Sunday, October 5, 2008

Planning. What a Concept!

It may have been said before, I have a tendency to leap before looking. It gets me in trouble and often I have second thoughts about my choices. Fighting that urge this time, I am trying a new approach.

There's a sweater I want to make for myself and it's a big project. More like a coat, with cables, and complicated yokes, this one is a commitment. Big time commitment. It seems like a commitment of this magnitude deserves some advance planning. The pattern comes from Vogue Knitting International, Fall 2008, designed by Deborah Newton. These are lousy shots, but it's the best I could muster.

Cable Yoke Cardigan

Cable Yoke Cardigan

First thoughts turn to what yarn to use. The last couple of weeks, I've been simmering on this one and made some decisions thus setting a direction:

1. First off, this pattern should not be knit in a variegated yarn! It needs to be a solid color to show off the incredible cables.

2. The color should be neutral enough to make it wearable with many things, especially to work. But not boring or bland.

3. The yarn needs to be worsted weight because that's what the pattern calls for. Worsted weight is a very wide spectrum. To narrow it down, I decided I want it to have some body and heft. That means it can't be too soft or limp. Which pretty much means I am sticking with wool, not Alpaca, Mohair, Silk or any blends of these. Fine by me there are plenty of them out there.

4. I want good stitch definition. This coat has lots of interesting cables and they need to pop.

5. I don't want fuzziness, or piling, or any sort of shabiness to show after two wearings. This means the yarn needs to have a good twist to it. So no singles allowed. Sorry, Malabrigo, not this time.

6. The yarn needs to be economical! The skeins should have good yardage and either be on sale or come at a good price. The project calls for lots of yards and I don't want to spend $400 on yarn!

Well. That seems like a good list of requirements. With these things in mind, I went Internet shopping and came up with these candidates.

Assortment to test Cable Sweater pattern

On the left, starting from the top:
1. Plymouth Yarns, Encore. Pretty gray but it's mostly acrylic so unlikely I will select it for this project. Good possibility for kid knitting in the future, though.

2. Ella Rae Classic in two colors - curry and light gray. Nice twist, good yardage, on sale right now at Webs. Not sure about the colors, especially the gray, but will swatch to see how it looks.

On the right, in a line:
3. Cascade 220 in three colors: Sparrow #4011, Silver Gray, #8401, Straw, #4010. All good colors, the Sparrow and Straw being the most intriguing. Good yardage, not on sale right now but will be in April. If I wait that long.

Next step is to swatch them all. Big swatches, using some of the cables from the pattern. On different size needles, to see how the fabric drapes and to measure gauge. I will wash and block all the swatches to see how the yarn changes - does it bloom? does it soften and get limp? Will it hold up to the pattern? I will carry the swatches around to see how they wear!

This could take months! Plenty of time to get distracted by all the other wonderful things to knit. Plenty of time to get bored or discouraged or frustrated or disgusted with the inevitable mistakes and frogging and delays. Or, I could decide I really need a good coat like sweater and get cracking as soon as possible. Only time will tell.

I plan to use this blog as a way to chart my progress on this one. So the first question I have for you, dear readers: do any of the yarns above strike your fancy? Tell me which one you like best. Or if you have any suggestions that meet my list of requirements, have at it! I'd love to hear from ya.


Katie M. said...

An admirable quest! I look forward to reading all about your swatching adventures. (And wishing I had such fortitude and foresight.) The gold colors are my favorites -- with a slight preference for the Cascade 220 shade.

Anonymous said...

You might want to check out Look in the Sneak Peeks.
On Oct 21 at 9 in the morning Pacific time they are going to be having a sale of Filtes King Extra 100 percent Australian Merino at only 2.15 for 99 yards. I ordered some of the DK weight last week and it is incredible. Really tight twist and sproingy. Looks like they have some colors you might like as well. You have to be quick though as it usually sells out in about 20 minutes. Oh, it is Aran weight, but you can probably make it work.

By the way, enjoy your blog. You do nice work and have great pictures.


At Home Mommy Knits said...

Good luck with the sweater! I have been queuing sweater/cardigans up like crazy lately and just can't seem to commit. Love the Vogue one so I'll be curious to see what you think as you knit it up!

The A.D.D. Knitter said...

Why have I not been seeing your blog update? Bloglines any case, I have some Ella Rae Classic all set for the FLS!!