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Tuesday, November 11

Handspun Shetland Sweater...for ME!

It's finally done! And I can now update my blog. I've been getting nudges from people e-mailing me, asking me to update my blog. The last time I blogged was around my birthday in October, and I've been kind of busy since then.

I meant to blog a couple of weeks ago, but we got a new computer, and I've been getting it up and running and transferring files. Then, there was that little thing--you know--the election, that kind of got in the way! I'm really excited my guy got elected. I just hope the pile of crap the current prez left for him doesn't sidetrack the new administration too much.

And, I'm teaching a couple "learn to knit" workshops at A Stitch in Time Yarn near the Jericho/Underhill townline on Route 15 and River Road. I'm really excited that the owner Kelly has given me this opportunity to teach workshops there. I just taught three women how to knit last week. It was super fab to see them "get it" and the glow on their faces when they were "stitching" as one put it!

So, what's finally done? My handspun Shetland sweater. My extremely talented friend Joanne of Pine Ledge Studio and I visited the Maple Ridge Sheep Farm in Randolph, Vermont, oh, about ten years ago. I believe this was one of the first, if not THE first, Shetland sheep farm in the United States. I picked out three fleeces: a black with a hint of white, a lovely creamy color, and a light grayish brown--either a Musket or Mioget. You can see the wide range of Shetland colors here: Shetland Color Range.

Joanne meticulously washed and carded the fleeces for me, and even divided the carded batts into over a dozen paper grocery bags, labeled "best black", "best grey", "mixed", etc. These bags have been sitting around in "the fiber room" for years, along with pounds of roving, and other forms of fiber, waiting for me to get around to spin them. It's only been recently that I have fallen into the "use up what I have mode"--everything from a back-stock of shampoo and soap, to spinning what I have, and knitting what I have already purchased--before buying more. It's been a combination of my not working very much lately and the economy souring that has put me in this use up mentality.

Months ago I posted pics of spinning this yarn, so I'll skip that for this post. Plus, all of the pics are on the old computer and I haven't transferred them to the new one.

The Knit Game
Okay, how many times can one re-knit sleeves on a sweater? Depends on how anal you are. I re-did the sleeves three times. Really. I used a basic top-down raglan sweater pattern, but made several changes to it. I wasn't happy with the looseness/baggyness of the sleeves, and kept ripping them back to the shoulder or to the elbow until I was happy with the size and the amount of decreasing.

I did a 3x1 ribbed pattern between the shoulder sections on the top. I wanted to give the sweater more strength on the top, just in case it sagged/grew a little while wearing.

Another change I made was adding a split welt to the bottom. I wanted this sweater the drape freely, and I also am not found of the bulkiness created by having ribbing on the bottom (it also makes one look, well, heavier). I haven't blocked this yet, so the bottom rolls up a bit. This should end up flat after washing and blocking.

The other big change was the collar. I made a stand-up, fold-over collar, by knitting about 2.5 inches of shetland, doing a K2, yo, row, then a knit row, then 2.5 inches of handspun cashmere I had hanging around. I then folded it over inward, and tacked it down.

I knit this in a 1x1 rib, which made it nice and stretchy. For the V-neck section of the collar, I just crocheted one row in black, evening out the edging, which made it nice and uniform to pick up stitches for the collar. I then knit a couple rounds in black, then 4 in the grey, then single crocheted 1 row of white cashmere. I followed this up to the standup collar, creating a nice and even white edging. It might flatten out with blocking, but I don't mind the outward curl. It makes it more relaxed looking.

It fits pretty well! The only thing I'd change would be to have about 1.5 inches less in the underarm. The pattern called for 4 more inches than what I had, and it was too baggy. The spinning is light and lofty, and will be a very warm sweater! I tried it on with just a t-shirt to take the pics, and it was not very itchy at all! The cool thing about it is each one of the different fleeces yielded a different hand (feel) to it! The white is the softest, the greyish is closer to the white in softness, and the black is the "roughest" but I use that term loosely.

I'm pretty psyched that I finally have a handspun sweater for ME! J has 2, plus a vest, so I thought it was my turn to get one!

Thanks for visiting my blog!


Shell said...

Wow, that sweater turned out great. I am impressed, as I keep meaning to spin and knit a sweater for me sometimes.
Great Job!

mehitabel said...

Excellent work! And how nice that you know the history of the yarn, right down to the sheep themselves! As for the "use it up" mentality, well, over here it's kind of "use it or lose it" since I'm purging a lot of my older or less desirable yarns. And other supplies, too. I may never have to buy another cleaning product!

Geek Knitter said...

Good to see you blogging again. Your sweater is fabulous!

Nan said...

The sweater is beautiful, Chris. Lovely yarn and lovely workmanship. As soon as I finish a few WIPs, I'm going to make myself a sweater for a change. I'm inspired.

vanessa said...

your sweater is gorgeous! how exciting to do the whole process.

Kyle Kunnecke said...

beautiful as usual... I'm glad you finally treated yourself to a sweater!

we missed you last weekend at the Men's Knitting Retreat in San Francisco... :(

Marianne said...

What a fabulous sweater and so happy to hear it's for YOU! I really enjoyed reading about the history of the fibre.
I hear you on the 'using it up', I knew there was a good reason to box all that 'stuff' up and move it when we moved last year (as opposed to tossing it all out). I've also started making my own laundry soap for a whole lot less money :^)

yarnpiggy said...

Beautiful -- from sheep to finished sweater. Great job, and very inspiring -- I've yet to learn to spin, or knit a sweater. :-)

PS: I added a pin to your map, but it doesn't like Piggy's avatar...

Alpaca Granny said...

Yea! You're back.....
Your sweater is lovely, Chris. And good for you for making something for yourself.

JACK said...

Um - ok, so I TOTALLY want one of those sweaters now. And my form of "spinning" does not a sweater yield. dammit! What to do!!!!!

(btw, you should totally go with a black V-neck or wife beater under that thing ... would look poi-fect!)

Craig Curtis said...

Well, this is TOTALLY off topic, but I really liked your post on Derek's blog. I agree COMPLETELY and thought it thoughtfully written.


Karen said...

It's beautiful Chris! You're so good to knit things for J -- I have one vest for Dan, and 2 sweaters and several pairs of socks for me! Usually because I tend to make things up and I don't know if they'll work out or not. But so far so good!

Chris Tolomei aka alicethelma said...

Nice job Chris! The colors are great.