As you may have already guessed from the title of this post, I did indeed finish my Ravellenic Games project -- just barely!
Pattern: Helenium by Amanda Scheuzger
Yarn: Knit Picks Simply Wool Worsted in Wendy, 5.32 skeins, and Chroma Worsted in Lupine, 0.54 skeins
Needles: US 6 (4.0 mm) and US 3 (3.25 mm)
Started/Completed: February 9/February 24
I worked on my sweater nearly the whole way to our destination on Saturday (I couldn't work on it for the first 30-45 minutes or so because we left so early that it was still dark). One of the group ended up not being able to come, so I was able to spread out a bit in the car and not have to worry about elbowing my fellow passengers while I knit. I took a brief break when we arrived for the baby shower but pulled my knitting out again later in the afternoon and then stayed up later than usual (I didn't go to bed until after 11!) to finish it Saturday evening when we got to our hotel.
The finishing was not without a bit of drama, unfortunately. In my rush to get out the door on Saturday morning -- I got up at my usual time and didn't have any caffeine until we were already on the road -- I forgot to grab my notions bag, so I didn't have any tapestry needles with me to do all the finishing. That meant I had to fudge things with what I had on hand, so really all I did was try to do the grafts on the needles, using a spare needle to pull the yarn through, and tuck the ends inside rather than fully weaving them in. It felt a bit like cheating, but as my mother said when I mentioned this, I would have done everything completely if I'd had my tapestry needles with me, so really I was just making do with the resources I had. When I got back from the trip yesterday, I undid all the messy grafts and redid them properly as well as wove in all the ends -- fixing everything after the fact, I suppose.
I really enjoyed knitting this pattern, and feel like I learned a lot about brioche by knitting the two-color yoke. There were a couple of rounds that were challenging, particularly one of the last rounds, which involves a 4-into-1 decrease, but overall it was much easier than I was expecting. I foresee a lot more shaped brioche in my future!
As to the yarn, I really cannot say enough nice things about Simply Wool. It's a great workhorse yarn that reminds me very much of Cascade 220 (but at a better price!). Every single one of the skeins I received was a bit overweight, and I actually ended up with one skein completely untouched and one mostly unused, so I have a good amount left to do something with. I have a feeling that the next time I need a basic worsted weight wool, this will be the first yarn I think of. Judging by the supply Knit Picks seems to have, it's been a very popular yarn line, and I hope it's one they'll continue and perhaps expand (maybe they'll do some dyed colors in the future?).
The Chroma worked well as far as color effect is concerned, but next time I do two-color brioche, I won't be working with a yarn that's a soft-spun single. Most of the frustrations with the process had to do with the yarn snagging, sticking, or pilling, and I found myself twisting an awful lot of the Chroma as I prepared to knit with it because it seemed to be falling apart. I know that's an expected hazard when you're working with a yarn like this, and I think it was worth it in this instance for the fantastic slow color change, but I doubt I'd do it again (although Rainbow now wants me to make something for her with the leftovers, so I may have to eat my words).
I am really, really happy with how this project turned out, and frankly I'm very proud of myself for getting it done. For a while there, I was really doubting that I'd make it, but now it's officially tied for the fastest sweater I've ever made (the last one I made this fast was this sweater that I was knitting for a test knit -- and it was certainly an easier knit). I definitely challenged myself with this pattern, and not just in the amount of time I had to complete it -- and I think that was pretty much the intended purpose of doing the Ravellenic Games in the first place. I am bit bummed that our weather seems to be headed toward spring and I likely won't get many opportunities to wear this sweater before I have to pack it away for the summer -- because it's very thick and cozy, perfect for more typical winter weather -- but I have zero regret about making it. It's really a spectacular piece (and that's a comment on the design, not my ability in executing it), and it got commented on by everyone who saw it over the weekend, the vast majority of them nonknitters. Even if I don't get much wear out of it this season, it'll be so nice knowing that I have a real statement piece in my wardrobe to wear to knitter-centric events where it will really be admired.