Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A handspun raglan sweater inspired by Elizabeth Zimmerman

Some days ago I finished my handspun sweater, and if I am allowed to say so myself, it looks amazing.

The yarn is a mixture of icelandic wool and alpaca (about 60/40) carded and blended on hand cards.  It took about 10 days to spin, despite being sick for most of them.  The yarn was the first (of what I think will be many more years to come) of my 12 days challenge, where I challenge myself to spin something epic and for myself during the 12 days of christmas (Dec 25 through Jan 5th). It's two ply yarn, spun deliberately textured (which is harder than it looks).  Between the texture and the natural colouring of the finished fabric, I think this is my most favourite sweater ever!

I used garter stitch for the cuffs, bottom edging and neckline.  You can probably notice that the sweater hasn't been blocked yet, but how can I find time to block it when I'm constantly wearing it?

I had to frog and reknit the neckline, but final result is well worth the trauma of being sent to the frog pond.

This sweater is based on Eliabeth Zimmerman's really easy to follow (and adjust) sweater recipe.  It's more a recipe than a pattern, as it starts basically, find out what gage you have, do a little bit of math, then change things as you go along if you don't like how it's turning out.  

It is knit from the bottom up.  I knit the body to the armpits, then the arms to the arm pits.  Then I joined them together.  At this point, I can decide if I want raglan, yolk, colour work, texture, all sorts of other options.  In my opinion, it's the best pattern if you are working with handspun yarn, or any yarn where yardage is uncertain.

The only thing about this sweater that I'm uncertain about is how hairy it's going to get.  I get the feeling that it's going to 'bloom' that is the more I wear and wash it, the more like an unshorn alpaca I'm going to look.

All this destashing (reducing the amount of yarn to a manageable level) I've been doing over the years, is finally at an end, I think.  I have comercial yarn for 7 sweaters in the house, which when you add handspun to it, is enough to keep me happy for at least a year.  Well hopefully a year.

This is one I found while cleaning.  According to my notes, I started it way back in 2010.  But it's a beautiful pattern by Girl from Auntie called Eris.  I knit one of these way long ago, and still wear it.  I was thrilled to discover that I had one on the go.  The yarn is by Lang yarns and called silkdream.  It's 50/50 merino silk, unplyed (single) yarn.  I like the way the yarn makes the stitches pop, it was a really good choice for this sweater - almost like I knew what I was doing.

But it's slow going.  It lives beside my bed and I knit a few stitches every night.  Literally a few stitches, like 5 or 10.  Sometimes a few rows, but mostly it's a slog.  

I've also started swatching for another sweater.  

This swatch hat (it's a gage swatch and a hat) might be the inspiration for a hoodie, if I can find a design I like.  I think I'll just use the raglan pattern above, knit the body and arms to the armpit, then decide how to finish the sweater (hoodie, steeked or not, pullover, cardigan... mixture).

As for the name of the shop, huge thank you for all your comments.

It's an ongoing process, and I'm still mulling over different options.  Nacton Farm is a great name, but for me it's this place where I live now.  There have been many great things, and many emotionally difficult things happen here, and I think when we move in a few years time, I would like to make a clean break from it.  

I've always wanted to live in a place called Nodnol.  Nodnol Farm or Nodnol Acres, or something like that.  It's a Red Dwarf thing so if you know it, you know it, if you don't, you don't.  For me, it has some really joyful memories associated with the word, but of course, it's silly if someone doesn't know the reference, so I don't think that's the name for me either.  


greenmtngirl said...

I seem to have a lot to say on this topic! If you like Nodnol Farm or Nodnol Acres, then I think you should use it. Red Dwarf fans will get the reference and be intrigued--it will bring them into your circle. Everyone else will associate the name with your products. It's not that different from "Nacton Farm" in that sense.

I think it's most important to avoid negative connotations, to make it simple & easy to remember, and to use it consistently. Much of the value of a brand comes in its use (think of Nike, Coca-Cola, or Xerox, or even in our fiber world, Skacel, Addi, Schact, etc.).

I'll wait with interest to see how this comes out! Looking forward to buying fiber and yarn from "Nodnol Acres" or whatever. :)

greenmtngirl said...

P.S. It would be great to see a photo of the sweater on you. I'm always curious about EZ raglans--they look so steep and I'm not sure they would fit around the shoulders. The first sweater I ever knitted was one of her percentage sweaters with a yoke, though, and that freed me up as a knitter incredibly.