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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas sweaters

I have two sweaters to talk about in this post - one finished and one just started!

I have finally completed the Argyle sweater and am pretty pleased with it. There are a couple of things which I would change if I knit it again* but I cannot contemplate alterations right now. I'm just so glad it's done! The fit is nice and stretchy and I love the finish on the 1x1 ribbed neck border. I used the Kitchener stitch bind-off (see here for great instructions with pictures) and it looks great.

It's not a great photo but the argyle pattern shows up nicely in real life. However, this is the last time that I buy yarn for a sweater because it is good value. Don't get me wrong. The yarn, Debbie Bliss merino dk, is lovely and it was very good value (£1.95 a ball, 7 balls for the sweater) and I do like navy (see below). But it's not the most thrilling or easiest colour to knit with (it just about beats black), especially on a reasonably complicated textured pattern. This took a good six months from buying the yarn to stitching the last bit of seam which is an unusually long time, even for fickle (when it comes to projects) me. I started to feel guilty every time a project which wasn't the argyle sweater went from the "On my needles" to the "Finished Objects" list which is not a good state of affairs. This is one good reason for staying away from the John Lewis sale this holiday!

* I would knit it in the specified yarn weight (aran not dk) as it's a little bit see through (I can wear a dark shirt underneath), also the sleeves are still incredibly long although I only knit to 17" not 19" (as specified in the pattern). Anna Bell must just have very long arms.

The sweater which I have just started is Anya from Rowan 40.

It has a Fairisle pattern done in Kid Classic and Kidsilk Haze, mini cables worked into the rib at the cuffs and bottom edge and a funnel neck in moss stitch. This was a Christmas present from my parents.

I picked out the pattern and yarn with Mum at John Lewis in November so it wasn't a complete surprise but it's very lovely nonetheless. I spent most of the afternoon and evening today winding yarn onto cardboard bobbins, then threading beads onto the yarn and then knitting a gauge swatch in the fairisle pattern.

I need to knit another swatch today as I'm not on gauge. However, this gives me a chance to change some of the colours around. I'm knitting in shades of blue rather than grey and the shade of Kidsilk Night which I'm using is darker in relation to the other shades than its grey equivalent. You can only just see the pattern in the widest pattern band in the picture above - what, you can't see any pattern? I thnk I'll switch the blue Kidsilk Night with the cream Kidsilk haze in some portions of the pattern. Alas this entails a lot more bead threading.

There are so many beautiful patterns in Rowan 40 that it would easily pass the four pattern rule even if it hadn't been a present. I very much like Nakita a kidsilk haze embroidered sweater, the Anna Socks (knee length socks in Rowan 4-ply soft), Grantis a crocheted scarf, Lorelei an autumnal fairisle sweater, Cobweb a Kidsilk haze mini-cardigan, and Aelf a cardigan in Kid Classic. I will not be attempting to make the Arwen ballgown, but then neither has anyone else it would seem!


On Christmas eve and Christmas day I spun the final two tops which I bought from the Handweavers Studio stall at the Knitting and Stitching show in October. I hadn't tried this for a while and so the pink (which I spun first) is still pretty lumpy and bumpy in places. The cream went much better and is a pretty lacy laceweight I think.

I "set the twist" by winding the spun yarn into skeins, wetting it and then stretching it out with an ingenious contrivance made from two wooden coathangers and some 4 and 8 oz weights. This got rid of most of the tendency to spring back into a telephone cord like tangle and made it pretty knittable. I plied the pink yarn (again using the drop spindle) with some metallic gold thread to strengthen it and add a little sparkle.

I haven't decided yet whether or not to do the same for the cream. It worked quite well but it does make it very scratchy to knit with and (presumably) to wear.

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