Sunday, November 7, 2010

Epic, ASJ: Like Potato Chips

ASJ startI can't stop knitting it!

I'm totally obsessed and don't want to stop. In fact the only reason I'm blogging is because I don't want to get to far behind and one of my yarns is giving me gauge issue. (More on that later.)

Changing yarns every 10 rows was totally the right decision. I think that is part of the reason I can't put it down. Another reason, of course, is all the pretty yarn I'm using. Finally, it's a simple enough pattern.

In The Morning Light
I have to admit, I did not feel this way when I started. I lost a little momentum with the stealth knitting I had to do. This caused me to cast on the ASJ and put it aside for two days.

When I finally started knitting on Friday it was a rainy, gloomy day. We were watching TV so the living room wasn't well lit. And I was working with dark yarn and couldn't see the color changes very well.

This combined to cause me to think, "Ho hum. Miles of garter stitch. What have I gotten myself into." I knit around 20 rows, two yarns, before bed.

Saturday morning brought some weak sunshine. The pups and I trooped out to the porch to get a picture of my progress and BAM! I fell in love.
ASJ start close
Look at how well those colors go together. In the dark living room they looked the same, but in the sunlight I could see the contrast.

The sunlight also revealed the color changes in the Noro that are in addition to the color changes I'm making by switching yarn. It all became very exciting.

So in the pictures the outside edge is Noro Kogarashi. This new yarn comes in 10 colors and is a blend of 51% silk and 49% wool. I have #10—Purple, Turquoise, Hot Pink. Like most Noro yarns it has a rustic feel to the structure, which brings out the softness of the silk without out any of the crunchiness. I like soft silk yarn and I like crunchy silk yarn, so this totally works for me. Since it's the start of my Adult Surprise Jacket the rows are longer and are almost drawing each color change out in separate sections.

The second yarn is Queensland Collection Sandstone. Another new yarn, this 53% Wool 47% Acrylic blend comes in eight colors. I'm using #8—Pale Peach, Hunter. This loosely spun yarn is composed of multiple strands of (at least) three different colors plied together. In this case it's green, tan, and brown. Since all three colors are throughout the ball the color has interest and depth without abrupt changes. The yarn structure also goes a little bit thick and thin, but it leveled out nicely in my sweater. The smoothness of it was a nice contrast to the rustic Noro as I was knitting.

Racing Along
As you can see in the first picture, I was already plunging into my third ball of yarn. In fact, as I write this I'm ready to start my fifth ball already.

That isn't the best picture, I took it with my cell phone. Don't worry, I'm sure there will be more pictures before I'm done.

The third yarn, right after the green Sandstone, is Noro Kochoran in color #83—
Black, Purple, Burgandy. You might be familiar with this 50% Wool, 30% Angora, and 20% Silk blend yarn since it is already on the market. My color is one of six new colors introduced this season. It introduced a sudden bright spot to lighten up the jacket. The fuzz of the angora also livened it up with a new texture. Once again, the length of my rows brought the colors up in blocks, adding more variety to my stripes.

I like the black stripe, which I wasn't expecting, and think it and the following salt-and-pepper stripe make and interesting segue into the Queensland Collection Mist, which is the last yarn I knit. This new yarn is a 60% Wool, 40% Acrylic blend that comes in eight colors. I'm using color #2-Denim. Later in this sweater I'll be using
#7 - Soft Turquoise and I have a ball of #5 - Tropical Brights squirreled away for the top-down sweater I'm going to make in shades of red.

Anyway. Mist is another softly spun yarn with a thick and thin texture. The size variation is much more than that found in the Sandstone. In fact, working with them side by side like this, I'd call the Mist slubby. The color variation that you see is caused by two strands—a shiny one and a matte one—that both shade from white to dark blue. It's very pretty and makes me curious to see what the other colorways are going to do. Because of the greater difference in the size between the thick and thin portions, and the shortening length of my rows, there is an interesting texture to the Mist section. The thick/thin portions lined up in little parallelograms.
Happily, it's not effecting my gauge.

Change Is The Spice of Knitting?
I instituted changing yarns every tenth row in order to blend the colors a little better and not end up with sleeves a totally different color from the body of the sweater. The unforeseen benefit is the excitement this adds to the process.

Before I have a chance to even think about getting tired of a yarn it's time to change! At this point every yarn is new and interesting. As I continue and they start repeating they will remain fresh. It's totally keeping me awake.

The shaping in the pattern is helping as well. This pattern is making me realize I really like those visual clues about my progress. That is probably one of the reasons I like socks so much and get bored with scarves so quickly.

A scarf is just one endless continuation of the same pattern with little indication of how far you've come and how much further you need to go. A sock, however, has all those turns and bends. This many rows of ribbing, this length for the leg, then on to the exciting heel flap and turn, and finally coast down the gusset to the toe. Socks are just riddled with landmarks.

Well, so is the ASJ, so far. I have to decrease at each marked point until I've decreased away 80 sts total. Combined with my color changes every 10 rows it's fairly easy to track my progress. wheeee!

Check back on me in a few days when all the decreasing and increasing is done and I'm just knitting straight on the central flap. We'll see how quickly my tune has changed.

But I have to over come a little hurdle before I get there.

The next yarn in line is Elsebeth Lavold's new Silky Wool XL. I was looking forward to using this 80% Wool and 20% Silk blend since I have some of the original DK version. Also, the deep purple color, which is #11 out of 12, was going to return me to the darker shades I'd started with.

But my gauge is off. The ball band says you can get from 3.75 to 4.5 stitches per inch depending on your needle. I'm sticking with the US10 I've been using all along and got 4 sts/inch. The only reason I stopped to swatch was because the yarn felt thinner than the others I'd been using. On it's own I think the yarn at this gauge would be fine, although I personally would probably go for a little smaller gauge for a straight sweater. However, in combination with my other yarns I'm afraid it will make a thin spot in my ASJ.

If I drop it entirely I'll be down 100 yards of yarn, which could cause issues later on. Well, I guess I'd have to make the body and sleeves a little shorter. My other option is to review my other sample balls and substitute one of them in it's place. I have a Sandstone in #4—Blue, Red, which I had allocated to the top-down sweater. I could use it here instead, but it has less yardage.

Decisions, decisions. I think I'll swatch with the Silky Wool held doubled to see if I get gauge. If it works it will reduce my yardage, but it will also cause less disruption to my plans.


  1. Hi Ann,
    I love Noro yarn. I just completed a hat with scarf ties with Noro Kochoran and it's nice. I find now that I should have used a size smaller needle, though, as this yarn has quite a bit of stretch and it grows a little. I also enjoy working with patterns that switch it up a bit and keep the pattern a little more interesting to work with.

  2. you've got me totally excited about your ASJ. It's always been tempting and the method (to your madness) is intriguing. I'm going to live vicariously through your sweater for now.

  3. @Pam. You'll be pleased to know I'm knitting in my ends as I go along.
    Can't say I thought of your striped vest, but I was probably a subconscious factor. ;-)

  4. Ah! I see you fell down the ASJ hole!! I've knit three BSJs, and have yet to do the ASJ. I'm getting there though! Can't wait to see how yours comes out. Lovely Ann, truly!