i am so glad to be home—believe it or not, there is a part of me that hates being away from home, no matter how cold and dreary ohio can be. first of all, i miss david. but also, i miss the quiet, absorbing work of calculating figures and putting together the pieces that build each pattern i write.
as much as the knitting itself, i love this part of my work; writing instructions that make sense and result in beautiful objects, figuring out the best way to say each step so that anyone else could knit the thing that i’m knitting—i think of this as another art form, one that i enjoy very much.
as i work, i think of how you would read this or that line and which way to word it so that it makes the most sense to the most knitters (of course, there will alway be outliers—instructions for which there is no best way to state an action).
so i hope you don’t mind that i took a few days after my trip to sink into the pile of pattern work that awaited me, communing back and forth with anne marie, tana, anne, and katharine about proofreading, tech editing, and test knitting. and at the same time, continuing work on my own sweater knitting projects, like this dressy little cardigan where i am incorporating the lace and cable motif from the wheaten patterns. i have finished the first sleeve and started one of the fronts; when it is complete, i should have plenty of data to write up the first draft of the pattern.
for this project i’m working with a new yarn from spirit trail fiberworks—tayet, 100% BFL fingering yarn—which is not available yet, but will debut at maryland sheep and wool. i just love this yarn; it is beautifully constructed, with a polished surface that is neither too round or too stiff—just a gorgeous, soft hand and sheen that knits up into a light, soft fabric with lovely drape.
this design will also be luscious in better breakfast fingering yarn, which is on the recommended yarn list (one of us will be knitting that as a test knit once the pattern is sized). it offers a similar hand and drape with a light halo instead of sheen.
of course, all that pattern work means i haven’t had as much time to knit since i got home, but i’m making the most of what time i have to devote to it. i’m off to a good start on the last piece of my natty pullover in better breakfast DK and i’m looking forward to the finish. though the frozen backbone of winter has seemingly been broken, i’m sure there is still time to wear it this year.
speaking of the natty pullover, on sunday i wet blocked the sleeves because i was dying to assess the performance of the washed fabric and see what the final texture would look like (just like many other knitters, i sometimes worry that a subtle texture will get lost when i wash the fabric, even though I’ve never had it happen, haha).
i really prefer to steam block my pieces before stitching them together, but that doesn’t give me the same results and, as a person who teaches about yarn, fabric, and the uses of blocking, i get curious now and then to experiment with practices that others use frequently, but which i use rarely. there is always something to learn and it helps me understand the questions people have.
anyway, one of the reasons i like to save the wet blocking until my garment is completely sewn up, is that the untethered pieces have so much more leeway for growing and becoming distorted—which then requires (what feels like) more work at corralling them back to the right size and shape. for some reason i find this fiddly in wet blocking, but not for steam blocking, though it takes about the same amount of time.
immediately out of the rinse water, i rolled them in a towel and squeezed like crazy to get every drop of excess moisture out. them i subjected them to my “encouragement process” to bring some of the body back into the yarn and straighten the plies (see my craftsy finishing class or my interweave blocking DVD for more on that).
this encourages the yarn to take up air and improves the loft of the fabric. i pinned all the edges to the measurements in the sleeve schematic. i’ve got both sleeves pinned one right on top of the other to make sure they turn out the same size. as you can see, the wet fabric wants to be bigger than it’s supposed to be. don’t let this fool you into thinking it must remain that way—it doesn’t have to. with very wet pieces, it’s a mistake to allow them to be whatever size and shape they came out of the water.
actually, if you pin them down and periodically go back to fluff, smooth, and ease them back into shape, they will regain the size they are supposed to be.
if given enough space, “encouragement”, and plenty of air to breathe, the fibers will coil up and pull in as they dry, gaining back much of their spring. the fabric will show improved loft, density, and the stitch definition you desire.
i will probably still go back into them with some steam to encourage more bloom in the fabric, but they turned out fine, i think—with a smooth and cohesive surface, broken only by plump garter ridges that create the surface motif.
the fabric drapes in a way that will be lovely on the figure, but has enough enough body to maintain its shape. i’m excited about the way it’s turning out!
i’m also knitting a cardigan version in this sunshiny orange polwarth sport yarn—so aptly named joyful by briar rose fibers. while this yarn has a bit more spring and slightly firmer twist than the BBDK, i do just love the velvety soft surface and density it offers. i have a feeling that where my pullover will be a comfy, slouchy, “boyfriend” type sweater, the cardigan will offer a more tailored look and feel. in fact, i am adding a bit of side seam shaping to this version as well (which could easily be left out; knitter’s choice).
speaking of orange and sunshine, i got up early on monday to bake a peach cobbler and i snapped this picture as the sun spilled over the windowsill and into the pan—isn’t it pretty?
even prettier, the finished cobbler, with cornmeal biscuit topping (gluten free). mmmmm.
i might be a little scarce over the next few days—not only am i burying myself in pattern work, but david and i are traveling on thursday to see my nephew’s family and we are also finalizing the march chapter for the blanket statement club this weekend.
so you might see just brief postcards, but who knows? if the baby has a bad night and no one can sleep, you might get an eyeful of a long car ride worth of knitting progress and random thoughts . . . stay tuned.