Thursday, February 21, 2008

Aurora 8 & Kathmandu yarn?

I've got a couple of small batches of yarn lying about. One is Karabella Aurora 8, in a rather vibrant green. Lovely soft yarn, the very last from a sale at my lys (60% off!). I love the feel of this yarn; can hardly believe that it is wool. It knits up so easily, I can knit for hours without any pain. It does get overly twisted and I have to let it unwind after almost every row, but that's the only complaint I have so far, except that I've only got about 900 yards. At a gauge of 20 st/4", it looks pretty, cables nicely, but really isn't enough for a full length, long sleeved sweater.

I have looked at some short sleeved sweater patterns, such as Dahlia from Knitty (too young) or Delphine from Magknits (too complex) or Sunshine (long sleeved, but I could change it, since the sleeves are knit top down). They represent the practical approach. Am I interested in being practical? I suppose not, since if I were just seeking to clothe myself, I could buy a nice shirt or sweater for the money I spent on this yarn. Instead, as I've said before, I like a challenge.

I'm considering the challenge represented here by the Diminishing Cables pattern, Annie Modesitt's contribution to the Fall 2003 Interweave. While I don't like the overall look of this sweater, I am fascinated by the unconventional design. The theory behind it is to make the increases and decreases the central design element by placing them in cables rather than in the purls between the cables. I like this idea, and am hung up now on the challenge to alter the design to produce a sweater I do like.

At first glance, I thought it was the colors that I didn't like. I changed it to a black and white photo, but it made no difference. I think it might be the fit. For one thing, the sleeves are huge. See those gathers? Even the shapely model can't fill them out. I know my skinny arms won't.

I have questions about the fit in the yoke, but I'm beginning to see that the cables require a lot of stitches per inch. The pattern uses a few rows in a 'transition' pattern, combining the two colors, which I'm not crazy about either. There's nothing wrong with the concept, but I just don't like the colors together. I'll have to devise some other means of 'transition.'
Another thing is that I don't think the cables in the body add anything to the design. Instead, they fight for attention with the cables in the yoke. I swatched them for a few rows (you can see them at the bottom of the green swatch above), but switched to a simpler cable when I saw that they required a lot of effort, stitch-wise, for little effect.
I like the cables in the yoke. I've swatched them here in some Queensland Collection Kathmandu Aran tweed. This is a pleasant yarn, with a soft feel for its wool content. It is somewhat spongy, though, almost squeaking as I knit it. I was thinking it would make a nice aran sweater, but I have doubts now that I've knit a bit with it.

I have four balls of this, and tried, but can't get more of this color--it is an older color. However, it is the same gauge as the Aurora 8, and has little green flecks in it. Hmmmm?

You know what I'm thinking, don't you? Together, the Aurora and the Kathmandu might be enough to make this sweater. The big question is -- can I work out a simpler, more appealing design?

And, honestly, I wonder-- can I stand to wear these two yarns together? Also, I must admit that the fact that there are NO projects with this Diminishing Cables sweater on Ravelry, and NO mention of it in blogland is discouraging. Do I really want to knit a sweater that no one but me likes?
It wouldn't be the first time. :D

With these thoughts in mind, I've begun the sweater. The knitting goes very quickly in this yarn. (I am subbing worsted weight yarns for double-stranded, but I'm getting the same gauge.)

Here's what I've got after a couple of days of knitting:
My theory here is to link the two sections of the sweater together by using the same stitch pattern in each. I placed two cables on either side of the sweater, hoping I can join them with the two side cables in the yoke. Following the yoke pattern, I'm placing the shaping in the cables. However, since I was only able to decrease 12 stitches this way, I continued the bottom ribbing up each side to make the sweater more fitted. Mostly for my own record, here's how I did it:
Cast on 100 st. k4, p3, k4, p3, k4, p2, (k4, p3) 8 times, k4, p2, k4, p3, k4, p3, k4. Knit 10 rows in pattern, which is mostly k4, p3 rib. On row 11, change the p2 to k2, ending up with k10--this is the start of the cable. On row 12, cable 5 front on the K 10, and then change to stockinette between the p3 on either side of the cable (makes the middle straight stockinette). Continue in pattern, decreasing one stitch by p2tog on each row after you cable. The cable decreases by one each time, so that it is cable 5 over 4 front on the 10th row after the last cable, then 4 over 4 front, etc.

Continue the cables up the side, along with the ribbing, and decrease the cables to x total stitches every x row. Meaning, the next one will be a 8 stitch cable cabled every 8th row, then 7 stitches, then 6 and you cable it on the 6th row, decreasing down to 4 so that you have decreased 12 stitches total. Then you cable every 4th row three times, then start increasing until you are up to an 8 stitch cable, but you don't cable it, you bind off and decrease for the armholes, then on the last (ws) row you knit across the stockinette portion, making a purl ridge on the front. Put on holder. Make another.

Now I have a couple of options. The first one is to continue according to the pattern, using the Kathmandu yarn for the sleeve cuffs and the yoke. I'll have to decide what stitch pattern, if any, to use on the sleeves. I'm leaning toward plain stockinette at this point. If I start the sleeves and decide I don't like the mix of yarns, I think I might have enough of the green yarn to knit a short-sleeved version.

I've learned that the knitting is more interesting when there are design questions. I've spent almost as much time calculating, considering stitch patterns, and researching sweater sizing as I have knitting. Once I start knitting, though, I think about the next change I'll make and the knitting flies by!


Marjorie said...

I agree with you on the sleeves of Diminishing Cables, but I wouldn't worry too much about not finding it in blogland. I have a few complex kits (those old Rowan kits), and I can find almost no mentions of them. And it seemed that no one was knitting the entrelac sweater I made last year. Once you get into the realm of complex sweaters, you mostly find Fair Isle projects.

I also agree with you on the thrill of fixing a pattern, but every now and then (now for me), I seem to need a week or two of autopilot knitting.

It will be interesting to see how you pair up those yarns. Did you ever think of getting more Aurora * in a color to complement the green?

Kathy said...

Diminishing cables is indeed weird, with the baggy sleeves and obvious negative ease on that model. I think it would look good in a solid color with short sleeves though, maybe just a couple of inches past the yoke.

Green and gold were my high school colors; I couldn't bear to put them together again on such a large scale.