Monday, February 12, 2007

Still fighting

Yesterday, I found myself off and alone. After running down to the Whole Foods and fetching a couple of bags of groceries, I was faced with a long afternoon or complete and utter nothing. Oh, what's a girl to do?

I should have sat in my room and made some birthday cards, but instead I pulled out my Malabrigo sweater made last year. It's the Pearl colorway--cloudy greys with soft pinks. Here's a progress shot from last year:

I've tried wearing this sweater this winter, but each time I put it on, I'm reminded that I need to frog it: it's too big! I shouldn't be surprised, for two reasons--one, I've lost weight (holding steady at 40lbs), and two, I designed this sweater using elements from Banff. Anybody that's not been following along, here's what my first attempt at Banff (made with Bernat Softee...) looked like:

I only ever half-finished the seaming on that monstrous mistake before I left the yarn to sit ignored for as long as it took for me to forget about this sweater (for those keeping count, the picture's from April 2004. The yarn is still not being used.). BUT, I was in LOVE with the idea of the pattern--a slouchy, comfy, weekend-ish turtleneck. I had fantasies of making the pattern and then sipping hot cocoa at some coffee shop, posed ala Jenna Wilson.

When I finally felt as though I'd cut my knitting teeth, I decided to make my own pattern, drawing on aspects of other patterns and sweaters in my closet. I wanted something with ribbing, like Banff, but I wanted a v-neck. I wanted to include bust shaping (ahem...), but I also wanted slight waist shaping. I swatched using Christmas yarn (the Malabrigo Pearl). I ultimately went with the yarn doubled because I wanted a quicker knit--I started the sweater sometime around February 10, 2006, and finished it in a couple of weeks (all save for seaming). The sweater was knit with a fair amount of ease to begin with (see: slouchiness desired), and I was rather content to sport my own knitwear at work and at home.

But, as with anything I make, I was instantly critical: the ribbing wasn't tight enough, the fabric knit too loosely, the edges too unfinished, the seams too bulky. By April, I was 20lbs lighter and I knew that the sweater would likely have to be frogged; still, I stored it for the winter and hoped for some sort of magic wherein I not regain the weight but yet, the sweater somehow one day fits.

Yesterday, I flirted with the idea of felting the sweater (yes, it's THAT big), but then restrained myself. I like this yarn too much to somehow accidentally screw it up, and I knew that felting the sweater would likely leave me with $77 worth of fucked up yarn. Don't know about you all, but that's just not cool in the Book of Squirrel. So, instead, I found myself carefully unseaming this sweater, and then slowly frogging it. I got through the sleeve, a front, and part of the back before I had to go to bed.

I weighed the sweater before starting so that I could get a rough idea of yardage; I started with 23 ounces. That's roughly 6.5 skeins by my calculations (not that my calculations are in any way necessarily correct); each skein 3.5 ounces, and roughly 215 yds per skein. So, even though I already know I have WAY MORE THAN ENOUGH yarn to fashion another hand knit sweater, it's still good to have some numbers.

Some of the things I'm going to do differently once I reclaim all this yarn (I'm frogging, balling, skeining, and then thwacking, before drying, balling and then knitting) are:

  • tighter gauge - Malabrigo relaxes a great deal once washed and worn. What measured as a perfect fit freshly knit grew tremendously over just a few wearings.
  • top-down - I suffer from a specific type of knitting impatience: I nearly always break for the armholes on sweater entirely too soon, leaving me with sweaters that are *just* too short. Knitting top-down will allow me a better chance to make the damn thing long enough.
  • raglan and turtleneck - this really goes with the second point, but I'm separating it out for different reasons. I've yet to successfully make a turtleneck! My first sweater was designed to be a turtleneck, but I was terrible at neatly picking up and knitting stitches, so that sweater became a scoopneck (it's also in the to-be-frogged pile). The raglan sleeves will contribute to the weekend-wearability of this sweater.
  • edging/hem details - double-stranded, this sweater will be a bulky knit. Still, I'd like to do something interesting at the end of the sleeves/hem. Not sure what, though, which is another good reason to go top-down, right?
  • circular - this is sort of redundant, since the top-down raglan can be knit in one piece. However, I most definitely do not want any more seams than necessay on this sweater! Bulky knit seams are a bitch, no matter how neat your mattress stitch.

I think that's it, really, for the Malabrigo.

In other knitting news, Jaywalker sock the first, attempt number 5 has been successful. I'm down to about 10/50 grams of Soxie, so I'm 80% done! I made sure to take note of any pattern modifications so that when I get around to knitting up JW S1A5, I can knit as perfect a mate as possible. *PHEW* I think the final modification I'm going to make to this pattern is instead of knitting an inch of ribbing at the cuff, I'll knit the pattern in garter stitch, sort of reminscent of Broadripple.

Updated and more recent pictures soon--I'm getting ready to go Pro with Flickr, so I expect to be going on a digital photo-organizing spree.

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