Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Das Wetter Ist Grau

Heute, Ich trage meine Strickjacke. It was wet and grey morning. The weather is finally cooling off, but it still doesn't feel like fall. A woman in the coffee shop line described it as a dreary London day.

On a similar day last fall I found some treasure among the stoop sale trophies and garbage. On a table I spotted three skeins of a discontinued yarn: Classic Elite, "Waterspun". As yarns come and go, this was one that I liked a lot — felted, single-ply, and as cool and grey the day. A woman with a blue fanny pack said "I have more stuff." "How much do you want for the yarn?" "You knit?" "Yep" I replied. She put out her cigarette and said "Wait here, I have more." She returned with a small kitchen garbage bag full of yarn. "15 skeens for $15 bucks. I just want this out of my apartment." She went on to tell me that four years ago she was going to make a sweater for a man with whom she was involved. But before she could get started it all ended. I asked if she would throw in the small table $20. "Get outta here!" she cracked.

What to make? Something Elizabeth Zimmerman would've made. This is my friend Tyler wearing my grey turtleneck. Doug Todd took these photos at Freddy's Bar here in Brooklyn. This sweater is knit down on #4 SPN in Shaker Stitch rib. This is a great sculptural stitch for single color knitting.

The Shaker Stitch uses 30% more yarn than a normal rib. It's deep, spongy, and very warm. One thing I also found about this yarn is that it shrank down to about 90 to 95% after washing and blocking. I assumed incorrectly that felted yarn was shrink-proof, so I didn't make a full swatch test. It looks about right on Tyler, but it makes me look like a grey bald-headed sausage.

I started this sweater by knitting the left sleeve, casting on from the center of the back knitting the cuff. For the right sleeve I picked up from the left sleeves cast-on knitting in mirrored manner. The cleave on the back makes a nice whale tail in the middle. For the lower back I picked up stitches from the selvage and knit down.

Now the Front, I picked up stitches from the selvages for the left and right shoulder straps. First I knit the left shoulder down and stopped at the throat of the neck holding the stitches open. Then I picked up stitches from the right shoulder knitting to the same length as the left. I cast-on more stitches across the throat, picked up the open stitches from the left side and continued to knit down. All open seams were sewn. Now the collar: I picked up stitches from the neck area and knit upwards. The collar is 9" long, it makes a generous turn when folded down. Instead of binding-off loosely I knit an I-cord with #9 needles. I trimmed the cuffs and the bottom of the sweater with an I-cord as well.

This sweater has substance. I like the way the lines in this sweater travel in opposing directions, but marry on the back. It's pretty solid but it has a very clean drape, especially around the arms and elbows. The down side is that the yarn pills quite a bit, it must be made from shorter fibers, that were fused with heat. But I just pick off the stuff.

Tyler is a jazz bassist. His wife Trina plays carnatic classical violin. I play(ed) an accordion in an indy-rock band that was popular in New Zealand. Or were we a pre-emo boy band that got college radio play in Australia?

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