Friday, April 23, 2010

At the Risk of Sounding Critical

SCS cable swatch I don't think this yarn is going to work for this pattern.

Which is by no means a judgment on the yarn. It's very nice yarn. If anything it's a judgment on my yarn substituting skills.

Let me start over.

Quick TravelingAnn history refresher
Back in 2004 I worked at the Patternwork's retail store in Center Harbor for one month. Then we moved. (I didn't know we were going to move when I took the job.)

During my month of employment I quickly stocked up on pattern, notions, and yarn at employee prices. I'm still working my way through some of the yarn I bought. Talk about an established hoard.

One of the patterns I bought was the Cabled Top with Cap Sleeves from Karabella Yarns #KK203.

At the time it was above my skill level since I hadn't worked cables. And the pattern is a little dense (even one of the other staff members who was a much more experienced knitter said she knew what it was trying to do it just wasn't explaining it well). But I knew one day I'd be able to conquer it.

Flash forward to last week and mom asks what I want for my birthday. I suddenly remember this pattern and convince her to buy me the yarn. I say I'll buy it, she can wrap it when she comes up for her visit, and I'll act surprised when I open it.

Selecting Yarn
The pattern calls for Karabella Zodiak, which is a 100% cotton yarn that we don't carry at Westport Yarns.
The trick is the pattern gives gauge as 26 sts/4" in the cable used not stockinette stitch, which always makes substituting tricky.

I swear to you when I was looking at the Karabella website last week it said Zodiak was 5.5 sts to the inch. Today it says it's 5 sts/inch, which means the yarn I selected should work.

Anyway. I decided not to go 100% cotton as it might hurt my hands and the consensus is cotton doesn't hold cables well.

Thinking I was after something DK/5.5 sts/inch weight I considered Zara. But Danni was like, "Did you just finish a Zara sweater? Do you want to make another one right away?" Which is a good point because there is so much nice yarn in the world I should expand my horizons a bit.

So I skulked around the store looking for something in the 5 to 5.5 st range that would cable nicely.

That brings us to the blue yarn in the picture.
The yarn I chose is Spud & Chloe Sweater in colorway 7510 (splash?). It is 55 percent wool and 45 percent organic cotton. The tag says it should be able to get gauge ranging from 4 to 5 sts per inch, depending on your needle.

Now that's a little outside my range when I thought I wanted 5.5 sts, but I thought it could work. And I used to think this pattern called for Aurora 8, which is worsted weight, and at least one person on Ravelry actually made this pattern in Aurora 8.

Danni wisely reminded me to buy just one ball to swatch with before committing myself.

And swatch I have. Frantically. Almost every night this week. And to no avail. I'm not getting gauge.

I wanted a 4 inch square but had 4.75 and it kept getting bigger.

In the picture I started with a US6 did US7 then US8. I worked a double wrap, drop stitch row when I transitioned from one size to the next, which are the loose rows you see. I heard that helps prevent the different sizes from pulling in on each other and causing distortions.

I thought maybe it wasn't working because the cables were all squished up. So I soaked it in cold water for 5 minutes, rung it out, the laid it on my drying rack. If anything it got bigger. And the portions worked on the bigger needles are just getting floppy and gross.

I'd like to point out I don't usually swatch to this extent and I never wash the dratted things. I swatch until I get gauge then I plunge into the knitting. Of course, I've also never been bit by something growing considerably after the first washing. As soon as that happens I'm sure I'll be much more diligent about not only knitting a swatch but washing it as well.

Although I've been trying to remind myself swatching is knitting, I was still getting pretty ticked off. Then I finally realized I wanted to be getting more stitches per inch, not fewer, and I had to go down in needle size. Don't you hate it the way that works?

So I started over from the other end of the ball with US5. I knit one pattern repeat, bound off, reeled off a considerable length of yarn, and did it again. This way I'd have before and after dunking samples.

Not that it matters because I'm still nowhere near gauge.

The yarn is just wrong for this pattern.

I think part of it is the yarn is pretty dense. You know how sometimes you grope a ball of yarn and can tell it's fairly squishy because it's got a lot of air in it giving it bulk? You can just tell you'll be able to knit it at a tight gauge. It might not be pleasant at that small gauge, but it will reach it.

Yeah, this yarn isn't like that. Its bulk is all meat. I guess it's the high cotton content.

Which is not to say it isn't a nice yarn. It's a very pleasant yarn. I bet it will make a really nice sweater.

Just not this sweater.

I'm going to make a last ditch effort and swatch on my US4 Addi Turbos. The swatch I made on the US5 is still about 4.5 inches wide, I haven't dunked it, and it's felling pretty stiff. I'm worried the US4 might tip it into the realm of cardboard.

Tonight's the night. If I don't get gauge tonight I'm starting over selecting new yarn tomorrow.

Then what will happen to my one skein of ice blue yarn? Well, I guess I'll end up with either a blue frog or a blue rabbit from the free patterns on the Spud & Chloe blog.

1 comment:

  1. Whoa! This is freaky! I just blogged about gauge and cotton yarn. I guess it's the season. I hope you work things out, yarn-wise. I love Karabella, but I don't trust the numbers they put on the labels. Never have. I think they use cross-eyed hermits to knit their samples. Just a hunch.