Tuesday, January 20, 2009

four false starts and Owls takeoff ... finally

Today, I've spun the last few skeins of gotland so that means there is enough for a sweater, and I've done swatching and cast on proper for Owls. But being me its not so simple ... and I had to share these little guys ... my Owls. I collected these some 15 years ago, mostly around central Otago, some local artist seemed to have them on sale in many places, and they appealed. Still do.

Spinning, this is what 500g of dark grey Gotland looks like spun up. 8 skeins, no idea what meterage I have, but I know that I didn't loose much as I spun this up. The prep was lovely. I have no plans yet, but 500g should get me a kids sweater or a working shawl that ties behind me, elbow length. I had intended to spin this finer, but it just wanted to be thicker, so its probably sport weight. I spun it all onto bobbins then plied it all at once, the theory is that you can ply the thin bobbins with the thicker ones and get more consistent yarn, not sure if thats how it worked for me this time, but it was a nice process to see the 8 bobbins full. Now what to spin next?

And swatching, I continued with the Owl swatch, in the round, and worked a second owl, who stayed and remained visible after the swatch was blocked. I cast on 40 stitches on 3.5mm needles and 2.2 ribbed for a bit, threw some cables into the rib, switched to 4mm needles, worked a bit more, threw in an Owl from the chart, worked a bit more plain, worked a bit in moss stitch before casting off. And look I ended up with a mitt! I think I need to knit me another one so I have a pair. I usually swatch in the round, but have never had a size that worked as a mitt before. All I need is to weave in the ends, evening up the cast off jog, and knit a mate. I added the cables because while 2.2 rib works in chunky yarn, in a finer weight I think that it can carry a little more interest, I think they compliment the cables used to create the owls nicely.

Which meant that I had enough info to begin my Owls sweater proper, knitting on 3.25mm and 4mm needles. I have stitches per inch, not 3.5, and in doing the maths I realised that Owls is designed with negative ease. Try it , multiply the guage by the inches and you get more than you are told to cast on by at least and inch or two. That means its made to be smaller than the body it fits - which is cool for some, but I like a little more ease in my knitwear, so I'm making mine body sized, with a bit more ease at the waist / hip to let me wear jeans and a belt. I found out the usual way that knits over belts make for lumpy looks. I'm using a variation of a long tail cast on, where you reverse the wrap around the thumb every second stitch. This is a good match for 2.2 rib, as the stitches end up grouped in pairs, see?

So last night I did my math, worked out I needed 182 stitches, which allows for a 3 stitch steek, and 22 repeats of K2 P2 C2 P2, with an additional K2 at the end ... and I cast on, and counted, and checked. And knit the first row with the increased for the cables ... and got the the 180 something stitch and was out by 5, so I cast on again, and checked again, and double checked,
and knit and cabled and got to the end of the round and was out again, by a different number of stitches. Argh!
So I cast on with markers every 8 stitches, and added the extra stitches for the last rib and the steek, and worked 5 rows, including 2 cable rows ... and stopped to admire my work before trotting of to bed ....

and realised that a knitter like me needed the cables to be symmetrical about the steek. So I frogged again. Count at that stage 732 stitches cast on, 66 cables created, all frogged and back on the ball of yarn with nothing on the needles.

This morning was a different story, the sun shone, I had spinning to go to, I had K's yummy muesli for breakfast, I dressed in 'My dog ate my lace knitting tee shirt', (my friend N is planning to sell these on line - I will let you know when her site is live), sat down, took a deep breath, and cast on for a fifth and final time, very carefully with stitch markers, and a large marker where I switch from left to right cables to right to left cables, and much checking and counting as I worked ... and its all looking good. My cables are symmetrical, my stitch count is good, my ribs are all in the right place, I didn't put a twist in my circular join ... so I'm happy.

I know I'm being a total groupie about the Owls, but I'm not the only one ... and its a cute sweater.
na Stella


Knitting Linguist said...

Cast on experiences like that are always frustrating, but it's such a great sweater that making it perfect is worth a little extra knitting ;) (easy for me to say, right?). I love the accidental mitt, too! You're definitely going to have to make a pair.

Walden said...

Too bad there's so much frustration so far, but all that hard work and planning with pay off in the end!

Shirley Goodwin said...

I used to collect owls, Stell, and I have some of the very same as the ones in your photo.