Wednesday, July 09, 2014

If I was a flower growing wild and free all I'd want is you to be my sweet honey bee...

I seem to be getting rather theme orientated lately and this week's post is no exception, as will soon become apparent...bear with me.

First things first - there was a slight detour from the Year of Sweaters by Season project.

Instead of casting on my Spring sweater (a light and lacy little cropped cardigan in fingering weight alpaca), I decided to make a Beeline in some lovely fuzzy Creative Focus, and it has barely been off my back, so comfortable and warm that it is.  Warmth being the key word, given how freezing it's been in Melbourne this past week!

This was another great pattern from Heidi Kirrmaier, backing up after my Peasy.  Her attention to detail is spot on, not only in her pattern writing but also in her design aesthetic.  There's the lovely eyelet detail on the raglan increases that is also echoed in the bias line mirroring both sides of the front.  The neckline has just the right amount of scoop, and the slightly tapered body means it's roomy without looking oversized.   Very flattering and very wearable, on a number of body shapes.

Mostly I knit this to pattern, using the M2/42" size.  There's 5-10cm of intended positive ease, and I think that's the exact right amount in my finished piece.  I did add a bit of length to the body, about 5cm in total.  At the recommended length it was sitting right on a point of my waist that I know I don't like, from previous experience. It makes me feel like I've got to keep tugging at the hemline!  I also shortened the sleeves just a smidge, apparently I'm short-armed!

As for the yarn, I really did um and ahh on whether this was the right choice for the project.  There are mixed reports and reviews all over Ravelry and other forums, none really that flattering in honesty, but the colour (Golden Heather for those interested) was exactly what I wanted and I really wanted to try for myself; to make my own judgements.

I'm so glad I did!  Yes, this yarn sheds, and it has a splitty tendency; two of the main complaints against it.  It's a very loosely plied wool/alpaca blend, so neither of those statements are really that surprising.  I didn't find the splittiness as annoying as others, although I did need to pay attention.  A couple of times I had to drop down and fix a split stitch, but that wasn't a lot, or a huge inconvenience. The benefit of the yarn's blend is that there is a lovely halo of long fibres on the finished fabric, and that was part of my intent.  I wanted a slightly retro feel to this jumper, almost like the mohair jumpers of the 50's and 60's.

The other common complaint was that for an alpaca blend, this yarn was super-itchy.  I'm actually quite sensitive to wool-itch, and normally can't wear even blends next to my skin, but this jumper has surprised me in being one of the softest, non-itchy jumpers I've ever made.  I can comfortably wear it next to bare skin, even up around my neck, where I'm usually the most sensitive.  So go figure.  Whether it's the particular tension I've knitted to, I don't know.  But no issues with itch, from the Princess of Itch.  That's a win in my book.

Also, I’m shocked at how little yarn was needed, which seems to be a trend for me this year (possibly due to knitting everything in alpaca blends?). This took exactly 5x 100g balls of Rowan Creative Focus and that's good value in any language, for a jumper of this style.
Overall, a very happy detour was my sweet Beeline, and very happy I decided to see for myself about the yarn.
There was another little project I finished this week - some Honey Badger socks.  Like the Beeline, I used some yarn that I've been wanting to try for a while - Ella Rae Laceweight merino.  Despite the name, this yarn is actually a fingering weight 100% merino, not a laceweight, lest you think I've lost my mind and forayed into knitting laceweight socks!

I've had this skein of hand-dyed in my stash for a few months, having originally purchased it with the intent of making a small shawl of some type, however I had begun to think it wasn't really a colour I'd wear as a shawl.  Being 100% merino, it's probably not the best choice for socks, but I have compared it to Jitterbug and it has a similar high twist so I'm thinking it may be alright?  I'll probably save these for house socks and keep them away from my boots though, just in case.

Upon knitting, this yarn is a bit softer than Jitterbug, but it does the same lovely crisp stitch definition, highlighted by this pattern which utilises a PSSO as part of the lace pattern.  Honey Badger is a free Ravelry download from Irish Girlie Knits, and is very well written for a freebie.  The lace pattern is very addictive so it goes rather quickly too.  These took me just two weeks of not very consistent knitting to complete.  

Aside from some inconsistent pooling between each sock (what's up with that?), I'm pretty happy with them.  Oh, I did a round toe, just to give it a go.  It's OK, kinda like crown shaping on a beanie.  Will let you know how it wears, but seems comfortable so far.
So there you go. This is the week of the Honey and the Bee.  Perfect for brightening the Winter's days and lending thoughts to warmer days ahead.
I think on that note I'll leave you with one of the sweetest songs around, nearly guaranteed to put a smile on your face, and referenced in the title of this post.  Enjoy x


needleandspindle said...

What perfect winter woollies just in time for the freeze...winter finally got here. The alpaca sweater is just lovely and that alpaca would give you plenty of warmth without the bulk. Great choice...and love the eyelets, they were the first thing I noticed.

nicole said...

Good call there opting for warmth! It looks super cosy and perfect for the weather we're getting at the moment!
And those socks are super cute too!

Caffeine Girl said...

I love that song! And the movie.

The sweater is just beautiful and looks great on you. What a versatile color! The photos in the Australian winter make the sweater look extra cozy.

Emma said...

That jumper looks like a warm hug. Perfect for this Wintery weather of ours.

Tis a wonderful colour too!

Rose Red said...

This jumper suits you very well. Good mods (I hate a too-short jumper!).
Isn't it weird how the same yarn can behave differently between two otherwise identical socks?!