Tuesday, February 24, 2009

You won't believe what I did....

I frogged the yoke back to just above the Owls, yes I did. It was looking like this ....

and on the front, the same, nearly finished with only a steek and and front bands to go, with or without the cat. Yo-yo again thinking its all about her.

Something bothered me, and it took a discussion back and forth with a knit-sib online to come to the conclusion that it was a nice yoke - but it was not the yoke for me. The yoke didn't fit my shoulders as well as it could .. and it felt ... well cluttered.
Less is more, look in the mirror and take one thing away, simplicity, clean, uncluttered, lean, balanced
these are all words I bear in mind when I design, and this yoke bothered me - some, a little, ok a whole lot. And yeah - I get the irony of knitting a sweater with 24 little Owls around the yoke all with a pair of tiny black eyes ... that is 48 little black button eyes, and saying I want pared down and uncluttered. I get the conflict there, even after adding cables to the cuffs and hem - a knitter can dream can't they, of uncluttered and clean design? I suspect what I realised was, amongst other things the clutter of the cabled rib around the neck threatened to overwelm the Owls, and it was always meant to be all about the Owls. If I could have knit the sweater in the heavy gauge of Kates original, which would be way too thick and warm for me, then I'd just have knit Kates design as is (maybe with a little more evenly distributed shaping). But I wanted finer yarn, and so had to regauge - which is essentially the same as working it out from scratch ... and things change when you do that.

So without a real firm plan, I frogged, hooked the end of the yarn up to the ball winder and wound off yarn until only the Owls were left. Surprisingly liberating really, and quick.

Then I put all those little 4mm loops back on a needle and knit back up. I had a bit more of a plan, you see although I liked the idea of the neckline ribbing matching the hem and cuff ribbing - that was the thing making it look cluttered. So I planned a plain stocking stitch yoke, raised a little at the back and fitted with invisible decreases. I tried a centered 3 into 2 decrease, and it worked, so I alternated short rows across the back and shoulders with decrease rounds until the stitch count was about 60% of the K for this cardigan. K is my knit guru's (Elizabeth Zimmerman) key number for a sweater, its the number of stitches to fit the bust/chest. She suggest that the ideal number of stitches to fit the neck is 40% of K,and maybe up to 50% for a child, but I like 60%. 60% produces a lower neckline, 40% is quite a high fitted neck line. The invisible centered decreases I used, show up barely as a slip stitch, and is far less noticeable than any other decrease I've found so far, and in this tweedy yarn the decreases almost vanishes. I worked it like this:
  • slip 2 together as if to knit, replace both these two back onto the left hand needle, knit 3 together thru the back of the loop.

Then I cast off across the 3 stitch steek, and put the live neck stitches on a cable with ends caps. I had to make a trip to a LYS to find steek stitching yarn, but there was none to be had that was fine enough and of the right shade of grey. I had at least 3 fine grey yarns at home but all were too dark, too brown or too light. I eventually found some Anchor embroidery wool that was much the same thickness as the two ply yarn I was knitting with, but was four ply so I could split it into a finer 2 ply yarn to stitch with. So that is what I did.

I stitched the steek, removing my center front basting as I worked. I'd added that a few days ago just to check I still had my steek marker in the right place when I positioned my Owls. First I whipped the center stitch to its neighbor all the way to the top on the left side ....

And then I worked the other side of the steek stitches, whip stitching the right side in place.
Now its washed/blocked and it drying with a little help from an Oil filled radiator. Just as well for this cold damp weather - I feel totally justified with having a heater on in the family room. My latest plan is to knit the neck band and the front bands at the same time, and in a plainer 2.2 rib, not the fancy-s'mancy cabled rib of the cuffs and hem. I'm gonna cut it when its dry .. .and hope bear is there with the camera.

and on the side ... well I've been playing with a sock for Toby, from ... well I was going to say boring (but its not really boring), and plain(but its not plain) - maybe its regular Regia sock yarn.
Toe up, with a start inspired by Anna Zilboorgs Magnificent mittens cast on. I've turned the toe around so the continuious knit band runs up the middle of the instep, and I'm thinking of instep gusset increase and a widening linen stitch panel .... what do you think? I trace of the feet of people I knit socks for, and use them as a size chart as I knit.

and soap - some one anonymous asked me to share the recipe, well I used the online soapcalculator. For the sweet orange and bergamot soap I used 76% olive oil, 13% sweet almond oil, and 11% hard coconut oil with about 15-20mls each of the two essential oils. I am generous with the essential oils, there is nothing like washing your hands or taking a shower and beautiful scent escaping from the soap - a real luxury feeling. The second was made with 50% rice bran oil, 30% olive oil, and 20% solid coconut oil, with 1/4 cup cocoa, and the innards of a vanilla bean (do the innards of a vanilla bean have a name?) added at trace. It was intended to be a chocolate soap - but appears with the addition of vanilla to be more of a chocolate-cake soap. I used a standard cold process method for both soaps - there are lots of tutorials on line for that. Now both soaps need to dry in the open, for a month or so, and then cure in the hall cupboard for a few months to make them last when we finally put them to use (although we are making use of the scraps from trimming them to size and shape - and they are very very nice).

And the good news, while I've blogged the sweater has been over the heater, and now the sweater feels dry, o-I know it is not yet totally dry, it can't be yet, but nearly ... and will be dry tomorrow ....
next time ... let the steeking begin.



Knitting Linguist said...

Wow. That was a serious rework, but it sounds like the results will be much more what you are looking for in a sweater. I can't wait to see the steeking! T's socks look great -- that's some fun yarn :)

KathyR said...

Ah, it seems you were in the frogpond before me. I hope you left the water nice and warm!

Your owl cardigan is bound to be all the better for your dip in the pond and your soap sounds (smells too, I'm sure) divine.