New sweater

Posted in knitting, planning, spinning, Sweater for JJ by tchemgrrl on October 23, 2009

I have too many projects right now, and they are all thoroughly failing to capture my imagination. (For me, this is usually the problem with having too many WIPs; too many options leads to dissatisfaction with all of them.) Clearly, it’s new project time.

At the recent Finger Lakes Fiber Arts Festival, I bought about two pounds of some very nice Ashland Bay BFL top from Winderwood Farm, mostly natural white with some streaks of medium brown.



Super soft stuff, very creamy to the touch, and with some nice lanoliny smell to it. The excuse I made to buy it was that I haven’t knit J anything in a while, and maybe he’d like a handspun sweater. (If he didn’t, I did!)

He liked the fiber and has had a general sweater-type in mind for a while, so I spun up a sample and trolled Ravelry for interesting-looking fitted men’s sweater patterns.

I’m always disappointed when looking for men’s sweaters.  Limited gauges, baggy sloppy fit, none of the types of details that make so many women’s patterns must-knits. What J wants is a sweater that can be worn indoors without sweating to death, and for him that means DK weight or lighter. He looks good in fitted stuff, he likes sweaters with full- or half-length zippers.  He likes the idea of a cable or two.

He liked the Expedition Pullover, but still wanted a lighter yarn than the Cascade Eco Wool recommended. Brooklyn Tweed’s modification of the Urban Aran Pullover for a man and a cardigan looks great too, but it’s also a fairly bulky yarn. I may have to give it some more thought–I could adjust the gauge, but it’s always a slippery slope from adjusting gauge to just writing my own darn sweater pattern, and right now I’m just in the mood to follow instructions.

At the same time, I decided to sample the fiber a bit. I wasn’t sure if it would be advantageous to make the color variation stick out more or not, and I wanted to see what the fabric felt like knit up. I spun up a small amount of two 3-ply yarns. The first one was spun semiworsted, with a shortish backward draw, keeping the fibers aligned but allowing some air to get into the drafting triangle. The second was spun from the fold, trying to get my non-wooleny self to spin as fluffily woolen as possible. Spinning from the fold was also a way to maximize the color variation–the color variations go in the direction of the fiber here, so spinning perpendicular to that minimized the amount of color mixing which could occur. For the purposes of sampling, I chain-plied the singles I spun, and knit a teeny swatch, not even big enough to trust gauge, but enough to give me an idea of which direction to go.

biffle sample

biffle sample

More-worsted yarn on the bottom, more woolen yarn on the top. It’s a bit difficult to see the color variations in the woolen yarn, but they’re quite apparent in person. Spinning from the fold certainly made a difference in the character of the yarn–it’s a bit bumpier, and looked better on a larger needle in spite of nearly-identical wpi on the singles.  I was worried that the more worsted yarn would feel harsher and less comfortable, but I found that the feel of the fabric was still light and soft, while maintaining beautifully crisp even stitches and just enough subtle heathering to make it compelling.  It makes a great light fabric on US5’s, 5.5 stitches to the inch.

I’m thinking that it might be an interesting exercise to see how fast I could spin and knit a whole sweater. A little challenge for myself, just the thing to kickstart the creativity. I just need to decide on a pattern.


One Response

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  1. Karyn said, on October 24, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    One of my SF knitting friends spun and knit a sweater. It looks amazing, and she’s so proud. I can’t remember how long it too her, though…

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