Monday, February 23, 2015

Around the block with a new sweater

Good lord, it's cold. I live outside of Washington, DC where the average February high temperature is 47 degrees; today we hit a high of 20 degrees with a bone-chilling 10-degree wind chill. Freezing is usually a good thing for knitters - we get to wear the knitables we made over the summer. But wearing them all at the same isn't what I had in mind. (Truth in advertising, this picture is from last winter which was also way too fricking cold.)

On Saturday, the sky dumped 14 inches of snow on my neighborhood so I never left my house. I'm a Mid-Atlantic woosie - we don't do snow here. I hunkered down with my beloved pug, knitting away on a new sweater and watching endless episodes of Intervention. And Birdman (I liked Boyhood better.)

I'm excited about this new sweater, a cardiganized (is that a word?) version of Julia Farwell-Clay's Oxford. I'm wondering how this pullover, which was photographed on the skinniest, longest-waisted girl in the world, will look on my over-ample, short-waisted, old-lady self. I think I can pull it off - with adjustments, of course.

I'm using the same yarn Julia used to design the sweater: Color by Kristin from Classic Elite Yarn. In a lucky break, it's currently on closeout at Webs. This worsted yarn, a blend of 50% wool, 25% alpaca, and 25% mohair is Gorgeous with a capital G. I didn't expect to be wowed, but I am. When I swatched, I was underwhelmed - the yarn looked like it was rode hard and put up wet. 

But then I washed the swatch, went to bed, and looked at it the next morning. I'd heard about yarn blooming, but I'd never witnessed it before. Wowwww. Wowwwwwwww. Gorgeous. The cables popped, the stitches rebooted, and my confidence was restored.

Here's a crappy progress photo (why do my iphone and ipad take such lousy pictures?). Coming right along, plus I finished another repeat over the weekend. You're looking at two saddle shoulders and the upper back here.

And check out these perfect buttons - how cool is it that the button mirrors the cable crossings? Love it!
As I mentioned, I'm going to turn this into a cardigan. Other planned mods include:
  • Upsizing the sweater which only comes in sizes up to 51 inches (I need 60 in the bust and even more in the hips)
  • Dropping the front neckline for a better fit in the shoulders
  • Revising the stitch pattern under the arms to avoid the all-ribbing of the original design - I don't want this sweater to cling to me like a whiny child
  • Adding some waist shaping 

I'll have more to say about this project soon. But for today, the moral is: wash your swatch. It can make a real difference, especially for animal fibers. If you're knitting in acrylic, I don't think your yarn will ever bloom, but that could just be my yarn snootiness talking.