I finally knit a sweater in less than a month.
I have to admit, very little thought went into it. The idea for this sweater project came from wanting to just cast-on something easy, wearable, and would just plain bring me joy. The yarn was picked out for a different idea entirely and was just sitting waiting to be used.
It all started because I couldn't sleep one night and decided to Google "free knit sweater pattern" to see what would come up. I had an idea that I would like to have a nice collection of quality written, free patterns that I could share with my students and followers who are nervous to stretch their wings beyond most other "beginner friendly" patterns. The criteria I had was that to get on "the list", the pattern had to be easily accessible, well written, and linked directly to the original designer- no pattern hubs or rabbit holes of links from blog posts.
The Winter Bluff pattern was the second one in the search list and the first to make my Sundae Sweater list.
So what's a "Sundae Sweater"?
Well.... I decided that a good basic design was like an ice cream sundae. Vanilla is a wonder full treat on it's own when all you want is vanilla. But, most of the time we all like to add at least one topping. Are you with me? Or have I gone completely nuts?
Toppings for a "vanilla sweater" I decided should include things like changes to the stitch pattern, collar, or any changes in shaping, but would not include color changes, gauge, or slight modifications to the length. Are you catching on?
So my version of the Winter Bluff pattern turned out to be a 2-topping Sundae because I changed the stitch patter (by making the purl side be the "right side") and the collar. See? It's simple.
You can download your own free Winter Bluff pattern by visiting Ashley's website. I don't know her, she didn't ask me to do this review. It is just worth sharing.
Want to read all my notes and modifications to this pattern? Download them below! You can also watch this video on how I saved the sloppy neckline from my own loosey goosey knitting- not because the design needed saving.
My friend texted me with concern that she had done something wrong but she didn't know what.
She had tried searching knitting mistake videos, but still had no clue what was happening on her needles. So she sent me some pictures.
I knew right away what the issue was-because I myself have done this, and it is a COMMON KNITTING MISTAKE with beginners. No worries it is super simple to fix and takes only seconds. I made a video!
The Story of this yarn begins with a goat.
Gaston is a melow goat whose goal in life is to just stay out of th herd's way. If he doesn't need to fight his way through a crowd, Gaston does enjoy a crust of bread or a sweet apple from the hand of the giver. His silver locks grow long and thick all year long and while he doesn't enjoy his annual spring haircut- he does feel much better after the trim! The fleece is silky with a nice shine and is uniquely set apart from the other Pygora's in the herd.
The locks for this spin pull apart fairly easily and varied from 3 to 5 inches in length with the latter being the average. Some teasing was required before spinning as the curls are clumped up well with some slight matting at the cut end. Gaston had to adapt to several adjustments when growing this fleece since the family moved. Some of these changes did take a toll briefly on his health. We saw this in the form of lots of dander in his fleece. With a little care and tweaks in nutrition his next fleece should be in a better state as well as Gaston's overall health.
The carded fibers were brushed on a small Brother Drum Carder. Lockes were pulled apart and fed under the licker in thin layers. After the carder was full, the batt was opened up and run through the carder 2 more times. This created a light, fluffy batt that wanted to fly away. It reminded me of "Wigasus" the Granny's hair in the movie Crood's 2! We all had a good laugh over that.
The yarn was spun on my Fricke scotch-tension spinning wheel. While spinning, I watched a Craftsy classes with fiber artist and instructor Jacie Boggs. It's been awhile since I gave myself wheel time and wanted to brush up on techniques. I found during these spins that my most natural technique is a worsted draw with a backwards draft. Meaning that my fiber hand drafts the fiber back instead of the other hand pulling it out and then smoothing it back. I held the fiber in my left hand and let my right hand do the guiding and smoothing. I tried a few other techniques briefly, but always came back to this .
When it came time to make the boucle, I held the cotton thread on the left and the handspun on my right. Letting the handspun wrap loosely around the core thread, I would scruch it up towards the oriface every time the twist met where my hands held the yarn. On occasion I would scrunch at the half-way point of the twist travel, just to add a bit of variety. I didn't pay too close of attention, just getting in a rythmn and listening to the "Don't Miss This" podcast . The episdoe of this podcast was very interesting as they discussed Abraham and the Abrahamic Covenant, taking me through Genesis chapters 12 to 17 and the first two chapters of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price.
A boucle yarn needs plied over. So, using the brushed handspun I did just that. I was slightly concerned that the white cotton thread was going to show so I plied in a way that I could run the ply back and forth in an area if needed to cover the core thread. It seemed to work well.
Both Yarns were put on the swift from the spools, and figure-eight tied in four places to keep from tangling. The 2 ply yarn was full of energy and coiled up on itself quite a bit when taken off of the swift. The boucle hung nice with just a slight amount of extra twist.
The intention of this spin was to make doll hair. I have been working on a new 18 inch cloth doll and she is just waiting for her wig of hair to add some personality. The fiber that was prepped for this spin had previously been used to mop up some extra dye in another dye project. The silver-gray was dyed with light tints of pink and at times purple. Very pretty on it's own, but given the desired use of this yarn, I wanted a more natural hue that didn't lean towards "hip granny hair". The cloth doll is a cute little girl with faawn colored skin and soft eyes that have 3 blended shades of brown. She wears the expression of a sober child, content with her surroundings and curious to see what is going to happen next. I want her to have hair that matches her personality and so the yarns have gone into a brown dye bath.
Using a low emersion technique , the yarn was first placed into the pan of hot water with some vinegar. It was left to get soaked through and heated well- since I forgot what I was doing and ate some leftover spaghetti with side salad for dinner. I pulled about a half cup of the hot water out of the pan and added about a teaspoon of Rit liquid dark brown dye. I worried that maybe it was too much after it was poured back into the pan and over the yarns. Twenty to thirty minutes of soaking in the mud colored bath proved that the newly spun yarn could handle all of the dye and very little was left . A little more time and cool down brought the spa treatment to an end and the cloth baby another step closer to having hair all her own.
After a bit of a cool down, each skein went througha hot scrub and rinse with some Lemon Vermilon scented Meyer's soap. The soapy scrub was followed by a shocking cold rinse. I wasn't afraid to rough up this handspun in a way that is normally feared by wool enthusiasts. The Mohair quality of this fiber makes it resistant to felting, and since it is destined to adorn a dolls head- I want to condition it to tough love. It's important to make sure that this yarn will weather being a part of a child's best friend. We can't have it falling apart while in pursuit of unicorns or at a grand birthday ball.
The next chapter in this fiber story will entwine more with the doll's journey, where it will prove it's worthinesss to become a crown of soft curls, ready to entice all, but reward only one, to adopt the adorable handcrafted babe.