Happy Saturday! I’m finishing up the last sleeve on Vodka Lemonade with a little help from a friend.
Cats Knit Sleeves
I am getting so much knitting help from the kittens. First this from Wingus:
And then more help from his brother Dingus:
Despite their ahem, attentions, which have caused me to weave in a few extra ends thanks to sharp kitten teeth, I've managed to pick up stitches and start both sleeves on Vodka Lemonade. It's slow going because I'm alternating skeins, but ever so worth it.
Here's hoping to a bit of progress over the long weekend. I'm really looking forward to wearing this one!
New Yarn: The Plucky Knitter’s Cachet
Cachet is The Plucky Knitter's brand new 100% cashmere yarn. Although it's listed at an aran weight, it knits up in the worsted range for me, with 18 stitches/26 rows to four inches on size 6 needles.
It knits up like a dream: a soft cloud of stockinette. And, the gauge is perfect for some of the patterns in my queue I'm longing to knit the most, including Carol Feller's Portulaca, Thea Coleman's new sweater, Rye, and Mailin and Monte Rosa, both by Isabel Kraemer . Decisions, decisions.
I'm also going to swatch this yarn a couple of needle sizes down to see what the fabric looks like. Originally, I planned to knit Alana Dakos Cabled Leaf Pullover in this yarn. Since its gauge is 20 stitches/26 rows, it seems like that might be doable.
I know it's obvious, after years and years of being a polyamorous knitter who carried a torch for a lot of different brands of yarn, when I discovered Plucky last year, I fell deeply in love with the wonderful custom spun, hand-dyed yarns they produce. All of the yarns I've used so far, from Snug Bulky, to Bello Worsted, to Cashmere Sport, to Primo Aran, to Crew, to Scholar, have made me really happy. Each new project makes me think I've found my favorite yarn of all time. And truly, they are all my favorites. I adore this yarn, and the new heavy weight Cachet cashmere is like knitting with a dream. If you haven't discovered Plucky yet, it's worth the effort. Although the yarn is sold in an unusual fashion, there is lots of advice for newbies here and a very nice group of helpful knitters on the Ravelry group. You'll be glad you took the time to figure it out!
No, it's not an alien mutant or a sweater for a small elf in Santa's workshop. It's the adolescent phase of my Vodka Lemonade. It looks a bit wonky, with the collar unblocked, the sleeves partially done for later pick up, and only a couple of inches worked on the body. But it's P-R-O-G-R-E-S-S and I'm really happy with it. I'm hoping that it will blossom as I get a bit more work done and become the sweater of my dreams.
On the plus side, this color, The Plucky Knitter's Fiona on Crew, is everything I could have hoped for!
My decision to alternate two skeins was a good one. The yarn has just enough variation that not alternating would have been an issue. I think it might have been even better with three skeins in the rotation. It has been relatively easy to get a nice, clean, edge, carefully bringing the alternating skeins up the side of the project. And the color looks lovely knit up like this!
Knitting A Sweater
Sweaters have always been a knitting nemesis for me, so let's just get it right out there. I'm not a math geek. It took me a long time to appreciate both stitch and row gauge. I have a lot of bloopers in my knitting past (I'm thinking about you pint-sized Agnes that was meant for me and you Little Red, that looks to be turning out even smaller), although I've also had some successes. Those were mostly despite myself or on baby sweaters.
So now we have Vodka Lemonade, the first of my post-self awareness about gauge sweaters. Isn't it pretty? That's the Plucky Knitter's Crew, a cotton and merino blend that feels great to knit with and that I'm convinced will be light enough for spring in Alabama. I've also become convinced that the color is a neutral, or at least it is for me since my wardrobe is mostly black and gray.
But, the question is going to be fit.
Here are the start of the raglan increases. The pattern suggests about 30 of them in my size, and yes, I am good on gauge so far. But since this is top down, I'm going to try to take advantage of the opportunity to try on, to measure me, measure the knitting, measure other sweaters that I like the fit of, and NAIL this one. Or at least end up with a sweater that fits.
I am not a fast knitter at the best of times (plus the kids do seem to like having dinner on the table at night) and this yarn is a light dk weight. So this sweater is, in some ways, going agonizingly slowly for me. At the same time, it's a very pleasurable knit once you establish the rhythm of the border edges and the increase stitches on either side of the sleeves. And I am apparently a freak of nature because I enjoy knitting seed stitch. So I'm not in any hurry to finish, although I do want to wear the sweater this spring/summer.
I'll share my progress on this one with you over the next few weeks, although I plan to knit it along with Drachenfels, so expect slow but sure progress. And please keep me in your thoughts on the issues of gauge and fit. I'm going to need all the support I can get!
Works in Progress
The week I go back to work after the holidays is always a bad week for knitting (as much as it is good to be back with good friends and getting the job done). I manage to get in a bit of knitting when I wake up and a bit at night, so this week wasn't a total knitting loss. But progress was slow.
Thea Coleman's Vodka Lemonade pattern is my most challenging project at the moment. It's a sweater pattern knit in The Plucky Knitter's delicious Crew yarn, a merino/cotton blend. That is the collar that you see above. It's knit in seed stitch. I'm in the decided minority of knitters who enjoy knitting it. It's slow going and time consuming, but it's very pretty. At this rate, it will take me quite some time to finish the collar before I get on with the body of the sweater, but I don't mind at all.
Paddle Mitts are a Tin Can Knits pattern. Like the other patterns I've knit from this designer, the pattern is straightforward and the finished item is utilitarian. And I have managed to create a small disaster with what should have been a simple project. I decided to use my favorite skein of yarn, this beautiful skein of Plucky Scholar, which is a worsted weight blend of cashmere and merino in a rustic spin.
That would have been just dandy, had I seriously contemplated the fact that Scholar was a bit heavier than the yarn the pattern was written for and sized down, but no, I did not. That was okay in the body of the hand, where the ribbing made it work. But there was drama with the thumb and I overcompensated with rapid decreases after picking up the stitches for it. I've pulled that all out and am starting over for a thumb that works with the rest of the mitts. This will go into the man-sized pile for gift giving, darn it. I hope I have enough yarn to do a second pair for myself.
When The Plucky Knitter introduced her first collection of patterns, All Bundled Up, last weekend, I enjoyed looking them over and admired several enough to add to my Ravelry queue of patterns to knit this year. I even contemplated buying yarn for one of the sweaters in the near future. But then it hit. The Sugarloaf Infinity Scarf pattern was so tempting. It was written for my favorite yarn, Snug, and it just so happened I had the perfect colorways for it in my stash. So on my needles it went, and it's unusual little rib was an enjoyable knit while we watched a move on TV last night (The Life Acquatic with Steve Zissou, which you should watch if you haven't seen it and like slightly snarky, self-indulgent humor).
I have plans this weekend to work on my Olivia wrap, and I wanted to get in more work on Vodka Lemonade's collar, but I'm afraid Sugarloaf has captivated me, and may end up as the attention-getter in whatever time I have this weekend. Fortunately, it's cold outside and there is a lot of appeal to sitting inside where it is warm and this is hot tea and I can knit.