Monday, October 29, 2012

Hand-spun rainbow sweater

Meet my new sweater!
 This sweater took me a while, but most of that was the spinning. I have been hearing a lot lately that peoples favorite sweaters are the cotton or acrylic store bought ones. The lightweight cardigans that can be worn to work. I think what makes those sweaters so appealing is the weight of the fabric. So often us knitters tend to make huge bulky sweaters that can only be worn in the dead of winter.

So when I got enchanted with this box of wool from Tejo-lo-que-hilo I knew that I wanted to spin the yarn fine and make a light weight cardigan. I decided to give each color an order number and split the  color roughly in half. I then spun the fiber in the same order for both bobbins of yarn. This was about 8oz of merino silk.

The idea was to create not just a striped sweater but a double striped sweater where one of the stripes would be a mixtures of both colors. This mostly worked but I did not account for is the fact that the dominant color would overpower these blending areas. I also had to break the yarn in the blue purple section to manipulate the stripes a little bit since I guess when I spun one bobbin I was spinning thinner. So what I ended up with was a two ply. I know two ply might not wear as well as three ply, but I love two ply, it made the color progression easier, and the silk content will give the yarn strength. What I ended up with was 1024 yards of a heavy fingering weight yarn.

Since I knew that another thing that makes or breaks a favorite sweater is the length, I decided to make this a long sweater. The astute of you might be able to tell that I did not use all of the purple, black and dark brown. This is mainly due to the fact that I thought using these colors in the sleeves or the front bands would over complicate the design. So I pulled out some yarn I spun this summer and knit the sleeves down from the yoke and the collar/button band in this color. It was a thinner yarn and I went down a needle size to accommodate it.

I decided on a top down raglan for this sweater and started off knitting back and forth until I joined the sweater in the round at the base of the collar.  I then steeked it after determining the center stitch and crocheting a slip stitch into every stitch vertically on either side of the center stitch. This makes a very nice edge on the inside. I used black wool and silk sock yarn to crochet with. The button band/collar is a K2P2 rib, and I increased on either side of "corner stitch" between neck and body to give the color a more rounded edge so that it would lie flat. There are no buttons or closures on this sweater because the fabric is so light I was afraid the buttons would weight the sweater down and distort it. I use a shawl pin to close it when I need to.

All in all I am pleased with it. Maybe it is sometime a little bright to wear in the conservative areas of Madrid, but it goes with everything and the colors make me so happy. All photos were taken Saturday in the Royal Botanical Gardens of Madrid where we went for a photo exposition of Trashumancia. More on that later.

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