. And... it's soft and yummy.

So, at 10:58 p.m. I rip the finger chewing Jamieson DK off my needles and throw it aside, careless about the kitty chewing opportunities (they didn't touch it either, btw) and march off to the "Yarn Closet" as my husband now fondly refers to it. I dig around for a few minutes and PRESTO! Rose Petal Pink, Kermit Green and Chocolate Brown partial balls of goodness in my hands. I sit down and start swatching.


The lady at Keweenaw was telling me that I wouldn't be happy with an Aran where the cables didn't "pop". Last night, it occurred to me that I'm not all that crazy about Aran's with cables that pop. I like the stitch design, but I don't need extra lumps on my already somewhat lumpy body.

So, now I just have to find someone who carries Jaeger XFM DK in the pretty Oatmeal color I want. I've got to go check and see if Webs takes special orders. I really don't want to buy 19 balls at $8.75 each. Bleh. From Webs I can get them for just over $6.00. I'll keep you posted.



Blogger Alyssa said...

Hooray! So glad you found the perfect yarn. Looking forward to seeing you knit that bad boy:)

4:13 PM  
Anonymous Anna Marie said...

Jen I am happy you found the perfect yarn for this project. With all the work you put into finding it as well as your exemplary skill at knitting, it will be fantastic. Can't wait to see it coming together @ Thursday nite class w/ Josie. Hope you will be there thru summer. See you next week.

6:59 AM  
Anonymous Lynae said...

Tenacious....that is the word. Holy crap, that is a LOT of swatching.

Spamalot was HILARIOUS! I saw it last year with the original cast and was in tears pretty much the whole show.

I am with you on the extra lumps and bumps!

10:48 AM  

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