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On substitutions

Thanks for the compliments on the Shetland Triangle – I love it and can’t wait to get a chance to wear it (I do wear shawls; just yesterday I wore my Chanson en Crochet, which the girl at Starbucks claimed was “rocking.”)

I can’t bear to be without a project, so I’ve started a quick sweater project to tide me over.

Surely you must recognize this one, yes?  It’s Green Gable by zephyrstyle.  Top down and in the round, knit in worsted weight yarn (in this case Knitpicks Comfy, which is not as red as it appears here.)  I want to finish it before we go to Chicago, for no reason in particular – mostly I want an easy project after finishing two that were pretty finicky.  I’ve had this pattern forever, but I had never picked a yarn.  It calls for Cotton Fleece, which we all know I adore, but since I already have 4 cotton fleece sweater and 3 others in the queue, I wanted to use something else.  When I got comfy this week I knew it was perfect, and I cast on as soon as my shawl was finished.

One of my favorite parts of knitting is substituting yarns.  I’ll spend ages looking through the yarn database at Ravelry or at a LYS, imagining how the project in my mind will look and feel knitted up in different yarns.  In fact, I actually feel a little bit guilty if I knit a project in the recommended yarn, although occasionally I will have to have something exactly like the photo.

I have several new potential projects on my mind this week.  The first is Bianca’s Jacket, from either Winter or Fall’s IK 2006/07. 


I must confess that the photo in the magazine did nothing for me.  I don’t care for the styling, and that particular model bugged me – everything she wore in the issue looked weird and dowdy to me.  But there are some gorgeous finished ones on Ravelry, and I’ve just realized that I love the designer, Michelle Rose Orne.  I also have her Clementine Shawlette in my queue (using up some RYC Silk Wool DK that I have had for an age.)  She has a book coming out in June, which I would have already preordered if we weren’t possibly moving.  You can see a preview here.  Of course, that romantic aesthetic is totally up my alley – lucky I finally grew into the look, because I can tell you that I was totally not fitting in wearing those clothes during the days when grunge still existed.

(On a random tangent, that’s actually a funny story.  I felt like I was blending in too much in high school, and I read a book that said you should pick something as your “trademark” in order to get noticed.  I chose dressing up, and never ever wearing anything other than heels.  Lord only knows why I thought this was my ticket to popularity, but then again up until that point most of my wardrobe consisted of craft projects from girl scouts, most of which involved heavy use of puff paint and “spattering.”  I didn’t even own jeans until 2004.  Needless to say, this did not get me the positive attention I desired, but I stuck by it, and I’m proud to say that at my class reunion that’s the thing that everyone remembered about me.)

Anyway, I needed to find a yarn to substitute for the Meunch Sir Galli called for by the pattern.  At one point I actually owned a bag of that yarn, but it turns out I cannot abide the smell of raw silk (other silks are ok) so I destashed it.  It was a pretty yarn though – soft and not to drapey, with a sort of tweedy appearance.  I also noted that the smallest size in the pattern is a 35.  I need a 32, espcially in a swingy style like this, so I thought I would try a thinner yarn and knit a larger size.  I searched all over for something tweedy that wasn’t all wool.  I thought about Jo Sharp DK Tweed, but I wanted something with more drape.  My solution?

This is Sylvan Spirit by Green Mountain Spinnery, 50/50 wool and tencel.  This color is called Sterling, and it is a wondrous thing – a silver I can wear.  Silver in general makes me look kind of jaundiced, but this silver has some nice warm tones.  The yarn isn’t super soft but it’s nice.  It knits up at 5.25 st/in for me, and it has the tweedy appearance I wanted without being oppressively heavy or hard on the hands.  I haven’t done the math yet, but I’m looking forward to this knit!

That’s an example of buying yarn for a project, but what if you already have way too much yarn (um… not that I do.  Really.  I need all that sock yarn, even if I do only knit 2 pair a year.)  Ahem.  Anyway, I’m in love with Sivia Harding’s Norweigan Woods Shawl (did you know my grandparents immigrated here from Sweden by way of Norway?  It’s meant to be!)

Oh so pretty!  I want to make the scarf size (shown in the photo) because I think it’s big enough.  It uses just over one skein of Sea silk.  I don’t want to buy 2 skeins and only use a little.  I also have another Sivia Harding design in my queue, the diamond fantasy shawl.  I could make it with 1 skein of Sea silk, but I have Handmaiden Mini maiden lined up for it instead, and it has better yardage than seasilk.  So if I use the mini maiden for this shawl, I can buy 1 skein of sea silk (for the diamond fantasy) instead of two.  I’m pretty sure that I can subtract the cost of the skein I don’t buy, making the cost of knitting these two shawls free (because the mini maiden is stash, and stash never count, right?) 

Marc’s family are “math people” – Mom is a math professor, Marc has math degrees.  I feel sorry for them because they cannot seem to understand this unique “yarn math.”  Poor things.

Ooh… pretty yarn.  I’ve wanted to use the moss colorway since the first time I saw it!

On a more serious note, we took Sarah Jane into the vet this week because I noticed she was drinking a ton of water.  They tested her blood sugar, and she may have diabetes – poor kitty, as though she hasn’t had enough troubles!  She’s in good health otherwise though, and if it is diabetes it has been hopefully caught pretty early.  We’ve been giving her medication and she’s doing just fine.  I’m so glad we found her – imagine her being all alone and sick.  It breaks my heart to think of the way she was when we found her.  Here’s a picture of the first day we got her, and one from today.  What a difference in only a few weeks!


She has quite a personality, which she is currently trying to lord over my other two cats.  Relations seem to be improving, so I’m hopeful they can at least ignore each other!  We got a Feliway diffuser for the room they are together in the most often, and I do believe they have calmed down.   The problem right now is that she has latched on to me and wants to follow me everywhere, but so do the other cats.  Sarah Jane is quite spunky, and in spite of her tiny size and lack of claws is totally capable of intimidating Leon, my giant fluffy Maine Coon.  We love her, and are glad to give a home to a kitty with special needs.

14 thoughts on “On substitutions

  1. Oh you’ve got some really lovely things lined up! I’m glad you mentioned the Bianca’s Jacket….I will definitely have to look that one up on Ravelry because like you, I really hated the picture in the magazine but I can see that it has potential.
    I’m so happy to hear the new kitty is doing better and has such a wonderful home now! She is really adorable!

  2. You’re right — Bianca’s Jacket looks very unappealing in the mag, but great in the Ravelry FOs! I’ve always wanted to put some lipstick on that model, too…she just looks so washed out. 😉

  3. I’ll have to try that Crayon. I’ve got a few summer sweaters that I want to try, and my LYS is having a sale this week. Perhaps it’s time for end of the semester reward yarn.

    I’m a big fan of thinking up excuses for reward yarn.
    Glad the kitty cat is adjusting! My 17 year old, toothless, clawless cat totally rules the roost over here.

  4. First off, I love the heels story! Isn’t it funny, I always wanted to blend in… it was my goal. Anyway, I always enjoy seeing your progress and your yarn choices. You have an excellent sense of style.

    But I have to ask… Do you still stick to high heels? (I’ve refused to wear them for years myself.)

  5. Such lovely work you do! Thanks for the idea – I’ve got the same Sylvan Spirit colorway just waiting for a project. I did knit a small sweater with it last year and it was great to work with. Sarah Jane looks terrific!

  6. Sarah Jane is so beautiful! It’s hard to believe that she’s the cat in both pictures. Hope the vet visit goes better than you’d expect.

    I love how your “it’s just a little something I’m working on” represents two weeks worth of my knitting.

    Bianca’s Jacket is going to be stunning on you. Can’t wait to see it.

  7. I really enjoyed this post. It was like having coffee with a friend. I love all of your choices–and your math. When I was in college, I used to shop with a roommate who had a similar approach to spending. She felt that if you really wanted to buy a $300 coat, but only bought a $100 coat, you had saved $200 dollars and were therefore entitled to a reward. I loved shopping with her.

  8. What a great post! Sarah Jane has the most beautiful face. I’m glad she found such a great family. I have my eye on the comfy yarn, too. I already have a green gable for me, but my Mother would love a knitted present. The color is fabulous, too.

  9. Thank you so much for taking in Sarah Jane. She looks absolutely wonderful.

    And I’m so jealous, I wish I had the time to knit like you!!!

  10. Everything looks great, I want to go home and knit right now!

    I had a diabetic cat for a few years, it was very manageable with insulin shots that he didn’t even notice. I’m sure Sarah Jane will be a great buddy around the house, she’s a super cutie!

    And the high heels story is great, it really is all about the shoes.

  11. Sarah Jane looks so healthy now! I’m so happy you found her, I think she’s got a really nice home now. 🙂 Hope there’s not too much trouble between her and the other kitties, perhaps it’s some separation anxiety? Auntie BubboPants talked about it in the latest Ravelry news…

    Your future projects are so exciting! I’ve got a skein of Sea Silk lined up for the Melon scarf (Grumperina style) from VLT, but I want more of the stuff.. It’s so gorgeous!
    I agree with you about the Bianca Jacket, I was similarly turned off by the way they styled the model in the magazine. But there’s so many pretty ones on Ravelry – that’s why I love it; you can look at a pattern in a book and say “ugh!” and then see it on Ravelry and how someone used another yarn or colour, and the whole appearance changes! 🙂

  12. Sarah Jane looks like she’s doing so well! She’s lucky that someone who cares picked her up to save her.

    I don’t know what it is, but seeing your Green Gable in progress there inspired me to go out and get yarn for one of my own. It’s been in my queue for ages, but I’d kinda forgotten about it. Thanks for the reminder! I’m doing mine in Rowan Calmer. Hopefully that substitution will come out alright. 🙂

    PS – Love the story about your personal style thing. As a girl who used to dress up for school a lot, too, I personally think that’s really cool.

  13. Sara jane is really pretty
    i’m sad that she has diabete i ‘m sure she’ll get better
    Feliway worked for me also, the first days they were fighting all the time we had to put them in seperate rooms

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