Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cables, with a Dash of Intarsia

Last week, we experienced a sudden wave of warmth where I live. The snow was melting, the ice was breaking, and we were savouring the warm, mushy mess. Thoughts of spring started floating through my head: Should I get my corn started? Should I plant potatoes this year? If I grow herbs, will it look like I'm growing pot in my back yard?

And then, Friday hit, and we were plunged painfully head-first back into winter: snow, cold... yeah. I forgot that it is still technically January. I thought of my parents and my brother, who are currently frolicking about in the Philippines, then I sniffed, and sat down on my couch and did some work on my new project.

I've been holding on to this yarn since last year. It's a discontinued yarn from Elsebeth Lavold, a wool and angora blend that I purchased during my last visit to Canmore. I've never knitted with angora before, and so far, I've been impressed with the luxurious soft texture.

When I first saw this yarn, I decided to clear out all that was left in the shop, since it was being discontinued, and ended up with eight skeins of Light Olive and one skein of Bronzed Green. I knew I wanted to work with them together, but I wasn't sure exactly how that was going to work.

Last week, I started to seriously think about what I was going to do with this yarn. I knew I wanted cables. I knew I wanted to make that darker green a feature of the finished work. I pictured a dark stripe down the middle... that would require math.

I've been good at math since high school, so I relished in the calculations. Nine skeins in total, one dark, the rest light. That means that, if I wanted to make a stripe down the middle, I'd need to make sure that the dark yarn was used for one ninth of the entire stitch count. That meant that, if I wanted to work cables on each side of this stripe, I'd have to find ones that would equal eight ninths of the stitch count... or around about that. I found a couple of cable patterns that, when mirrored, made 86 stitches, plus 10 stitches for the central stripe which I would work in a simple cable... that made 96 stitches... that means I could make the stripe down the middle and use the leftover green to make a border on each end...

Anyway, math aside, I did some cutting and pasting of cable charts I found on Ravelry (I thought about writing it out myself, but I'm not THAT ambitious), and I finally cast on for a cabled scarf, with a stripe of dark green cable down the middle, knit in using intarsia. Intarsia knitting is where you knit with two colours in large blocks (more than a couple of stitches wide) and is achieved by twisting the yarns together whenever you change colours. I've been working slowly through the first couple of repeats, and here's what I'm learning:
  • This yarn sheds like crazy.
  • Bobbles are very satisfying to knit, all knobbly and round.
  • There's no way I can work on this at work. Each row is taking me ages.
  • All these cables are making my hands ache.
If it all works out (and my math is right), it should be a pretty impressive project. I already had to bail out of one of the cables within the first inch, but so far, so good. I'm knitting this project on 4.0mm (correction: 4.5mm) needles, which I'm hoping will help to give definition to the cables through the fuzziness of the yarn, but it also means that it's a tough, tight knit, which makes my thumbs ache.

How's that for a cable chart, eh? Note that it says "Top" at the top of the chart. That's because I spent half an hour swearing and cursing at it, trying to match the chart to the chart legends I printed out, only to discover I had the darn thing upside-down. It's been that kind of week.

I'm also a bit anxious to try to get more spinning in. I didn't spin at all last week, but I think I might take my spinning into work to do during lunch hour, since this project is not really portable. My friend Tara showed me some gorgeous yarn she has been spinning on her wheel, which is spurring me on to try to spin something useful myself... In fact, seeing her with all her luscious yarn is making me wonder if I want a spinning wheel myself, but I am reluctant. Maybe once I get through all yarn that is overflowing in my basket, I can feel good about diving into that... maybe...

It's kind of a battle for me right now: spinning vs. knitting. Most people who read this blog regularly know that I hate having unfinished projects lying around. Having a spindle lying around with less than half the roving spun on it is driving me crazy. I don't want to leave my knitting projects, but I don't want to get out of practice with my spindle. Darn it... if I could just get paid to do those things...

In the meantime, I decided today to try to fix a coat that was given to my little Rascal for Christmas that doesn't quite fit him. He is rather... ahem... too stout for it. I added a bit of garter to the edges, and voila:

Lumberjack puppy. Note the squeaky toy in my yarn basket. That dog owns everything in this house.

Anyway, onwards and upwards. If there's a positive thing about this cold snap, it is justifying the purchase of the yarn I got in L.A., which is all pegged for scarves and hats and wraps. Maybe it's a good thing I live in a cold climate.

Bah, who am I kidding? I'd knit them no matter where I lived!


Anonymous said...

Wow, that is an ambitious project! I am sending you all my math from now on. - Linette
P.S. Cold is relative. My cousin (a Winnipeger) was posted in Hawaii when she was in the army. After living there a couple of years, she complained to her mom that it was "cold" and put on a sweatshirt. It was 20 degrees and my aunt was in shorts.
So yes, you'd knit them anyway. :)

AdrieneJ said...

@Linette: Yes, rather ambitious, but I think I'm getting into the groove of the cables. I managed to finish the repeat while watching a movie tonight!

penney said...

Your knitting is beautiful I love that pattern.,I hope some day I can do those stitches as well.

AdrieneJ said...

@penney: Thanks! I'm sure you'll be doing those stitches soon! If you can knit and purl, then you're almost there. You just need a cable needle, and then you're set!

Mel C. said...

I hope you're ambitious enough to write up the pattern/charts and sell it on Ravelry? I would definitely make it!

AdrieneJ said...

@Mel C.: I got the charts from a free pattern. I just rearranged them into something I liked. I think I still have it if you want a copy of the chart.