Monday, March 30, 2009

Baily Cardi all knitted up

Cue drum roll, please. I'm about to reveal the sweater that has consumed the last seven weeks of my life. That seven weeks is gone, but at least I've got something to show for it--a cabled delight, knit from the prize-winning fleece of an alpaca named Bailey.

Not bad for seven weeks if you consider I kept up with all my usual daily tasks, plus a little sock knitting on the side. I suppose this cardigan represents a summit in my knitting progress, one that I have worked toward for a good while. It's a sweater I have planned from the moment I found the hand-spun yarn in the A Paca Fun Farm booth at the 2007 Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. After I determined I had 1600 yards of a light-weight yarn, probably a dk weight, I eventually selected a pattern from Beyond Wool by Candace Eisner Strick. (I recommend Beyond Wool; I've knit two of the patterns and both are good.) My sweater will now join the ranks of completed projects for this pattern on Ravelry, and there will be two of them!

For a long time I thought I was going to be the first. I added the pattern to Ravelry over a year ago, and was happy to check back and discover that Maddie had posted her completed sweater. Maddie's is knit to pattern. Mine, of course, is modified.

I thought I had gauge, but I didn't. Determined to complete this project I had dreamed about for so long, I modified the stitch pattern, substituting a twist for the lace between the cables. That snugged it up, but hid a lot of fabric. This sweater will stretch out easily to about 48" wide. Relaxed, it is only 32" wide and a comfortable fit for my medium (36") frame.

I did go down a needle size for the cable portion, from a 5 to a 4 (now you know why it took 7 weeks). I wish I had thought to use a size 3 for the border. It does have peplum tendencies, but the weight of the alpaca makes it hang well when it is buttoned.

Speaking of buttons, I'm not omitting a button shot this time. I found cute little buttons at JoAnn's. They are quite shiny and hard to photograph, but I love them. I decided to use nine of them, one at each pattern repeat in the button band. That's nearly twice as many as recommended, which dresses it up a bit. Plus, I can be sure it won't gap between buttons.

The pattern included detailed instructions for the most intricate 4-stitch buttonhole I've ever seen. It had a fabulous finish, but proved to be too big for my larger-than-recommended gauge and smaller-than-recommended buttons. I made up a two-stitch buttonhole that worked well enough.

This close-up doesn't portray the sweater color very well, but it does provide a good look at the buttons.

I had thought I'd get brass buttons, then settled for a gold button embossed with small black squares, ones that I returned in an instant when I found these shiny little ones.

My button hunt added a week to the project, one that I happily filled with finishing my spring socks and starting yet another sweater--one with more, and more fancy, cables than this one! I'll be blogging about those projects soon (I've already taken the photos) and will be starting another sweater and another pair of socks.

I'm relieved to have the urge to blog again. I found that I lost interest in blogging while I was working on my lovely brown cardigan. It thoroughly satisfied my knitting interest. There is nothing better than a great yarn, a good pattern, and the time to work them up into a happy result. Now that it is done, though, I'll go back to blog chasing and vicariously viewing the projects on Ravelry.

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