Sunday, October 28, 2012

Gauge The Situation: Thoughts On Sport Weight

It took me a month to plan and knit a quarter of the Siivet Pullover, and 2 days to finish the last 75% of it. (In truth, it's blocked, but not seamed. Read below for the seaming heresy I've got in mind.) The Siivet is mindless knitting. Actually, today was the first time it occurred to me that, without a doubt, the thing I like most about any knitting is planning the project. Choosing the yarn, modifying the size and shape, using my imagination. Making the fabric is simply a means to an end (sometimes more fun, sometimes less). What keeps me going is the idea of the finished project. Will it look like I've anticipated? Will it drape well? Did I figure out the optimal dimensions to suit my shape?

Can't tell you yet if this one's gonna look good. I guess that depends on how it hangs once I've got it put together. But it steam blocked up very nicely - very smoothly. I really hope I called the dimensions right, because the fabric of the sweater is very lovely.

Is the ribbing fantastic? Not if you look too closely in certain spots, but I'm kind of hoping for a bamboozle effect. It's small in the waist and shoulders. I'm hoping that's going to provide adequate distraction.

Let me speak briefly about the yarn - deep navy Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino. Maybe you've heard, but there are suits pending which allege that Cashmerino yarn is actually devoid of cashmere. Wouldn't surprise me at all. I don't feel it's cashmere vibe so much as I feel it's plied microfibre vibe. I'm not traumatized by this, though it is a pretty pricey yarn given that it's likely simply wool and synthetic. This batch did not contain many breaks in the yarn - maybe 2 over 7 skeins. It also does not produce the fibre halo I discerned in the Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran. Some people complain that, as a very soft yarn, this stuff pills up pretty quickly. I have not had that experience. In short, I think it's a great yarn for a slim sweater - or anything for a baby or child. It doesn't felt easily and it's machine washable (though watch it in the dryer).

How did I finish it so quickly? Well, I'm not really doing much. I just sat on the couch all day (a few couches actually) and continued to knock off the rows. My goal is to return to work tomorrow. I have to say that this does make me slightly anxious. The part of me that desperately needs and wants to get back into the real world is at odds with the part of me that's afraid to leave the house. And the part of me that's worried about having enough stamina. The likelihood is that I'm not going to feel like my normal self for another month. I mean, I'll love it if I'm all perfect next week, but I don't know how realistic that is. My throat is full of painful ulcers. I do cough (but in no way contagiously). I'm tired. Sleep is still somewhat elusive. The mucous thing continues. Mind you, I can breathe. I do feel more energetic, proven by my sweater focus. I've been so isolated for so long. I think it's time to re-emerge.

But I've digressed.

I do want to chat about sport-weight sweaters. I don't think I've made one before - I've ping-ponged from worsted to fingering and never stopped half way between to take advantage of the slender properties (but relative hardiness) of sport weight. What you get, on balance, looks more like a slender fingering result than a sturdy end product. But it doesn't take anywhere near as long. It's too bad I haven't found many patterns in sport-weight that resonate because I think it might be the best all-around combination.

I chose to knit 4 sweaters for the Gauge the Situation Series. I will actually knit 5 in the end, because I couldn't choose between two worsted options: the Chuck and the Inaugural - so I made them both. The Chuck, made with (slightly thinner) worsted than the Inaugural's aran worked better on my frame. I've learned that a thinner gauge plays up my best features and doesn't overwhelm my narrow frame. It also doesn't obscure my breasts, or make them seem more like chub than curve.

I have 2 weights left to experiment with: the fingering (sock)-weight and the DK-weight. I suspect that DK will be workable, if not optimal, because it's like thin worsted. Not as slender as the sport, but better than the puffy aran. The fingering weight - well - both of my fingering sweater adventures to date have taken a long time and yielded unsuccessful finished products (the Wispy Cardigan and the McCardell). Mind you, I didn't know as well what I was trying to achieve with them as I hope I do now. I also wasn't using the most awesome yarn ever on either of those occasions. (Stay tuned to hear about the fingering yarn I purchased. I'll give you a hint. It's pure, fucking cashmere. First time I've given myself that kind of latitude. I must be thinking a lot of myself these days...)

In the next few days, my goal is to seam up this Siivet pullover - probably on my sewing machine!?. What? It's no less hand-made for taking an hour out of the finishing process, and one that's much more quickly modifiable if the sizing needs to be tweaked. I'll also present you with info about the yarn and proposed patterns for the DK and fingering sweaters. The DK options are not overwhelming, though fingering patterns jump out of everywhere.

Of course, my first goal is to reintegrate with my work environment and to stay on top of my energy. If I'm a bit slow to post, that's likely why.

On a side-note: Today M suggested to me that it's totally crazy we haven't been eating "healthy pre-prepared food" on a weekly basis for her entire life. She's made many suggestions about how I can make this happen from now on. Apparently, she intends to eat this way when she goes to art school or university because "it's just practical and easy". The reality of cost is entirely lost on her. And trust me, I'm all about spending stupidly on food as often as the mood takes me, which is much of the time. Mind you, I can really see the benefits of having some pre-made things on hand for the next couple of weeks. I just hope this hurricane doesn't bring such hideous weather that I'm unable to get to the Whole Foods in the next couple of days.


  1. Work? Really? Are you sure?
    Fingers crossed that the weather isn't too all sounds more than a little scary. Keep safe and keep knitting.

    1. Thanks Evie. It's been ok. A weird transition for sure, but my spirits are much improved for being around other people. I just have to take it easy.

  2. Yeah! Sewing on your knitting! If the armscye is too small - seam that baby bigger, cut off the extra, overcast the edge! If the thing is too blocky, take in the side seams at the waist! After all, we can SEW. It's FABRIC. right?

  3. Hope all goes well with the adventure back to work. I prefer sport or fingering weight because I just don't like the bulk and warmth of worsted. I live in Seattle and while it gets cold here it is mostly wet. When I was in Michigan I could deal with heavier sweaters, but in the Northwest the lighter weights are really more useful except when skiing. Can't wait to see the seamed up outcome. I have a light weight sweater that I finished and blocked in August and still having seamed it together.

    1. It's going alright so far. I did seam the sweater by machine and it's really way too big. Mind you, I could just pull 3 inches out of the side by serging. That's pretty extreme though.

  4. Sportweight to DK might be my favourite for finished fabric -- I especially love Rowan Felted Tweed DK, although I know you're not going to be a fan as it really does have a "wooly" look.
    Take it easy back at work -- perhaps just a few days this week?

    1. I've been working less intensely than usual, and for fewer hours as necessary. It's going alright. Though I do very much look forward to feeling something like normal someday soon.

  5. oh, and btw, my grandma would often sew up her knitting projects on the machine -- she was a practical woman!

  6. Interesting thoughts on gauge. So far I like all the weights I've tried! I can't see any real benefit in dropping down below 5ply. It just seems too labour intensive lol.
    I think probably the larger you are, the more careful you have to be about chunkier yarn. Since I'm pretty small up top I quite like the extra bulk heh :)

    I'm glad you managed to get back to work! :)