Iris Tunic: Swatch of Green

As part of my new approach to swatches I knit a swatch that both measures gauge and explores how the yarn reacts to the lace pattern. I cast on to 10 stitches of reverse stockinette stitch, 16 for the left lace pattern, and then 5 stitches of reverse stockinette stitch to frame the lace.

The gauge is 20 stitches by 26 rows. The desired gauge is 22 stitches by 27 rows. I used a #4 needle. I think I need to switch up to #5. I don’t think the increase in size will create any gaps given the tightness of the swatch stitches.

The lace pattern came out nice. I’m somewhat tempted to skip a second swatch, just move up to the next size needle and get started on the tunic itself.
what the pattern looks like swatch
gauge for that swatch

New Project: Iris Tunic

The most interesting projects are the ones that don’t go right in some small way.  This one is starting off on a challenging foot and that makes me happy because I know it will come out more beautiful because of it.

I found the perfect yarn for the Peace Tunic by Kristen TenDyke from her book Finish Free Knits at my local yarn shop Twisted. Since it’s the Rose City Yarn Crawl this weekend I even got some swag for shopping. They only had four skeins at 200 yards each of the dark green yarn that I wanted for the project and I needed about 1,000 yards. I thought about going to a different shop tomorrow or finding another yarn there (I tried) but then I had an idea: Do the lace portion in a different color!

five skeins of yarn Final purchase: four skeins of dark green and one of dark purple. I think the purple is going to make a very nice lace inset. Plus it will be skill building as I have never done a vertical stripe before. So far I’ve found a tutorial on intarsia knitting and two on vertical stripes.

It’s really hard to capture the color of yarn in a photo so it’s hard to tell how fabulous the yarn is. Madelinetosh hand dyed superwash merino wool. The green is called “Moorland” and the purple is called “Iris”.

Adult sweaters are expensive. In preparing for this sweater I’ve done a lot of research to make sure it comes out well. By well I don’t mean knit well, I mean I really want it to look good on me when I’m done.

My research tells me that I look good in “deep winter” colors, v-neck tops that are long like tunics and dresses with empire waistlines.  I did color analysis, shape analysis and face shape analysis. Mostly by searching the internet and guessing. I also started paying attention to what I was wearing when people told me I looked “nice today.”

With the Rose City Yarn Crawl happening this weekend Twisted isn’t winding skeins into balls until Monday. It’s pretty easy to wander over in two days but it’s also pretty easy to hand wind a skein too.  I’m also impatient to begin.

A note on my links: unless it’s something really unique or wonderful I don’t link to sites that greet with a pop-up ad or invitation or join notice. I also prefer single page instruction with pictures not video. Occasionally I’ll link to video but I learn better with text and pictures I can stare at for long periods each. Most of the shops will be here in Portland, OR unless otherwise noted. I try to make my book links link to Powells, our local big book shop, and patterns link to Ravelry which is an amazing resource.

Anyway it’s time to go wind yarn so I can get started. The only other thing left to do to start this project is to come up with a name for it other than “peace” tunic. Maybe my iris tunic. It will look like two fields of iris running through the woodland green.

Stitch Definition

I was searching for a nice little project for the leftover yarn from my cowl, maybe a headband or matching cap, when I came across a phrase that suddenly made everything make sense.  “Must have good stitch definition.”  That’s it!  That’s the phrase for why the lace in my cowl is more texture than lace. The yarn I have does not have good stitch definition.

The phrase itself is very clear but I would have never thought of it myself. My excitement is partially that now I can say to others (or myself) “Does this yarn have good stitch definition? I plan on making lace.” The other half of my excitement is knowing why my cowl turned out so unlacey.

On the topic of unlacey I was perusing one of the blogs of someone who liked one of my posts and found the neatest post about swatches. Not really gauge swatches but just “get to know you” swatches. It made me realize that I should have done a lace swatch on the cowl to see how the yarn felt about the lace pattern.

Go read and enjoy a different way of looking at swatches.

Gauge: Woodland Berry Cowl

I just finished knitting the gauge square for my cowl project. I’m really pleased with how the color knits up. Plus the yarn and needle size seem to fit the pattern requirements. Next step is to unravel the gauge square so as not to waste yarn and cast on come morning.

Pinned to a canvas tote.
Pinned to a canvas tote

Vertical gauge.
vertical gauge

Horizontal gauge.
horizontal gauge

Yarn for My Cowl

I bought the yarn for my “interesting knitting project” today. It’s Malabrigo Rastita DK weight merino wool. The cowl is a free Ravelry pattern called Woodland Turtle Cowl. The color is called “Jupiter” and is part of my new attempt to wear colors that are complimentary to my skin tone next to my face. The pattern calls for 393 yards and the yarn comes in 310 yard skeins so I bought two figuring a matching hat or gloves would be really nice.

my new yarn

The Smell of Homespun in the Morning

Knitting fulfills two spaces in my creative need cabinet. One is relaxing and the other is challenging. As a result I generally keep (at least) two projects going at once. Either that or I can’t focus for long and am overly willing to drop a project that no longer interests me.  Ah, hobbies.

My relaxing project right now is a plain pair of toe-up socks. They are called toe-up socks because they are knit from the toe up to the cuff instead of in the traditional (European) manner of cuff down to toe. These socks are not lace or patterned in any way. Just knit knit knit in a circle and increase and decrease as needed. Yes, I realize that is a huge simplification of how heels are done.

I finished sewing buttons on my baby surprise jacket last night which had been my challenging project. While it too was knit back and forth with mostly just increases and decreases it still required a lot more counting and conceptualizing.

I had planned to make a cowl next but don’t own the color yarn I want the cowl to be in. I do however own a lot of beautiful homespun that my mother made me. It kicked off a pattern search and I think I’m going to do a two color knit shrug based on Lion Brand’s pattern #60082.

The first step in the new project was to wind the homespun skeins into balls. Since most of my yarn is purchased at Twisted and they are happy to wind yarn for me, I don’t own a yarn winder. I do have a thumb. Two actually, but one is specifically used as the support beam for a hand wound center-pull ball. The how-to for this is on pg 58 of The Knitter’s Life List by Gwen W Steege. To avoid disrupting my husband’s sleep in day just to have him hold a skein while I wound it, I put the open skein around my neck like a lei. The most difficult part turned out to be the kitten (who is 3 yrs old) wanting to help and then going crazy and gnawing on furniture when I wouldn’t let her near the yarn. The smell of homespun wool seems to have the same effect on her that catnip does on my older cat.

Here is a picture of my thumb as a support beam for a hand wound center-pull ball. Getting ready to make a shrug.

Creating a Center Pull Ball of Yarn