Tuesday, July 02, 2013

An End, at Last

It seemed only appropriate that on the first day of the Tour de Fleece, I finished a long-suffering WIP from my own handspun.

Pattern: Breezy Cardigan by Hannah Fettig
Yarn: my handspun -- 85% Polwarth, 15% silk from All Spun Up, 8 oz.
Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm) Chiago Goo Red Lace circs
Started/Completed: June 29, 2012/June 29, 2013

This sweater started way back in October of 2011, when I received two beautiful twists of fiber from my favorite dyer (who is, alas, now out of business) as part of a spinalong. The colorway for this fiber was Tapestry, a name that, in my opinion, was a perfect fit for the deep colors in the fiber. It took me a good two months to spin up one huge skein of two-ply laceweight -- a total of 1,630 yards. I knew that with that much yardage, I had to knit a sweater, so at some point last summer, I wound a really enormous yarn cake and got to work. I cast on for the sweater leading in to last year's Tour de Fleece and made a good start on it (as you do when you're working a top-down raglan and the rows are still short).

As you would expect would happen with a laceweight sweater, I soon grew bored with it, so into the bottom of the knitting bag it went. Every now and then I'd pull it out again and put in a few more rows, so it continued to grow, albeit slowly. Then, as spring gave way to summer, I realized that my poor neglected sweater was nearing its first birthday, and it's usually not in me to let projects linger that long without being finished (with one notable exception). So I decided to focus on getting it done, hoping to finish before this year's Tour de Fleece started and I put it down once again in favor of spinning all the time. I'm very happy to report that this happened, and in fact I finished it on the day the Tour started (I figured that it was acceptable to take time away from spinning in order to finish a project out of handspun).

There's not too much to say about this sweater. I knew I'd like it because it's the lightweight version of one of my favorite hand-knit sweaters to wear. The knitting itself was pretty mindless; it's a top-down stockinette raglan, so for the body I really only had to pay attention every other row, and for the sleeves, I just had to count rounds in between decreases. The real challenge in this pattern was keeping the motivation to finish it; when you're working with laceweight, it can take a long time to see any perceptible progress, so sometimes it felt like I'd been knitting for hours and only added half an inch in length. I'm glad I stuck with it, though, because this is an incredibly wearable sweater. It's actually perfect for this time of year, because I almost always need a light layer in the office to keep warm in the aggressive air conditioning. This sweater adds just a little warmth without bulk, and I can easily shove* it in my bag at the end of the day and not notice any extra weight on the walk home.

I will note that I did discover one pretty significant error in the pattern, and I have been in touch with the designer about it. When I was ready to start the ribbed cuff of my first sleeve, I realized that the stitch count I had -- which matched what was listed in the pattern -- was not divisible by four and thus wouldn't work out with a 2x2 rib. I though maybe it was just an issue with my size, but then I got out my calculator and realized that it was an issue for all the sizes. I immediately sent Hannah a PM on Ravelry, which was answered several days later by one of her helpers, who said that I should work one more or one less set of decreases in the arm. I wasn't about to rip back several inches' worth of work to add another set of decreases, so I worked them into my first round of ribbing. I don't think you can tell a difference, and frankly I don't think it's such a huge deal; I was just surprised that this type of error hadn't been caught before (but bear in mind that I was working with a hard copy; it's very likely that the error has been corrected in the digital version).

Silly photo (c) Rainbow
Now I'll bet you're thinking that after this experience I'd never knit another laceweight sweater again. You may be right, at least in part. I'm not in a hurry to knit another right away, but I wouldn't say I'd never do it again. In fact, I have two gorgeous skeins of laceweight that the Mister and Rainbow bought me for my birthday this year that are just begging to become a sweater (because, frankly, I'd be buried alive by a shawl that used all that yardage). The key is to start it knowing that will take me a good amount of time to finish and not plan to have it done by a certain date -- unless I want to eschew all other projects and crafts until it's done. So I'm not casting on just yet, but don't be surprised (or call me crazy!) if it happens again in the near future.

*And by "shove," I mean "fold it carefully and wrap it in a bag or something so it doesn't get snagged by anything."


  1. Congratulations! Your sweater is simply beautiful.

  2. I don't know where to begin. I love the handspun and the way it knitted up so much. But I think really, it's that the finished piece is so much better than even the handspun (that I thought was gorgeous!), so well done. Really, really impressive!

  3. gorgeous sweater! i love the colors. i have a bunch of laceweight in my stash but i lost the will to knit laceweight sweaters a long time ago. or really any sweaters.

  4. YAY!!!! I love it! It looks really great on you. I have a digital copy of that pattern, I'll have to remember the bit about the sleeves when I get around to knitting it =D

  5. Love it! It's really been a very big project!