Posts Tagged ‘swatching’

beginning again

March 5, 2008

Yesterday Ana from snowangels made a good point in my comments – the high cotton content of the Vickie Howell Craft yarn means that the yarn will stretch like crazy, and knitting at an ultra-loose gauge will only compound that. Good thing I have Clara Park’s Knitter’s Book of Yarn waiting for me on the hold shelf of my local library! I forget to take into account the properties of yarn when I’m cooking up projects in my head, but paying attention to what your yarn will do out of the skein and all looped around itself is a huge part of any knitting project.

This is actually part of something bigger that I’m trying to focus on in my knitting this year. For the past year and a little more, I have been knitting pretty obsessively. Mostly I have used yarn that has been given to me or bought on the cheap to make free patterns. I have knit most of my projects while also watching TV or movies or — occasionally — while reading a book or magazine. My attitude towards mistakes has been to get things back to the right stitch count or to close up holes as quickly as possible and damn the craziness this often causes. So my alpaca Fetching mitts have some ribs out of alignment, the toes of the Hedera socks I made for my girlfriend do not match at all, and I spent most of last summer knitting Orangina in complete denial that the top and arm holes were going to be way too large and the ribbing ridiculously tight. (I’ve since ripped out Orangina and started knitting the Josephine top from IK, and I’m now in denial about the fact that the back is two inches wider than it should be to fit properly.)

I’ve yet to make a garment that I can wear, and before I invest more time and money into making one, I’ve promised myself that I will start to be more mindful and careful with my knitting. I am dealing with the fact that I need to rip out the whole back of my Josephine top (all the knitting I’ve done on it) and start over; likewise I need to rip out the entire first sleeve of my Must Have Cardigan (my “gauge swatch” which has already been ripped multiple times) and begin again.

Begin again. Begin again. This is something I’m trying to incorporate into all parts of my life, actually. Approaching life as a beginner, and not persisting in past thoughts or actions, but looking at things afresh…over and over again. It’s hard, obviously, but also – dare I say it? – transformative.

So it’s back to the drawing board with both sweaters currently on my needles. As I think about it, when I began the Josephine top I decided to make it almost tunic length, which I’m no longer convinced is the best thing for this 100% cotton top. With my Must Have Cardigan, the needle size I used caused the fabric to be quite tight, not nearly drapey enough. I’m not just trying to get through these projects, I’m trying to create wearable garments that I will love. It’s time to rip; it’s time to begin again.

And I’m going to go back to my swatch, and begin again with it, too. In No Sheep for You, Amy Singer tells us to not just knit the darn thing and measure the stitches, but to wash it, pin it up to test for sagginess, carry it around to see how the fabric will wear, and really find out what that yarn is going to do while you’re at it. My swatches are partly for teaching myself new stitch patterns and techniques, but there is much to learn about the yarn itself, too.

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yarn review: Vickie Howell Craft

March 4, 2008

I recently had the good luck to receive a large box of leftover balls of yarn from Cirilia and left over skeins from a few others via the Stash and Burn Ravelry Group.  Because I don’t have a large yarn budget these days, and I’ve been wanting to improve my techniques and abilities, I’m taking these wayward skeins as an opportunity to try new yarns and knit swatches of new stitch patterns at the same time.  I hope to do a series of posts reviewing the yarns, stitch patterns, and techniques I try, and to also post ideas for future knitting projects that these little adventures give me.

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This yarn is a-mah-zing.

In the Ravelry Stash and Burn group, we have a thread Nicole started called “Would you like to try…?” People post about leftover or partial skeins they have, and send them to other people who want to feel it, swatch it, basically give it a try.

Lynnewio sent me a partial skein of Vickie Howell Craft yarn from South West Trading Company a few weeks ago and I’m just now swatching it up.

craft swatch

This yarn is luuuuussssshhhh. Seriously. 70% cotton and 30% milk fiber, dk weight. It feels like buttah between my fingers, and this swatch is so slinky. (I’m learning that I love swatches. Now I just have this soft piece of knitting I can touch whenever! And I don’t have to worry about whether or not it fits or if the color looks good on me!)

I’ve read a few posts on Ravelry where people didn’t enjoy knitting with this yarn because of significant pilling.  I didn’t have any pilling while knitting with it, but I also haven’t washed my swatch yet.  I plan to wash it and put in my bag for a while to see how it holds up.   I would like to knit Imogen in this yarn on larger needles for a very drapey, Habu-esque layering piece.

(BTW, have you looked at the kits at Perl Grey?!  I want to knit so many of these pieces!)