Sunday, July 7, 2013

Options

When I wrote up the directions for Harriet's Jacket, I wanted to give knitters yarn options. It's a pattern that lends itself well to different types of yarns, and knitters have different yarn preferences and price points for sweater knitting. Indeed, cost is one of the things that, I think, holds many knitters back from knitting larger projects.
First off, Harriet's gauge--4 sts per inch in stocking stitch--is a bit of an oddity. It's a fairly common gauge in the U.S., but weird here in Canada, where it falls between aran (at 4 1/2 stitches per inch) and chunky (at 3 3/4 stitches per inch).
The prototype, which led me to decide to reduce underarm bulk in the final version, was knitted in Peace Fleece's Worsted in "Siberian Midnight. 


This is a merino/mohair not far removed from the sheep, and not for those who expect complete comfort next to the skin. Expect to pick a little VM (vegetable matter, i.e. hay) out of the wool as you go. On the plus side, it's super warm, produces a beautiful halo (and next to no pilling) after washing, and comes in the most gorgeous colours imaginable. Check out "Lauren's Coral", for instance. Yummy, isn't it?

                            

Peace Fleece is difficult, if not impossible to find, at retailers in Canada. You can mail order it from Camilla Valley Farm, or do as I did and order it directly. Note that I needed to use a 5 mm needle to get gauge. I was surprised by this. It shows the importance of checking your tension.
Speaking of that, if you've purchased the pattern, you'll notice that I suggest knitting the 4"-deep cuff as a swatch. If you get the garter stitch gauge (4 RIDGES and 4 sts per inch), you'll be fine and can proceed. It's a nice shortcut.
The second version of Harriet, the one you see being modelled by Isabel, is made up in Elann.com's Peruvian Highland Chunky. This is a lightly spun chunky wool for which I needed to use a 5.5 mm needle to get the required gauge. This is an inexpensive but nice quality wool that comes in pretty heathered tones like "Tranquil Lagoon", the colour for my own Harriet, shown here.


The blue-grey has subtle red undertones which I would have liked to highlight with dark burgundy buttons, but alas, none were to be found---yet.
The third yarn I've suggested for Harriet is Briar Rose Fiber's Sonoma. This is precious hand-dyed wool at its best. The hardest part is choosing a colourway. I recommend something tone-on-tone rather than one that combines more than one basic colour. Here's what I've started.


It's #12370, a sort of olive green colourway, quite outside my usual comfort zone. I'd like to do a KAL with this yarn in August, so if you think you'd be interested, let me know on Ravelry in time to get organized.
Of course, there are lots of other great yarn choices for Harriet. Green Mountain Spinnery's "Green Mountain Green" can work at the called-for gauge, as can Cascade Eco+. See? There's so much room to manoeuvre here!
The one thing all these yarns have in common is that they are all non-superwash, all animal fibre, and all suitable for spit-splicing to reduce weaving in at the end. These are my personal preferences. Experiment and play around. That's what makes knitting so great.
Now, a quick garden update. Here's our front with roses and clematis in full bloom.






















Finally, I've had an e-mail from Carolyn Barnett, who did the driving to Almonte last week, with a link to her blog post about the trip. It's much more polished than mine, and you can see me actually spinning for the first time. Whee!

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