weather or not

Posted on Posted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, food and garden

i’m not a religious person, but i do enjoy the religious holidays; i like that my geographically widespread family gets text- and photo-stream happy for a day or two, sharing plans and photos of food preparation and places they are visiting. these are days to savor as the kids grow up and my generation gets older.

it was crazy though, as only an easter that lands on april fool’s day can be—while the day was cold and windy, it was also quite sunny and we got out for a very long evening walk to visit all of our doggy friends and places. for supper afterward, i made a yummy pasta dish with asparagus, mushrooms, and cured olives and then sat down for a long chat with my friend katharine.

at one point i turned around to look out the window and WHOA! it was a frosted winter wonderland, thick wet snow coating every branch. and as i write this, it’s snowing again now, though it was 60 degrees last night. spring in ohio, haha.

i had nice knitting weekend, too—without classes on saturday morning, i stayed up til nearly dawn on friday night making swatches and had a little extra time on saturday to knit, too. i completed this sleeve—the first finished piece of my second deep dive pullover in my very favorite stone soup fingering yarn. i don’t have a really dark brown sweater and thought this v-neck, with its rich, deep cabled details would be a good opportunity to use the river rock shade. you can’t say at all that the texture will disappear with this design—those cables are mighty, mightay.

i’m also preparing to begin the cardigan version of my sea fret design, which i envision in one of our soft cream shades of bare naked wools fingering yarn or perhaps a light sport weight. i love the idea of an airy, breathable spring/fall fabric that glows with light for this garment, which i imagine i would grab to throw on for just about any outing. where we live, the wind can pick up at any time or the sky can cloud over to bring on a chill.

to achieve the kind of fabric i want, i need a fiber that has some body—one that, when it blooms, will hold its fibers ends out to support the stitches around itself. that will make a lighter, airier fabric which is breathable, has good wicking properties, and maintains its shape nicely. a very soft fiber won’t perform in quite the same way; it will be dense and cozy, but that’s for another season. also, without garment seams to add support, a soft fiber may sag or torque.

to obtain my goal fabric, i felt like i had three choices among our array of fingering yarns—tweedy, stone soup fingering (a strong blend of heritage wools and merino, alpaca, and luxury fibers), cooper sport (100% springy coopworth lambswool), and ghillie sock (100% cheviot wool)

stone soup fingering is my go-to yarn for durable, everyday sweaters that i’ll wear often, but since we’d already decided to knit a sea fret pullover sample in that, i decided to focus on cooper sport and ghillie sock. these two single breed yarns are the perfect thing for knitting aran designs and ganseys—plus, i don’t yet have a garment knit in either one. a word about the word “sport” vs. “sock” or “fingering”; while our yarns are classified according to the diameter and yards per pound at which they are spun, their individual fiber characteristics often allow them to cross lines and perform in a neighboring class. the way they relax and drape or bloom and puff up, allow them to be knit in a wider range of gauges and needle sizes than most commercial yarns. so the fact that i’m trying out a sport yarn here has more to do with the characteristics of coopworth fiber than with the yards per pound.

i knit a pair of swatches in each yarn, one on size 6US (4.0 mm) needles and one on size 5US (3.75 mm) needles. i’d used 4.0 mm needles for the original samples but both of these yarns are so springy that the gauge on those needles was too loose (not enough sts per inch; fabric a bit loose). so i went to the smaller needles for another go. the photo above shows both prewashed and post washed swatches—what a difference, eh? there is such a change in the character of the fabric—the fabric relaxes and flattens (especially in row height) and the stitches become much more consistent. it’s a really important step in the swatching process and necessary for gathering a proper gauge measurement. oh and yes, i got much closer to gauge on the second swatches.

once my swatching was done, it was a real tossup for me about which fabric to knit with—they are different, but similar and each has a wonderful, unique character. they are equally soft and light and creamy. the cooper is a bit fuzzier and feels a little denser, probably due to its 2-ply construction. the ghillie is smooth, with slightly crisper stitch definition. i passed the swatches around at our team meeting last week; david liked the defined pattern in the ghillie but preferred the soft fabric in cooper and ellen went straight to the cooper sport. so cooper sport it is! i will save the ghillie sock for a cabled sweater design that i have planned for fall.

dang i just love the process of getting ready to knit. haha, i know that’s not the best part for most people, but i can’t help it—i could swatch all day; it could be my job and i’d be happy. oh wait—it IS my job. yay!

i’ve been working on the matching cap here and there; it’s just about ready for top decreases to begin, but i got sidetracked by some secret knitting. i can bring it to knit night this evening and maybe get it off the needles. now that i’ve taken it out of the project bag again (oops, i may not have looked at it all week), i’m kind of excited; it’s possible this hat will fit david and that he’ll like it.

we had thought about traveling to see my mom for the holiday, but david is working on the very last pieces for our new website and it just wasn’t a good time to take five days off. so we worked hard, but we also made time for some fun.

because cardigan has been doing so well with her socialization exercises, we needed to refresh everyone’s supply of dog biscuits. i had a couple of overripe bananas, so i decided to substitute them for the sweet potatoes in my regular recipe.

using banana seemed to increase the flour requirement a little, BTW. cardigan was on stand-by to taste the batter and make sure i measured everything correctly, with especially generous additions of peanut butter.

she was also a big helper in watching the oven; the smell was intoxicating, i must say. then she helped with the taste testing that followed.

i tasted one myself and i must say, these are spectacular—er, for a dog biscuit.

11 thoughts on “weather or not

  1. You got me all psyched for spring with the purple crocuses, then regaled us with snow pictures! Cardigan is one lucky dog with home baked doggy treats—makes me feel like a cad when I give Ben a Milkbone!

  2. I just love seeing your swatches…makes me want to go swatch something too! Looking forward to this sweeater pattern, but f8r now I’ll just contemplate yarn choices.

    And thanks for the crocus picture!

  3. The photo of the dog biscuit mixture in the food processor looks pretty good! I think I’ll go make breakfast!

  4. You are very talented fortunate to live in a cold climate , sure wish I did. It stays hot here in Charleston,S.C.

  5. Peanut butter and banana dog biscuits? Yum! That’s my favorite sandwich, with a little honey added too. Deep Dive will look splendid in River Rock! That’s a really deep, rich color. Thank you for showing the swatch comparison. I would have guessed gillie sock would plump up more, but no….!

  6. The dog biscuits look yummy. You can’t go wrong with peanut butter and bananas! It’s snowing (again) here in Ottawa and I’m always looking for a new hat pattern. The matching sea fret hat would fit nicely into my winter knitted hat collection! Btw, Cardigan is such a good baker’s helper ;).

  7. I have several of your Craftsy classes—which I refer to often—successfully knit Ondule—and am trying to decide which of your patterns to purchase next. All very good, but not as wonderfully heart warming as your cardigan stories. Please continue to keep us up to date on your oh so sweet pup!

  8. I find the more time I spend preparing for a knitting project the happier I am with the outcome. Taking time to pair the yarn to a pattern is a fine art. Thanks for nudging us along.

    I too have never taken a class from you in person, but cherish your Craftsy classes that are chock full of wisdom.

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