crafts · Crochet · knitting · yarn

Progress and swatches (continued)

I’m making slow but steady progress on both of my sweater WIPs, especially now that I’ve done away with all my other WIPs.  I’ve finished the back and half a sleeve of the lush cardigan.

It even looks pretty in pieces!  The sizing seems to be working out the way I wanted it to, so I’m happy that my dodgy maths are working out.  I’ve also completed the back of the comfy cardi, but it is not constructed the same way as the lush sweater.

This sweater is constructed all in one piece, to avoid any bulky shoulder seams.  In order to achieve this, I am adding chains onto the sleeves every row and then crocheting into the chains, resulting in a sweater that is now nearly 3x the width of the back by itself (I have done more since this photo was taken.)   This seems like it will make nice tapered sleeves, but it takes about 19 years to complete a row (ok, maybe 40 minutes, but it seems like ages.)  I don’t care though, because I’m still having a lot of fun with this one, even if it is disproving that whole “crochet is super fast” thing.  I’m debating whether I’m going to do crocheted or knitted ribbing, when I get to that point.  I’m leaning towards knitted, but it will depend on how the sweater fits.

Now I want to finish up the rest of the swatches I made this weekend.  I’m so glad to hear that many of you enjoy the swatch posts – I was a little afraid it was boring, but they’re very useful for me!  Even if I lose a swatch I can still dig up the pertinent information on the blog.

I did have a question about how I swatch, so I thought I would mention that.  I keep 2 or so rows of garter stitch and the beginning and end of the swatch, and I also keep the outer 2 stitches on each side in garter stitch while I knit.  This keeps the swatch from curling when I go to measure it.  I also tie knots in the waste yarn to indicate the needle size used – ie 7 knots for a size 7 needle.  This has really saved me a few times.  My swatches are usually wide enough (around 4 inches) but I rarely knit a 4″ tall swatch, since I don’t usually need that accurate of a row gauge.  This has never bitten me, so I feel ok about it.  Any swatch is better than no swatch, so don’t feel compelled to knit a giant swatch if you don’t want to.   I wash everything, because I often find that I get a change in gauge after the yarn has been wet.

Yarn: Berroco Naturlin in Cinnamon

Notes: I get 6.25 st/in on US 2 needles using this yarn.  It may have shrunk a tiny, tiny bit during washing.  This yarn is a blend of linen and rayon, and I really think it’s a lovely a successful blending.  It has the crispness of linen, but the shine and drape of rayon.  It’s easier on the hands than knitting with 100% linen, which was my aim here.  I’m going to knit the tuxedo top from last summer’s IK.  I was not initially attracted to the pattern because of the icky putty color it was knit in, but I’ve since seen some really lovely ones.  The color palette this yarn comes in isn’t too exciting, although there is a nice indigo, but it does come in some nice warm neutrals.

Yarn: Valley Yarns Southwick in Iguana

Notes: I have now sampled all the Valley Yarns cotton blends, and this is my favorite.  It’s a cotton/bamboo blend with a lovely drape.  It is knitted here to 5 st/in on US 5 needles – it grew during blocking, so this would need to be accounted for.  It feels cool and lovely to knit with, and it is only slightly splitty, unlike some bamboo yarns (RYC bamboo soft… I’m looking at you!)  This color is extremely green, but I think I like it… maybe.  My kitchen is this color, and I feel the same way about it.   I’m considering using this to make one of the crocheted cardigans from Everyday Crochet.  One of them is crocheted in bamboo, and it has a lovely drape, plus I think this yarn would give me the smaller size I need.

Yarn: Valley Yarns longmeadow in Seafoam

Notes: I’ve swatched this yarn before, but this is a better color for me.  It’s an ok cotton blend, not too stiff and with a slight sheen from the non-cotton fiber (I think it’s modal?)  This is knitted to a little over 5 st/in on US 5 needles, and it could be knitted a little tighter I think.  It did not change size during blocking.  It isn’t my favorite, but it’s perfectly serviceable, and the price is excellent.

Yarn: Valley Yarns Goshen in Peach

Notes: I’ve always heard that redheads can wear peach, but I never have.  I’m testing that theory out with this yarn, but I’m unconvinced that I can wear it.   I’m just never sure about pastels… It’s a lovely blend, soft and easy to knit, with a pretty sheen from the silk.   It knits to 4.5 st/in on US 7 needles, and it remained utterly unaffected by wet blocking.  I’m not sure what I will make with this yarn, but I am looking forward to using it!

Yarn: Cotton Ease in Ice Blue

Notes: I have knit a sweater from Cotton Ease before (the drops cardigan I mentioned yesterday under the 4 seasons cotton) but it was a total disaster.  The stitches were uneven and weird, and the whole thing turned out ginormous.  I was puzzled, since everyone loved cotton ease so much – why was my experience so awful?  Well, as it turns out… cotton ease grows when you wash it, and I knit the swatch for that sweater in my pre swatch washing days.  I got 4.5 st/in before washing, on US 7, and after washing it’s 4.25 st/in.  The sweater I made before, which watched at 17 st/4 in before washing, became 16 st/4 in after.  Oops.  I also think cotton ease looks better knit more tightly than the ball band recommends.  I will go down to US 6 needles when I use this.  I’m thinking of Manon from Norah Gaughan vol 1 – there are several pretty ones knit of cotton ease, and it has great stitch definition.

Yarn: Classic Elite Premiere

Notes: Is it possible for a yarn to be too soft?  This yarn is causing me to question that.  It’s so soft that it’s hard to keep even tension, although it appears to have all evened out in blocking.  It did not change size – I got 5.5 st/in on US 5 needles with no effort.  This is easily the softest yarn I have ever used, no joke – if you’re looking for an ultra soft cotton blend, this is your yarn!  I want to use this for the dayflower top – I’m sure it will have a lovely drape, as you can see in the pattern photos.  My last comment is to be careful winding this – I really question the wisdom of selling it the way that it is wound, because it doesn’t hold its shape in a centerpull ball even a little.

Yarn: Ella Rae Silkience

Notes: Blame the superbowl sunday sale at the Knit Nook… I somehow came away with 10 balls of this yarn in a lovely brown.  It knits to a little over 20 st/in on size 5 needles, before blocking the gauge was 21 st/4 inches.   It’s nice and soft to work with – in fact, I’m surprised to see it on clearance at so many stores, since it is a reasonably priced blend.  I got it for 30% off, which I was happy about.  I want to make a nice neutral cardigan, and I am thinking of several that use reverse stockinette stitch.  Reverse stockinette, in my opinion, almost always looks best in a dark color, and in a drapey yarn.  Some people say wool, but my wool sweaters are crazy uneven on the inside.  What does this one look like?

Looks fine to me – the ridge at the top is from the garter stitch.  This yarn does have a little haze from the silk, as you can see, but it isn’t as apparent in real life as in these photos.

And… that’s all.   Except for the naturlin (which isn’t too awful, but still) these are all budget friendly yarns, proving once again that it’s possible to use lovely yarns without going bankrupt!

13 thoughts on “Progress and swatches (continued)

  1. Of COURSE I live vicariously through your FOs 🙂 but the thing that stuck out here.. that really great table the Comfy Cardi is on!!! Do I see legos in there and swatches??? (YUM)

  2. Wow, I love that lush and lacy cardi!!!! Like I need one more thing in the queue, Jessica, lol.
    I’m with you on the peach…I have medium red hair, and I’ve never been able to wear peach well. My mother made me a formal dress in the 8th grade for graduation and thinking of that color (it was back when peach and teal were cool together) just gives me the blahs. I have a lot of pink undertones and I wear mauvey/berry lipstick rather than orangey/peaches. They just look better on me.

  3. That lush cardigan is AWESOME. Can’t wait to see the finished project.

    Using knots in the waste yarn to signify needle size. That’s a new tip I hadn’t heard. I like it a lot better than the eyelet trick i had used a few times.

  4. You keep saying “slow progress” but you turn out WAY more FOs than anyone I know on a regular basis. Definitely more than me! And they’re beautiful and look neat and tidy when you put them together 🙂

  5. Wow – you are the swatching queen! I rarely knit a 4″ tall swatch either, but I do need to start washing mine more consistently, as I have noticed some differences.

  6. i love your swatches! i think they are so fun and really educational.

    also, i LOVE the lush sweater. yours looks so beautiful so far, and you’ve made me want to purchase the pattern and make it as well!

  7. Love, love, love the swatching posts!

    Redheads can definitely wear peach, but the shade is important. I’m a pretty dark-skinned redhead with dark olive eyes (both thanks to my Arab father), and I look good in an orangey peach. My mom is a fair-skinned, blue-eyed redhead, and she looks good in a more pink-toned peach. That color looks beautiful and will probably be great with your coloring.

  8. That lush cardigan is beautiful. Love your color choices too!
    Thanks for the swatch advice – maybe I’ll actually start swatching now (well, maybe I should decide to make a sweater first…)

    Thanks for the continued inspiration.

  9. the lush cardigan looks so gorgeous!! and thanks for the swatching; I’ve just been checking out Valley Yarns Southwick on WEBS after your praise, and it is a yarn I would definitely get for some summery knits!

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