Friday, April 27, 2007

Second Heartbeat

No, this is not a reference to twins. It is my second Heartbeat Sweater. I enjoyed knitting the first one so much that I immediately started a second. The first one was a solid green, and I thought it would be interesting to do it in a variegated yarn as shown in the pattern photo.

The yarn was a real bargain from Smiley's Yarns for $1.50 per 50g skein. There was a lot of waste because of the scant yardage per skein (80 yds), and a lot of ends to weave in (ugh). It took 13 skeins, but the total weight of the finished sweater is only 550 g, which sounds like it should have been 11 skeins. And it is heavy – 550 g is nearly 1.25 pounds – I can only imagine how much it weighs wet! But it has a very nice feel and an interesting texture.

I do like the way the variations in the yarn emphasize the truncated diamond shape of the pattern.

Pattern: Heartbeat Sweater by Jill Vosburg, Just One More Row
Yarn: Filatura Lanarota Circus (85% cotton, 15% Acrylic)
Needles: Denise Size 5
Gauge: ~ 4 sts/inch
Yardage: approx. 1000 yds for 48" size
Modifications: unintentional slight contrast on sleeve edges, since I grabbed the wrong skein of yarn on the first sleeve and it didn't look bad, so I used the same skein for the second sleeve instead of frogging. It became a "design element." I thought about using the same yarn on the neck edging but chickened out.

Having knit this sweater twice, I am still mystified by the geometry. It is an ingenious design, and somehow it all works out to be the right shape for a sweater, thought there were times when I had my doubts.

And, speaking of doubts, here is the Garden Shawl from Fiddlesticks in its "amorphous blob" state. This is a scary time in the life of a lace knitter, when a huge amount of time has been invested and it isn't at all clear that the object of all this effort will look like anything but a lump when it is finished. And it isn't clear that it will ever be finished because the edging (knit perpendicular to the edge of the shawl) goes on and on and on...

Yesterday I had an odd Knitting in Public experience. On a whim I had decided to go to the Johnson & Johnson annual shareholders' meeting, something I had never done before. Since I had been warned to get there early to be sure to get a seat in the main ballroom and not have to listen to sound piped into one of several overflow rooms, I had stuck a pair of socks-in-progress in my pocketbook. I was happily knitting when an elderly gentleman sat down next to me and asked if he could put in an order for a pair. He turned out to be a retired J&J engineer who had worked in the division that made tampons (in the days when things were actually manufactured in NJ). Occasionally they had to reject spools of the extremely strong reinforced cotton string they used, and employees could take them home, so he gave some to his mother to use around the house. A few years later she showed him a tablecloth she had crocheted... from the rejected tampon string! He says he still has the tablecloth and chuckles whenever he looks at it.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Punishment and Reward

I must have committed some terrible knitting sin in the past to have earned the ordeal of knitting the Cotton Chenille Baby Sweater. In fact, it was so awful to knit with this yarn (Crystal Palace Cotton Chenille) that it took months to finish. Because of the texture of the yarn (thick and unstretchy) and the fact that I had to use size US #2 needles to get a decent fabric (despite the fact that the pattern called for #6 needles with this exact yarn), my hands would ache after knitting just a few rows, and it was hard to work up the energy to pick it up again. I finally realized that if I didn't finish it soon, the Baby in Question will have outgrown it, if she hasn't already! So here it is, not exactly as it was supposed to be, but at least finished:

It was much too hard to do the bobbles in the multicolored trim with the #2 needles, so I just did plain garter stitch. I hope the baby and (more important) her mother like it.

Note: if you are wondering why I used #2 needles, check out my blog entry on swatching for this sweater.

Immediately after finishing this sweater I cast on for a sweater for the soon-to-be new baby in the family. The Cascade Pima Tencel I used for this sweater was a total delight. My reward for suffering through the "chenille ordeal"??? It took only days to finish the sweater (based loosely on a pattern in The Yarn Girls' Guide to Kid Knits) and the hat (generic baby hat, no known pattern):

The hat was an afterthought, since there was a little of each ball of yarn left and it would be a shame to let it go to waste. The color combination is admittedly a little weird for a newborn, so I hope my daughter-in-law likes it. At least it was fun to knit!