Sunday, February 8, 2015

Asta on the farm

Asta Sollija in action.

I wish the two yellows were more different and that the bright blue was about two shades darker, but there is to be no more crying over that. This is a nice sweater. I like it.

Okay, not so bad. I learned a few things, which is usually the case, and I have already worn it three times since it came off the needles, so it looks like Asta is here to stay. It's a great pattern and in case you're thinking of diving into it yourself, I can tell you I made only a few small modifications--I decreased by one pattern repeat at the yoke to reduce its dimensions, and I went down about three needle sizes at the top of the yoke and neck to keep it from flaring. My best stunt here, though, is this--you can skip ahead if you don't want a lecture and lesson about gauge--I did not use the recommended yarn for this project (you've already heard my laments about that) and thus I did not get gauge, and actually I did not care to get it. I know, hear me out. I feel that pressing a particular yarn--especially if I'm trying to substitute, which I almost always do--into a specific gauge is a recipe for heartache. In my experience, trying to "get gauge" by bossing my knitting into being 5.25 sts/inch instead of the 5 sts/inch it wants to be is no end of struggle, and will probably not even work. So instead of trying to make a square peg fit a round hole, I do this: I choose the yarn I want to use, select the needles that will make a nice fabric of it, and make a swatch. I have been known to wash and block the swatch, even, if I'm feeling uncharacteristically patient. Then, I measure as accurately as possible the number of stitches I'm getting per inch. Armed with that number, I measure as accurately as possible my own self around the hips (which is where the cast on for the body ends up) and do the math: inches around me x stitches per inch in gauge swatch = number of stitches to cast on for a neat fit. I look at the size options in the pattern, and pick the closest one. In this case, simply measuring myself and choosing a size based on that would have resulted in an enormous sweater that definitely would not have fit and would definitely have been unraveled by now. I might have to get even mathier when doing this with a pattern where row gauge is critical--which is what happened with the yoke last time, for instance--but I always enjoy an interesting challenge, and it allows me to use whatever yarn I want.
Yarn. This is Fisherman's Wool in Oatmeal, with Paton's Classic in Charcoal, Plymouth Galway in 190 (bright pale blue and 764 (heathered brown), Cascade 220 (egg yolk yellow) and a [very barely] paler yellow, hand dyed by me in a turmeric exhaust bath. I used US 7, US 5, and US 3 needles.

I'm happy with it, and grateful to you all for staying my hand and making me think about it a little more before pulling the trigger on the unravel. (But you see the robots, don't you? Maybe they're more like paper dolls?)

During this snowy photo shoot (and I am really not looking for reasons) I found a reason to bring a chicken into the house. Just for a little while. She stood in front of the blowing furnace vent with her feathers a-ruffling, and just gave me a look. It's hard to explain.

Not for nothing, this is the hen we call "Nervous."