Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Travel Knitting

For the Rhinebeck trip I dutifully took two of my WIPS with me, the Project Stole and the Firestarter socks. But I also took along this yarn:



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It's been burning a hole in my stash for about a month. I picked up this lovely skein of Uruguayan, kettle dyed, merino wool from Malabrigo in the Marron Obscuro colorway during our day trip to Pattenworks last month. It has been meaning to be a dog sweater and after about five hours in the car on our way to and from Rhinebeck, it has magically turned into one:



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When fall comes back to central New England I'll get a picture of Ripley wearing it. Until then that pic will have to do.

I used the same template as the second sweater I knit Ripley, with some minor alterations. First, I reduced the CO stitches by four to compensate for how much the second sweater expanded on Ripley as he wore it. The Manos del Uruguay yarn is very similar to the Malabrigo. It is a single ply merino wool. The Manos del Uruguay varies from sport to bulky weight, where the Malabrigo is somewhere between an Aran and bulky weight throughout. So I designed this sweater with the assumption the same stretching will occur as Ripley wears it.

To this end, I didn't include the eight stitch increase on the belly portion of the sweater. This part of the second sweater began sagging considerably after several hours of wear. The final difference is the needles I used. I used size US10 dpns to cast on at the neck and then US7 dpns for the remainder of the project, with the exception of my use of an unknown size crochet hook to carry the yarn down the armhole as I began the lower body. I used either size US8 or US9 dpns to knit the second dog sweater.

This was the first time I used Malabrigo yarn and I know I'll knit with it again. Like the Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran, it was an extraordinarily smooth yarn to knit. Like knitting butter. I know I keep using that description but until I can lasso some new words to describe it better, that will have to do. It's a wonderful, wonderful yarn. A washing with Euculan gave it an even softer and more luxurious texture.

Yet between the time I purchased the yarn and caked it and the time I knit it, my perception of the yarn changed. I'm sure I loved the soft texture of the wool when I purchased it, but the following picture of the cake burned into my memory a false feeling of textural coarseness.



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There's nothing like the idea of coarseness to put me off knitting something. I think it was the haloing of the yarn cake that transfixed this sense of coarseness for me. I wonder if a texture shift happens in the minds of other knitters or fiber artists.

I can't be alone.

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