Sunday, March 22, 2009

One step forward, two steps backwards

Remember the driving cap I knitted for ToolMan? And how I was going to re-write the pattern? I had knit sibs at Westside Wednesday volunteer to test knit for me, and a couple of family members said they'd like to have one (one even called to give his head measurement), so I had no lack of victims models on which to try different sizes. All I had to do was write the pattern.

Since I want to eventually publish this pattern, I wanted to use a mass-produced yarn available at a "Big Box" craft store. ToolMan went with me, reluctantly, because I wanted a male opinion on color and texture. (FYI - It's not a good idea to take someone who's color blind with you to shop for yarn; go ahead, ask me how I know that.) I immediately ruled out anything not 100% wool, which pretty much limited the choices to either Lion Brand or Patons. Given the choices at this particular Big Box, I bought a skein of Patons Classic Wool in "cognac heather" with which to knit the prototype which would eventually go to the BIL who phoned in his measurement.

I swatched, measured, frogged, changed needle size, re-swatched, and remeasured, ad infinitum, until I got a fairly dense fabric that would hold it's shape without needing a lot of interfacing. Then, I cast on and started knitting the top of the cap; all the while taking careful notes and measurements, and marking important places with stitch markers. When the top was done, I started knitting the side piece - the one that goes around the head. When I had knitted approximately 1/3 of the side piece, I looked at the ball of yarn left and realized I as going to run seriously short.

Back to the Big Box for more yarn. Sure, they'll have it, it's only been a week, right? Wrong. The bin for this color is not only empty; it has ANOTHER COLOR listed on the tag. Crap. Of to another branch of Big Box, where I find the same thing. What's that saying about the definition of insanity?

I seriously started to buy two more balls of Patons in another color and start all over before ToolMan shoved this under my nose.

It fits the bill perfectly: 100% wool, tweed, fairly stiff feel, twice as much yardage a skein of Patons, less expensive than Patons, plus it's lanolinized to withstand the damp. I'll frog out the Patons and stash it for use later and start all over on the hat. Stay tuned to find out if I can get the same gauge or if I have to redo all the math.

Since the driving cap project requires so much note taking and measuring, it's really not a project suitable for commuting. I've been on a real run of the small scarf/cowl/shawls lately, which incidentally has been great for stash busting. A few weeks ago someone at Westside Wednesday was de-stashing and I acquired a single skein of fingering weight yarn from The Unique Sheep in a colorway called "Precious Metals." I have a weakness for single skeins; somehow, I think they all need to come live at my house. I like Faroese style shawls because they stay on so well because of the shaping, but they usually start at the bottom and work up - not really the best plan when you only have one skein. And my luck getting a second skein to finish a project wasn't proving to be all that great. Instead, I cast on for a Reading Shawl from Sheep Geek.

This really isn't as yellow as it looks in the picture; the camera didn't really pick up the silver, gray, and pale greens in this yarn. I don't usually wear yellow, but this looks so spring-like and sun-shiny that I just couldn't resist it.

I also started spinning the second bobbin of a 50/50 merino/silk roving that I bought from Lisa Souza at OFFF last fall. It's so soft and pretty that I want to get every inch possible out of it, so I'm spinning it very thin and aiming for a laceweight 2-ply when I'm done.

No, it's not white; there really is some color there. See:

It's a colorway called "Mother of Pearl", which is exactly what it looks like both in the roving and on the bobbin. I can hardly wait until it's done!


  1. Yup, patterns don't just happen; they take a lot of swatching and angst! But the new wool looks like it might be an even better choice, so maybe it was meant.

    Knit on!

  2. What a pain with the big box store. You are not the first person I know of that had problems finding more than one skein of a yarn to finish their projects.

    I love that mother of pearl yarn!!!! I want!!

  3. Ooooo - Mother of Pearl is lusterous! YUM!

    What is it about single skeins that is SO appealing. They pique my creativity for sure.

    Best of luck with that hat. Big Box -not our friend.

  4. That mother of pearl is going to be flat-out gorgeous! Can't wait to see it plyed and knit up.
    I have a soft spot in my heart for orphan skeins, too. They just look so lonely in the bin...


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