April 23, 2005
Lace and cables and Lexington
News: My knitting webpage now features a cabling without a cable needle tutorial! That's right, the same insomniacs who brought you the make your own clothing labels, the learn how to knit Continentally by watching my videos, and the convert patterns into Combined knitting tutorials have now spent another sleepless night taking pictures of knitting. I was inspired to put this tutorial together because the ones currently available on the web just instruct you to transpose the cable stitches. I think there's a better way, although any way is better than using a cable needle :).
I'm also in the process of filming some videos of Continental ribbing. It never occurred to me, but apparently new knitters, or knitters new to the Continental way of holding yarn, sometimes have trouble visualizing how the yarn moves back and forth between knit and purl stitches. I have one video already up, but I'm not super happy with the lighting and will probably redo it.
I came across a drop-dead gorgeous shawl on Lou's Ends blog (get it? hehe, clever title), and I had to post a link. Why, oh why am I not able to knit lace? I've tried, friends, I've tried... it just hasn't happened for me yet.
And now that I'm done with the "housekeeping" announcements, the fun part.
I was going pretty nutty trying to find yarn for the Fibo. As you might remember, my two picks (Jaeger Matchmaker and Lang Jawoll) were a sore disappointment. As I was answering an e-mail to Colleen, the perfect yarn occurred to me: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock! Oooo, how I love Lorna's Laces. The wool is so soft, and the tiny bit of nylon gives the yarn such a nice sheen and drape. And check out some of the colors I could've used:
So, running to my stash I went, where I had a little bit of LL left over from a pair of socks for my grandma. The colorway is all wrong, of course, but I just wanted to get a feel. And yes, it is nice stuff. And it just got nicer after I blocked it. I called my local LL dealer and told her, pretty much, that I was going to come on Saturday and look at the LL color cards to place an order.
And then it occurred to me: I am thinking of knitting an entire sweater at a gauge of 32 sts/48 rows per 4" square on size US 1 needles. That's right, an entire sweater at a gauge of 32 sts/4" on US 1 needles. So then I made the cabling without a cable needle tutorial in utter frustration.
After relaxing in this way, I Googled the yarn the beaded sweater pattern calls for: Rowan Botany 4 ply. Rowan discontinues yarn quicker than they can package the same yarn under a different name, so the yarn is now called Rowan Soft 4 ply. And it looked quite lovely (the Rowan 4 ply Cashsoft, which someone mentioned in the comments, has great yardage and is even a bit cheaper. I imagine it's quite soft. However, the colors didn't terribly appeal to me). I took an afternoon trip to the LYS closest to me, where they got snippy with me for a second, but didn't have the Rowan Soft 4 ply. The color card looked promising, but I really wanted to get my hands on a ball of that stuff. I started calling around to other LYSs, and figured out that a not-so-L YS in Lexington (Wild & Woolly Studios) had a sizeable stock, and would be able to order more for me, if I wanted. I also figured out that no place online had Rowan Soft 4 ply significantly cheaper than retail.
I don't know what it is about me, but I must scream "poor graduate student, with (boomed in one of those ominous voices) the notebook of knowledge in her bag, full of information about all yarns: content, yardage, colors, prices, and availability" when I walk into a yarn shop. I even took a shower and put on a little make-up! I went to the trouble of making sure my pants were clean! I even unsurfaced my gray hair, usually hidden in the depths of my mane, and slicked it to the top - I never do that! At first the three LYS workers (I think two were between 50 and 60, and one was about 75) were afraid to come within 15 feet of me, and spoke to me from afar. Eventually two things became apparent: (1) I was very serious about dropping one hundred bucks then and there and (2) I knit the intricate Backyard Leaves scarf I was wearing myself. Well, then, it was like we were best buds all of a sudden!
Two colors of Rowan 4 ply caught my attention: sooty, a deep, dark charcoal, and rain cloud, a silverish gray with blue undertones (very reminiscent of the Louet I used to make these socks for grandma). Both were fully in stock, and I had a hard time deciding. Eventually I settled on the rain cloud, which is very similar to the color used in the original beaded sweater pattern. I bought one skein, and excused myself to the basement to swatch. Yes, I was a smart shopper and didn't buy an entire bag of yarn until I was sure this is what I wanted :). (Sidenote: one great thing about this store is that all the novelty yarns are banished to one corner of the basement; out of sight, out of mind, I like that!)
Working with this yarn is absolutely wonderful. It has the softness, the drape, the feel, the sheen, the texture I desire. I used the recommended needle size and got the exact stitch and row gauge that the label lists. Those Rowan folk know what they're talking about. I went back to the main floor and bought an entire bag of yarn at retail price. Unheard of for a Maven like me, but listen, I already wasted $15 on the Jaeger and Jawoll for swatching, and once I saw the right thing, I had to make my move: getting to Lexington is a huge ordeal, especially on Saturday when the buses come only every 1.5 hours, so I couldn't go home and think about it.
The dropping of the one hundred bucks was of course followed by even more praise for my Backyard Leaves scarf, and the amazement that I haven't been knitting that long, and the taking of my name to be placed on the mailing list, and the offer of the Wild & Woolly Wild Card (which I bought). I still had 40 minutes to kill before the bus came, and I wanted to shop for some needles that aren't otherwise carried at my more-L YSs. This warranted an introduction to the three workers (Mary, Pat, and Linda), and being called by my first name. The way I get treated, my one gray hair and all, after spending one hundred bucks is amazing.
P.S. Tara, check out Lana Grossa Cool Wool Merino 2000, in color 411 for your VYC. 50 grams, 175 yd, 24 sts/34 rows on US 3-4 (I don't know why that website lists a different gauge; I got my numbers from the ball band and it looked sportweight). I saw the ball, the yellow color, the whole thing with my own two eyes. This is very close to perfect, I would knit a VPC out of the pink version, no doubt.
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