Monday, September 20, 2004
The Knitting Basket
Learning about 2-color knitting has been my goal this year. I've worked up a few small projects to get the feel of it. My biggest problem with this kind of knitting is my gauge. For some reason, my stitches get way too loose when I have two yarns in my hands. Earlier this spring, I knit a couple of hats I intended to be child-sized, and both mushroomed into football helmets. Hmmm... Something to work on.
The point with these exercises was to get good enough at two-color knitting to tackle this:
Poems of Color: Knitting in the Bohus Tradition by Wendy Keele
A year ago, I bought the kit to "The Blue Shimmer," the cardigan from the cover of the book. I bought the kit while at Stitches Midwest, a knitting feeding frenzy, and even now I'm not sure what came over me. Once it's finished, it should be an adorable 1950's angora sweater, a sweater than just begs for a poodle skirt and Oxford shoes. In the mean time, the angora yarn is difficult to work with, the needles are tiny, mistakes are impossible to fix, and the color knitting charts leave me woozy. More than once during the past year, I've taken out the kit, stitched up a lopsided swatch, and put the whole thing away in a fit of panic.
So, to build up my two-color knitting skills, I thought I should try my hand at something easier.
Lopi Sweater by Nora Gaughan from the Fall 2003 edition of Interweave Knits
The Lopi Sweater sweater makes use of the same traditional Bohus-style two-color knitting as Blue Shimmer. For those of you who don't have a stack of knitting books on your night stand, Bohus is a region in Sweden with a lively knitting tradition. Most two-color knitting uses only knit stitches. The Bohus style of two-color knitting makes use of the occasional purl stitch to add texture and a dash of unexpected color. What makes this sweater a good learning project is the fact that it's knit with much thicker yarn, so it will be a lot less stitches to contend with. It's also a pullover instead of a cardigan, and the design uses five contrasting colors instead of eight similar shades of blue.
Here's what I've got so far. Hopefully I can get to the fun color part by the end of the week.
Instead of using the Lopi yarn called for in the pattern, I picked up Lamb's Pride Worsted from my local yarn store. I've never used Lamb's Pride, but it's known to be a good basic. Reasonably priced, nothing fancy, good for beginning knitters. After this test drive, I think I'll refrain from ever using it again. I've tried plastic, metal, and bamboo needles, and the yarn still fights me. It's easy to split stitches, it snags on everything, and for no reason the stuff just pops off my needles. And I'm not even to the two-color section yet, which promises to be a real party. To make matters worse, the yarn is the scratchy kind that gives wool a bad reputation. Wearing the sweater, it will probably be so warm it will feel nuclear powered.
So what am I going to do with this "learning opportunity" once I've finished? Give it as a gift, of course! Some poor, unsuspecting family member will probably find this wooly mammoth of a sweater tucked under the tree. Heh, heh, heh. Laurie the Knitting Christmas Elf from Hell. To the future recipient: all I ask is that you take one photo wearing the sweater. Smile in the picture, wave, look happy to have a handknit sweater. Then you can hide deep, deep in your closet where it belongs.
Guess what? My sister Wendy from Rapid City has started her own blog. Read all about here.