Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Things have been awfully busy lately. Work has been pressing, and even my weekends have been spent thinking about it. This is something I do not normally encourage. If it weren't for a couple of chances to wear my new Crossed Laces tank with a natty blazer and collect a few compliments, I don't know what I'd have done for fun.

So life has been hurly- burly. One is only human, though, after all. Somehow I managed to get a chance to do some swatching with my hand-spun Stormwatch yarn.

It too might be called burly. Not hurly, though. That would just be unkind.

Burly, in fact, is quite a nice old-fashioned word. I seem to remember that, once, men who might now be referred to prosaically as overweight would instead have been called burly. (I don't think it was ever applied to women; it has such a doughty masculine air.) Stout or husky might have been in the rotation as well.

But the Stormwatch yarn, more precisely, has turned out to be bulky. By eye, I had thought perhaps worsted-weight, but my eye clearly needs more training. This yarn knits into a nice pliable fabric on US size 11 needles but cardboard on US size 9s. At a bulky gauge, it's husky, bumpy, and pleasantly not-quite-scratchy. And, by the way, I've figured out how to control the light balance on my camera, so the color in the picture is pretty close to reality.

As the weather freshens, the heavy hot air of summer has lifted, the days are shortening, and the nights are cooling, this yarn seems quite the thing. The sap is beginning to run through me, demanding that I knit hearty cold-weather sweaters. I don't know if sap runs in the fall, but if it rises in the spring, then surely it must have to migrate somewhere else for the winter.

So I've sketched out plans for a big enveloping rustic cardigan, with saddle shoulders and a wee bit of texture. I don't want a stitch pattern that would bury that hand-spun nubbiness or be swallowed up in return. But on the other hand, pure stockinette, with its insinuation of sleek, even smoothness, doesn't seem quite right either. I experimented with a number of ideas, eventually growing a very large swatch, until I had something I thought might work.

I'm motoring up the back of the sweater now, with about 5 inches of length to go. The knitting is fun and going quickly, but the worries are starting to jostle in the back of my mind. I'm not too picky about fit on this one, but I don't know if I will have enough yarn. If I run out, there will be no more. Not only is this hand-spun, but it was a rescue exercise, making a usable yarn "with character," from some near-disastrous roving. So I will work with what I have, and alter the project, if necessary, to suit.

It seems like I'm burning through the skeins of hand-spun at an awfully lively clip. I'm pretty sure I'm on skein number five (of 17) already, even before finishing the back. But being hand-spun, they're all different sizes, and I think I'm subconsciously grabbing the smaller ones first.

So here's my plan. I've estimated that, in square inches of fabric, the back of the swebater is about 2/7 of the whole thing, front, back, and sleeves. (And of course, to keep it simple, I'm ignoring niceties such as the yarn need for button- and neck-bands.) When I get the back finished and cast off, I will weigh it. Then I'll calculate ratios to see if it looks like the rest can be done with the yarn remaining.

I don't know. It may be touch and go. I spun a pound and a half of this yarn. My Cannonball sweater weighs only about a pound, but it's not bulky. My Comfy Winter Turtleneck came in at a whopping two pounds, but it's bulky Cashmerino, which weighs a ton.

If it looks like I'm not going to make it, I will have to drop back and regroup. With a change of armhole, it could become a vest rather than a sweater, I suppose. But my mental image is firmly fixed, and it's not the mental image of a vest.

So I'll just plunge on ahead and worry. Well. For every sweater a gray hair.

1 comment:

Bess said...

I'm always surprised at how much bigger than it looks my handspun is. I always have to knit on larger needles than I thought I would.

Crossing my fingers that your yarn will last to fit the whole sweater - but if it doesn't - nubby grey handspun would make beautiful stripes on sleeves and front, don't you think?

Beautiful stormy snuggly yarn.