This week in my Year of Making, I worked on a few projects, including a new salad recipe, a bit of spinning, Gansey sweater planning and knitting on the v-neck sweater from last week. I also did plenty of un-pictured cooking which may become recipe posts later on, but I am still working out a few issues with measurements and photography.
I suppose we'll start with the salad. We were invited to a friends home for dinner with their family, and we were asked to bring a salad to go along with chicken enchiladas. I couldn't really think of anything to go along with that, except for a nice fresh salsa, so I went with it, and topped my favorite greens with a mango salsa. I had a bit of the salad for lunch today, and it is just perfect to go along with nice warm enchiladas on a cold winter day. I could also see it being a perfect pairing with a grilled steak this summer. There is a recipe forthcoming, so keep your eyes open for more details soon.
Next up, a progress report on the navy blue v-neck sweater. I finished both front panels, and I started to work on the back. I am just a couple of inches from the back neck shaping , and then I can seam the shoulders and have a proper try-on session. From the try-ons I've done along the way, it is turning out just as planned.
I am deliberately slowing down on this project because I am pretty sure that I am short on yarn. I bought this yarn a year or two ago with a color work blanket in mind, and then decided that yarn this beautiful needed to become a great sweater, so I've requested another skein from the folks at Anzula, and I am waiting for it to arrive. I want to be sure to save at least one skein from the current dye lot so that I can blend the old with the new.
I brought out my spinning wheel this week and finished spinning the singles and plied this yarn. It is about 140 grams of what I would say is a DK weight alpaca/bamboo blend that I bought from a Missouri farmer at the MOPACA show back in 2013.
I started spinning this nearly two years ago, on the day I bought it. It was put up in 2oz batches, and the first 2 ounces went quickly. Then I put the wheel away for a while, and got it back out last year. I managed to get another 3 ounces or so spun. I was originally thinking I would make a two ply yarn, so I divided the fiber in half and spun it on two bobbins. With less than 2 ounces to go, I put the wheel away again.
If you click the MOPACA link above, you'll see that the alpacas are going to be in Kansas City in late March. I have a trip planned, and yarn buying plans. I thought about it, and decided that I needed to finish the purchase from two years ago before I could add to my stash, in any way. So, the wheel came back out, and I spun the last bit into singles. I then decided to navajo ply the singles into a nice 3 ply. One small amount broke off in the plying process, and I really didn't know how to handle that, so I deemed that bit the "swatching skein" and wound it into a ball.
I really thought that I wanted this to be a worsted weight, so I knit a nice big swatch on size 9 (5.5 mm) needles, just like the pattern I wanted to make called for. With alpaca, I think there are two ways to knit it: nice and loose so that when it loses its memory and gets drapey, it isn't a surprise, or nice and tight to try to counteract some of that stretchy, drape. I was thinking that this would be okay knit loosely, but after blocking, it really didn't bloom enough to fill in the fabric.
I sort of thought this might be the case, so I saved a little of the swatching yarn, and knit up a tiny swatch on size 5 (3.75 mm) needles. I think this is much better actually, but I don't really have a pattern in mind for this gauge. Actually, I haven't measured gauge on either swatch (I think the large needle fabric is about 4 sts to the inch, and the smaller is about 5 sts to the inch.), but I am having trouble deciding what to make. A hat would have too much left over, but I am not sure I have quite enough for a nice pair of mittens. I suppose I'll keep thinking on it, since the rule was that this wool needed to be something before I could buy more, and it is something: yarn.
In the mail this week, I received a copy of Dutch Traditional Ganseys, that I had ordered from Schoolhouse Press. In my plans for fall sweater releases, I wanted to find a way to incorporate a Gansey sweater, but I was having trouble figuring out how to make the look flattering for a woman with some curves. The typical design includes patterned stitches that cover the upper chest, but stop at about the point where a woman's bust ends, plus a high crew neck, neither of which I find all that flattering to my curves. So, with this book I have discovered that the Dutch knitters took the typical Gansey construction and modified it according to their thoughts about fit, style, and preferences. I am still thinking of ways that I can work with this traditional shape and make it work with my vision.
I am really enjoying this book, reading through the history, and making notes about the stitch patterns. That said, the 60 patterns advertised on the cover would be challenging for inexperienced knitters to achieve, since the style they are written in is not very beginner friendly. Experienced sweater knitters, devotees of Elizabeth Zimmerman, and those that are used to modifying patterns would be able to work the patterns easily, and probably would think it was a lot of fun, but this is not a collection of patterns for newer sweater knitters.
The book is loaded with historical information about Dutch fishermen and their culture, including their sweaters, has stitch patterns galore, and detailed information about the yarn used in the traditional sweaters. I definitely am glad to have it in my collection, and certainly would recommend that you take a look at it, if you are interested in working on your own gansey.
What have you been working on this week? Do you have ideas for my handspun yarn?