Saturday, July 26, 2014

Die Cut Vest: Gauge and Yarn Deets

So, I was able to achieve an appropriate gauge to continue with the Die Cut Vest.

As discussed, what I required, in order to predict a finished width of 41" (after removing a couple of extra inches from the centre back) and a length of 18.5" was gauge of 6.75 stitches and 9.75 rows in one inch. As life isn't perfect, I got 7 stitches and 9.5-9.75 rows in an inch. That'll get me a finished length of 18 inches, which I can live with, and a width of 41" once I remove 2-2.5 inches from the centre back seam.

To clarify, the pattern suggests a 3mm needle. I'm working on a 2.5mm and, while the fabric is dense, I prefer it to the looser fabric I achieved on the 2.75mm needle. As it happens, once I started reading the Ravelry reviews in detail, I discovered that everyone has trouble getting gauge on the 3mm needle. Seriously. And most resort to a 2.5mm to get gauge. So the only explanation I can imagine for lots of oversized versions is the 9 inches of positive ease that the pattern doesn't clarify. I suspect everyone has made a size (or two) too large.

As you know, I'm a loose knitter so I'm not aiming to get gauge. It wouldn't be possible without the fabric turning into cardboard. A few of you suggested that I modify stitch numbers to achieve the finished garment size I'd like. There are 2 reasons that isn't a viable option for me at this time:
  • I'm just not interested in doing anymore math than I already have to make a shapeless vest, but more to the point...
  • The lacework panels are worked over 12 stitch repeats (remember, they're worked vertically, along the length). In order to change my stitch counts I'd need to drop 12 stitches (way too much length) or to totally reconstruct the lace pattern (outside of my current skill set).
But happily, I can still manage the dimensions with my best-choice needle size, so all is well.

Well, all is well except that I find myself knitting lacework for the second freakin' time this year (not to be confused with lace-weight - which is the annoying distinction of the Karner Wrap)?!?

Peeps, I don't appear to be liking it any better than I did last time. Lord, what a fussiness. The reason I'm putting up with it is that I only have 70 rows of lace work on each panel (140 rows total, each row having 125 stitches). It's not endless and it culminates, on each side, in a sea of stockinette. So you go from feast to famine, or hard to boring - not always a bad thing in a knitting project. And, at least, there are no sleeves!

But really, my goal in this post is to tell you about my yarn choice.

You know that I love Quince and Co. and that it's my go-to stash brand in fingering and sport-weight yarn. You also know that I have frequently expressed my hatred of linen. But what's a girl to do when a) linen is all the rage and b) a cute and interesting garment is constructed for a linen yarn?

She buys the Quince and Co. linen (aka Sparrow):

Quince and Co. Sparrow (linen in fingering-weight)
I know, I swore I'd never buy linen of any sort. I even had a chance to feel this linen (and to dislike it) on a few occasions before I bought 5 skeins for the Die Cut Vest. Thing is, the vest is meant for linen. Sure, I may not like the finished product. I'm all prepared to give this one away. But you can't use wool to make something designed for linen.

On the plus side, one doesn't overheat when knitting this in July. (In full disclosure, this July is shit-cold.)

Thoughts about Sparrow so far:
  • I went with the Pigeon colourway. It's GORGEOUS. Too bad they named it after the world's most pedestrian bird.
  • The yarn has beautiful sheen but it still feels like kitchen string.
  • It's splitty, but for some reason its splittiness isn't problematic.
  • It knits slowly. There's a kind of effort in knitting with linen.
  • It does become much softer with washing - and you can wash the crap out of it. This stuff is strong, if not delicate.
I've only got 10 rows into the first lacework panel and I feel I'm almost finished with the first skein. Yeah, I did knit 2 swatches that I can repurpose, but I hope these skeins feel smaller than they are or I'm definitely going to need more yarn. And, on the topic of turning Sparrow hanks into skeins: Egad. I wound the first hank by hand (with Scott) and it disintegrated 5 times before I found a groove. I don't know how this would wind on my ball winder but I'm kind of scared to try.

Today's questions: Have you wound Sparrow on a ball winder? How did it go? Have you used the Pigeon colour? What do you think of it? How do you feel about linen - and by all means, be honest. I mean, I hate the stuff! Let's talk!


  1. I have no answers to today's questions. I have never knit with linen, although I've admired it in the shop and the colors were indeed gorgeous. I agree, Pigeon is a pedestrian name for a beautiful colorway. Most of all, I appreciate your intense involvement in projects that seem quite miserable to carry out--but yay for the learning curve, every time! I am following this project with great interest!

    1. It's called intense complaining! :-) But thank you!

  2. I advise winding linen yarn over a core (such as a toilet paper tube) and unwinding from the outside end as you knit. Otherwise the ball collapses in on itself and gets tangled. Ask me how I know this! Good luck! It's a lovely sweater.

    1. That's a good idea! One I wouldn't have thought of!

  3. The sparrow winds beautifully on an umbrella swift / winder combo. It keeps its shape and having knitted eight skeins of it this way, I have not had it tangle once. Lovely colour you chose for this!

    1. I'm really glad to hear this because winding it by hand is HARD. Gonna try with the next skein.