Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Kraken Sweater - Beginning

After 11 years of dabbling, I'm still a beginner knitter. Oh, I can knit a mean (basic) sock, and I can knit/purl a ribbed scarf with the best of 'em, but to me, advancing past "beginner" will entail knitting real SWEATERS.

Now, I've knit two sweaters, but they were both child-size and the same pattern, in the round with a 3-needle bind-off at the shoulders. No piecing, no seaming. I knit them from Reynold's Lopi, for a charity serving Russian orphans. They were simple, WARM, and bullet-proof.

But an adult sweater has not yet sprung full-born from my needles. I've started one, the Oatmeal Cardigan, in (appropriately) oatmeal bfl, handspun of course, but the staggering neutral yardage bored me to tears, and it languishes in a knitting bag somewhere.

Handspun handpainted - now THAT's the way to go, to keep my interest during both the spinning and the knitting. So I joined the SCF & Friends Sweater SAL/KAL (Rav-link) because I knew the wonderful members of the Southern Cross Fibre forum on Ravelry would encourage me and give the kick in the pants I'll need when the going gets tough.

I chose one of my very favorite Southern Cross Fibre colorways - Kraken - and one of my very favorite fibers - polwarth.

 (picture courtesy of David at SCF)

(Isn't it scrumptious???) I have enough fiber for half the sweater, and David (one of the best dyers on the PLANET) was happy to dye more. It's shipping today (from Australia). I'll wait until I have all the fiber together, so I can split it all up to combine the dyelots, for a nice blend throughout.

Since this is my first real sweater, I knew I'd need a simple pattern - the Bailey Cardigan (Rav) is great for handspun, and has good clean lines. My friend Sandi has already knit it and I was able to see (and feel!) it in person on our last Montana trip. I'll knit mine in fingering weight yarn rather than in DK, because I want it to be lightweight and useful for indoor wear.

And since I want the sweater to be wonderful and perfect, I knew I'd need to sample and swatch. (Yikes.) I did both. I spun samples of 2-ply, 3-ply, and navajo-ply:

(My camera washed out the colors - they're actually rich and vibrant like David's fiber photo above.)

I really like the 3 ply best, but needed to knit a swatch, not only for gauge, but for the look and feel of the fabric. So I knit my first ever swatch:

(top, n-ply; middle, 2-ply; bottom, 3-ply)

I love the look of the n-ply, but for socks, rather than for a sweater. I prefer the heathered transitions of the 2-ply and the 3-ply. In the end, I chose the 3-ply, because its fabric gave me the look and feel I liked best. It's so soft (yet durable) and pliable, and it drapes nicely.

I cannot wait to get started on this project! I'll keep you posted...


  1. Hurray, you've posted! I agree that nothing is more fascinating and interesting to work with than a beautiful colorway. From spinning to knitting, it's a treat for the eyes. Your sample is gorgeous!


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