This past week, my whole creative focus has been directed at finishing a knitting project, specifically this project. I was knitting with some yarn I had picked up a several weeks ago from the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival. This has kept me from thinking about or working on anything else creative, hence the radio silence on the blog...
The moment I saw the yarn at the festival, I was hooked (the photos don't do it justice. We've had horrible weather this week, so cloudy, and the morning sun just wasn't right - and I didn't have the patience this morning to tweak it in iPhoto to correct it so it looks like it does in person - which is a beautiful, ethereal ice blue).
I think I walked past the yarn and fondled it three times before committing to purchase it. For the longest time I've had the Katrina Ballerina Lace Layering Cardigan in my queue on Ravelry with the hope of knitting one for myself. And when I saw that yarn, I thought of that sweater, and, for me, it was a match made in heaven.
Now, one of the unusual things about the yarn was that the hang-tag on it had basically no information on it. It gave the color as Japanese Indigo (handwritten), but said nothing about yardage or weight or anything. The woman at the booth explained that it was yarn that her friend had sent off to have spun and then had hand-dyed - and that she was selling it at the booth for her friend. No info beyond that. We chatted for a while to see if we could figure out a bit more about the yarn. We had guessed that there was probably ~200 yarns on each hank. I nearly purchased only two of the three hanks that were there (because one was noticeably darker and I worried about working that into the project). But in the end I bought all three and carried them home with a smile.
Two weeks ago, I started the project with high hopes of finishing it in short order and maybe getting to wear it during the unseasonably cool weather we were having.
And then the past two weeks happened...
Not only has the weather steamed up here and my fingers were sweating while knitting - but I got to the middle point of my third ball of that amazing yarn and realized that I wasn't going to have enough to finish the sweater.
I sat on it for a few days. I took out my cooking scale, carefully placed the ball of yarn on it, wrote down the weight, then knit two rows and weighed it again. About 2 grams per row with 50 grams left would mean I had 25 rows to finish off the sweater. Given the length that I wanted the sweater to be (falling to the widest part of my hips), I knew I was off by around 10 rows.
So I had to make a decision... do I frog the whole project and find something else to knit with that yarn? Ack! I couldn't imagine it. I really wanted that sweater in THAT exact yarn. Do I make the sweater shorter than I want to accommodate the amount of yarn I have? Nah, that wouldn't work. I wasn't looking for a cropped sweater. My ample bosom wouldn't look flattering that style.
I decided my only course of action was to search my local yarn stores for a yarn that would match the one I have closely enough to make the transition to it into a design element. I hoped it wouldn't be too hard to find a yarn that was similar in color to the original, only a bit darker - that way the "weightier" dark color would be on the bottom of the sweater and it would look intentional.
My first trip to a yarn store turned up nothing. But I did learn that looks can be deceiving with colors. I would spy what I thought would be a good yarn from across the store, only to discover when I came closer and put my sweater up to it that it was TOTALLY wrong. Hmmpff.
Just a few days ago, I made the trek to another nearby yarn shop. My youngest in tow, the trip did NOT start off auspiciously. About 15 minutes before arriving, she woke up in her car-seat and proceeded to scream the rest of the way there. I wasn't going to let that deter me from my goal. I got there, took her in with me, tried to calm her down by showing her all the yarns, finally gave up and found a secluded chair in a corner, and nursed her back to peace.
Once she was fine, I found the shop owner and explained my quandary. I thought I saw her give me a bit of the eye (for getting myself into such a knitting pickle), but we then walked the store to see what she had.
And it was just by chance that I spied something I thought might work. A kinda tweedy yarn. I pulled it out and put it by the sweater and was shocked how nice it looked. Beautiful yarn. And it had a hang-tag! Whoo-hoo! It's called o-wool from the Tunney Wool Company... 50% certified organic merino and 50% certified organic cotton. Hmmm.... cotton?! My dream-yarn was 100% wool. Would this work? Mixing yarn like that? But the color was perfect (jade 3125 to be precise).
I couldn't find anything else that matched so nicely. And if I had known at the start of the project that I wasn't going to have enough wool, I would have gotten a contrasting color to use and then put a bit of that at the neckline and sleeves to tie it all together. I think it would have been easier to find a nice contrasting color. But to find a matching color - well, that was harder. I had to get this and make it work. I knew I wouldn't be so lucky as to easily find another yarn in 100% wool in a matching color.
I bough two hanks (I wasn't going to get myself into another pickle!).
I wasn't disappointed. As soon as I started to knit with it, it still looked great next to the other color, regardless of what lighting conditions I viewed it under.
I decided that to make the transition look all the more intentional, I would do some alternating rows as I worked in the new color: two rows new color, two old, two new, two old, two new, two old and then new on to the end... (that is how I worked that third, darker ball into the project, and it definitely makes it look like a design element).
So I've blocked it, picked out buttons (the mother-of-pearl ones reflect the color so nicely, I think) and have worn it a few times already. I LOVE it. But it makes me realize I don't really have any tops I can wear with it that match nicely (hence the lack of photos of me wearing it!). With the small batch of cool weather we just had, it was nice to have something to warm my core! I can totally see myself getting a ton of wear out of this sweater.
And my husband said something extra nice about it - that it has a slimming effect. I'm all over that!