Friday, February 22, 2008


I have done almost no knitting this week. Horrors!
Things have been a bit crazy, to say the least. So, what have I gotten done?

We picked a main color pattern for the hybrid sweater. Since it's going to be cably on the body, we picked a cably color pattern. It will be pretty minimal; just around the cuffs and the hem of the body. Branden found a very cool chart-making program, and charted up the two directions of the cable, and the transition for the back center.

Then, we needed to pick an overall color pattern for the sleeves. As I said before, I wanted something really subtle. Still, I was surprised when I started swatching at just how subtle the color difference is in some lights. It is really obvious in the camera flash light, but sunlight makes it almost impossible to see. I was originally thinking of doing a pretty sparse pattern of the dark color, but it just didn't show up enough, so I started playing with groups of at least two stitches together.

Branden really wanted me to try little blocks, so I tried little blocks. I'm not a big fan. Little diamonds don't show up very well, and neither of us liked them much anyway. We did like the V's (just below the blocks in the picture), but Branden likes them a little more spread out, so I tried them again at the top. I'm thinking that we'll do stripes of V's for now, and I may add other things is as I begin the sleeves; we'll see how things go.

This is my first time doing colorwork, really. I did a little bit of intarsia on my first sweater, but it was pretty small and I definitely didn't work very efficiently, dropping one yarn to pick up the other each time. I wanted to give colorwork another try, and this time I wanted to hold the yarn the "right" way, to make my life easier. So, I've been experimenting with different ways of holding yarns of different colors. I've heard people rave about the two-hand method, so I started with that. I'm not a huge fan. There's something about throwing with my right hand that just really slows me down; I can't seem to make it efficient. I did about 3/4 of the swatch two-handed, so I think I gave myself time to at least sort of get the hang of it. I didn't hate it, but it's not my favorite method. Once, when I picked up the swatch to knit, I instinctually grabbed both yarns in my left hand and started working that way. Muuuuch better. I can keep track of both yarns in my left hand, and I get to keep my speed, too.

I've also wanted to try knitting backwards for a while (knitting stitches off of the right needle onto the left one). I've heard about it, and I've always thought it would be fun to try. In fact, I even tried it for one repeat of the Irtfa'a edging, because the rows were only 8-16 stitches long and I was sick of flipping it over every few stitches. Then I came to my senses and realized that it was very, very stupid to try learning a completely new stitch technique while working a complicated lace that I wanted to look nice. So, I shelved it until Irtfa'a was done. The swatch, however, has provided the perfect opportunity to knit backwards. Since it's flat, I would have to purl back if I were knitting normally, which involves reversing the color pattern in my head as I go. This isn't a big deal, but knitting backwards lets me keep the knit side facing me all the time. So, I gave it a try.

...and ended up with stitches that looked more like herringbone than stockinette. Yet again, my preference for plaited knit stitches made things a little harder than they probably had to be. It was perfectly intuitive for me to knit plain stitches backwards. I just don't like doing them forwards. So, every row I would knit forwards and add and extra twist, and then knit backwards and not compensate for it. This gave me the herringbone look. It took me almost an hour to figure out exactly how to hold two needles and two strings the right way for making plaited stitches backwards. I'm not sure why it took so long, but it did. Now, though, I can fly through it. I had a few issues with tension at first, but they're now largely resolved. Can you tell which rows were done forwards and which back? I can't...

So, it may not look like much, but this swatch represents at least a little bit of knitting learning. I figured out the knitting with two yarns thing, and the knitting backwards, and may have managed to choose a pattern for the sweater arms. Not bad, I guess. And, look at the back!

I'm so proud of my tension. I have no idea how it came out this well. I didn't really pay any attention to it, but it looks about a million times better than I expected, and it doesn't pull at all in the later work. Who'd have thought I could get this much better at colorwork in the past year without even doing any?