Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My gauge swatch lied to me

It is not often that I actually use the recommended yarn for a pattern. Usually this is for one of three reasons: because I am trying to use up stash yarn, because I think the recommended yarn was not a great fit for the pattern (for example, I much prefer the malabrigo worsted that I chose to knit my wisteria to the pattern choice - probably because of my deep aversion to all of the "flashing" that is going on in the sample), or because I just cannot bring myself to use the yarn selected by the magazine. A good example of this is the gorgeous cabled hoodie in this falls's Vogue Knitting, which is knit in Lion Brand. Perhaps Lion Brand has changed since the last time I saw its wares (admittedly this was a couple of years ago) but I have absolutely no desire to knit with what I have seen.

That said, this weekend I finished Wisteria and cast on for a new sweater in the recommended yarn. (Brief aside - I only have a couple very bad pictures of the finished sweater so the reveal will have to wait until I can get out in the sun with a camera). Before heading off for Rhinebeck a couple of weeks ago, I was down at My Sister's Knits, where Carol had just received a shipment of Shibui yarns. I had a chance to see these yarns for the first time at TNNA back in June and have been eagerly awaiting this shipment ever since.

I knew when I walked into the shop that I wanted to knit Victoria, a beautiful cardigan with some lovely refined detailing, in the recommended yarn: Shubui Knits Merino Kid. After much debate, I came away with a gorgeous deep purple (I think the actual color name is "Mulberry") and as soon as Wisteria was finished, I cast on. I even knit a swatch. I got 6 stitches to the inch on size six needles (4.0mm) and promptly switched to size 7. I knit a second swatch. 5 stitches to the inch was attained and I cast on for the back.

Two hours later when I sat down to knit some more after dinner I was looking at the patterned section, whose gauge was supposed to be ever so slightly tighter than the stockinette gauge, and thought it looked suspiciously like 4 stitches to the inch. Not one to be distracted from working with a lovely yarn, I told myself not to be ridiculous and kept on knitting. A few rows later, the fabric was starting to have a bit more drape than I really wanted so I convinced myself it was time to check with the ruler.

I was getting 5 stitches to the inch all right, but not in the patterned section. The little stockinette bit at the bottom for the finished hem came in at 5 stitches to the inch on the size 6 needles that I had used. I have no idea how my tension changed so much - perhaps I relax a bit when I am reading from a casebook as opposed to watching football while I knit.

Whatever happened, here is version 2 of Victoria. Isn't the yarn stunning?

Now, because this post has been sorely lacking in pictures, I'll leave you with shots of what tempted me so at the Briar Rose booth at Rhinebeck.

First, the sweaters (to be).

Legend - 1300 yards of dk weight merino in reds and burgundy (I keep thinking cranberry)

Charity - 900 yards of aran weight corriedale in greens and browns

Two skeins of Grandma's Blessing, a sportweight superwash merino sock yarn, for husband socks.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fall Colors

This weekend I took a break from my normal life and headed off to Rhinebeck. I have learned two tricks to keeping the stash acquisition under control:

1. Pick up a sweater's worth of new yarn the night before you leave for a sheep and wool festival.

Ok, I admit that this one is a bit tough to do, especially when trying to stick to a budget. That said, it is a delightful plus when you knit for a yarn shop. On Thursday I handed in a sweater from the new Debbie Bliss magazine (Ravelry link) and picked up some new yarn in return.

(modeled by Erica, the lovely Alpaca with a Twist rep who was visiting on Thursday)

The yarn? Seven skeins of Shibui merino-kid in a gorgeous purple, destined to become this. It certainly helped to take the edge off when I got to Rhinebeck.

2. Figure out a budget (I ask my husband to pick a number and that is what I stick to) and bring it in cash. Do not allow yourself access to a credit card. I learned this lesson at the Midwest Fiber and Folk Festival this past July. No matter how good your intentions may be, as soon as you bring the credit card out your budget goes out the window.

My sister discovered this phenomenon over the weekend. To be fair, it was her first fiber festival and we all know how that can affect one's good intentions.

What, you may be asking, does my post title have to do with my latest ramblings? The beautiful scenery of the bed and breakfast where we stayed this weekend.

The trees just do not look like this in Chicago.

By the time I decided that I could take the weekend to go to Rhinebeck, most of the rooms in the immediate vicinity of the festival were already booked (mind you, this was in June) so I broadened my search a bit and found Brookfield Farm, a lovely B & B about 40 minutes away from the fairgrounds.

These were the delightful pets on the farm:

It was a lovely weekend.

But wait, what about the yarn? What did I buy? My adventures at the Briar Rose booth will have to wait until later.