Friday, February 23, 2018

Sweater Planning and January Start-Itis

It seems to happen to me every year after Christmas - after spending the previous few months making almost exclusively gifts for other people, I'm pretty stoked about getting to make whatever the heck I want, lol, which leads to me wanting to make all the things! This year was no exception, but my recent move back to my house complicated what I was able to commit to. I started out this year wanting to join the Seamless Set-In Sleeve Knit Along with Andi Satterlund, and I had a sweater planned for that, but the deadline was Valentine's Day so I wasn't sure I could get a sweater done in time. I always love Andi's KALs, but I'm glad I just accepted it wasn't going to happen and moved on.
I made my Little Giraffe just because I wanted to, then I started making the Ducks in a Row from Itty-Bitty Toys (seen above) just because I could. In desperation of needing something to knit at night after I moved, I even picked up one of my only remaining wips  - the Lady Russell Shawl (seen below). When I picked this shawl up, I had not started the lace chart yet but I couldn't really tell where I was on the pattern either. I was so frustrated with trying to figure it out that I just ripped out the whole thing and started over. It wasn't a big deal since it was the very beginning. I cast on again, got through the first section of the lace chart ... and realized I forgot to purl on the wrong side rows. Yeah. So I frogged it all out once again. Thankfully I had the hang of things after that and I managed to do several chart repeats before I changed projects. This project is super soft - I'm using lace weight cashmere yarn I reclaimed from a thrift store sweater. Delicious!
I buckled down and really started to narrow down some sweater options by about mid-January. I have quite the queue on Ravelry, some I admittedly don't have a desire to make right now, but many are lovely pieces I would like to wear. Now that I have made so many sweaters for myself (and live in such a warm place, thus not getting to wear my sweaters much), I wanted to be really particular about this project. I wanted it to be a bit complicated so it would take a decent amount of time (thus preventing me from making a zillion sweaters in quick succession) as well as practical. A worsted weight cropped wool sweater, while I think they look super cute, just won't get much wear. It's just too hot here plus the cropped length limits what it would look nice with. So if it was going to be wool, it would need to be a long sleeve "outerwear" type sweater, or a fingering weight pretty sweater at least waist length. After compiling a list of designs I liked that fit the bill, I started comparing the yarn requirements to what I had in my stash (because it was definitely going to be a stash sweater). After lots of thought, I was left with 2 main choices. Spoiler alert! I will be making both of these sweaters eventually, but one is already in the works.
First choice was the Recoleta cardigan by Joji Locatelli. This pattern is gorgeous with a wide lace collar and fancy lace back. This sweater is made in worsted weight, but it is definitely a sweater I could put on over most anything if I got chilly inside or out, also it has so much lace I feel it wouldn't  be too too warm. I also had already purchased yarn specifically for this project in November of 2015 (holy cow, lol). I snagged 6 skeins of Cascade Venezia Worsted in Van Dyke Brown from Craftsy - I think they weren't doing well with this color, so I got it for less than half price. This yarn is dreamy! It's 70% merino wool and 30% silk, giving it the smoothest feel as it knits. It also has a subtle shine from the silk, plus that dark brown is such a versatile neutral color.
Second choice was the Endearment cardigan by Hanna Maciejewska. I love the lace and cable combo on the fronts plus I love the little notches in the hem and sleeve cuffs. The lace actually looks like it is slanting side to side, but it is all an illusion caused by the knitting pattern. Very cool. Originally I didn't not know what I would make this sweater with, but after this whole examination project I freed up a yarn that was purchased for a different sweater after I swatched and didn't like the look. This is Araucania Huasco (sometimes called Botany Lace) in the Carmine colorway. I'm not one to go for variegated yarn, but I like the color combo of this one and the yarn itself is delicious - 100% merino wool and oh so smooth. This was another great deal that I snagged from Webs back in 2014 (whoa!), but I just never felt like any of my projects were the right one when I thought about this yarn. When I knitted a swatch, I was a bit concerned that this gave a "girly camo" effect, which I am not a fan of (ugh, the late 90s and bright colored camo - so bad). So I needed a pattern that wasn't mostly stockinette (at least not on the front). Enter the Endearment :) I deliberately swatched the lace chart to see how the yarn would look and it seems like the perfect combination. The lace and cables distract from the camo feel just enough, so even having a stockinette back and sleeves doesn't feel so over the top to me.
I spent a few hours one weekend swatching for these two sweaters only to have both swatches come out WAY too tight. Now I know I tend to knit tighter on a small object like a swatch, making my sweaters too big if I go up too much in needle size, but even after severe blocking they were both too small. I would need to knit the swatches again - ugh - more hours of work when I just wanted to get to making a sweater. One night I just made a quick decision to start the Recoleta simply because it would be quicker to redo the swatch, lol, and I have not looked back. Since this sweater is in larger yarn, I know it won't take too long to knit up, so the Endearment is still all together and waiting. I like having a fingering weight sweater on the needles - they are great projects to pick up between other makes. So I'm sure I will start that one sometime soon as well. In the meantime I am liking the challenge of multiple lace charts on the Recoleta. It can be a bit annoying to shuffle all the pages (the charts are large and somewhat small printed), but I remembered I had a metal magnet board designed for cross stitch chart reading. It's tedious to cover each completed row with a sticky note (on all of the charts for a given row), but the sticky notes combined with the magnet board have really helped. Once I got past the initial set up, things became much simpler to follow.
 This is where I'm at on the back - it's actually much farther along than I thought until I put it on my dress form for these pictures, lol. I just stared the waist decreases, so it's moving right along.
And this is the front view - it's a bit bunched up here because my needle is not as wide as my dress form, but it's the same lace pattern from the back on either side in a nice wide band.  It's looking very pretty and I'm enjoying knitting this pattern.

Even though I now have a toy, a sweater, another sweater lined up, and half a lace shawl already going, I still find myself wanting to start more projects! See - Start-itis! It's an illness, folks. In spite of not really getting to wear them all that much, I've been wanting to make another pair of socks. I have a new favorite pattern everyday, but I find myself wanting to blatantly copy these:
Photo borrowed from Shilao on Ravelry
Aren't these lovely? The really exciting thing is that I already have almost all of these yarns in my stash! Shilao (Ravelry name) used Knit Picks Felici in Jamboree (the purple and pink stripe) as well as Salt Water Taffy (the peach and lavender) for the main design with Cascade Heritage in Dark Plum for the heel, toe, and cuff. I already have Jamboree and Dark Plum, which I think will look lovely together even without the peach and light purple tones of the Salt Water Taffy. These were made with the Jaywalker pattern, a free one by Grumperina that I have always wanted to make. It's kind of the perfect combination :) So it's very likely that these will be cast on soon as well.

Does anyone else get this way at certain times of the year? I tend to get this way annually and I can't be the only one. Who knows how long it will take to actually finish all these items, but I'm enjoying the process on each one for now. Yay for knitting!

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