Friday, December 23, 2011

FO Friday: Nummy Alpaca

Let's get this out in the air, I love working with alpaca. It's soft, it's warm, it's amazing. Now, what two things could make alpaca better? Add silk and hand spin those two fibers together. That's a recipe for an amazing knitting experience, and one I got to indulge in.

Now, this particular project has gone through quite a journey. The gorgeous dark green roving was purchased as SAFF (Southeastern Animal Fiber Festival) by one person (Sine), spun by another (Siobhan), and then the yarn was handed off to me to be knit into a shawl for the original purchaser of the fibers. You'd think that was enough of a journey, wouldn't you?


Once I got the yarn, I had to learn how to figure out how much yardage I was given. This is a  very handy skill to learn, and I suggest everyone who works with yarns (especially handspun) learn this. First I placed a skein of yarn on my swift, which I happen to be borrowing from Sine until I can afford my own, measure the circumference of the yarn. Inches works best unless you end up with one or two yard wraps. I happened to have 2 yard wrapsThen near one of the ties, count thenumber of threads in each skein (yeah, it's a pain, sorry!) and multiply by the circumference of the skein - that should give you total # of inches in the skein, which then you can convert to feet or yards or whatever works best for you. I ended up with 416 yards of alpaca and silk deliciousness.
A finished project

Then, I had to choose a pattern. My first choice was called a Dummy Clap. It's a super simple, dumbed down version of a Clapotis (clap oh tee). The dumbed down version, knit a wide scarf that's about 55 inches long. when you're binding off stitches, drop some. It created those gorgeous columns of lace. It's a really nice pattern. for those who have the patience to knit a 55 inch scarf. I generally don't, but I gave it a try anyway, because if I don't push myself and do things I usually don't (or won't), then I can't grow as a knitter.

Before I frogged
Problems came in halfway through working the second skein of this project. I had only knitted about 24 inches and the pattern called for 55. There was no way I could get the length I needed for this monster of a project. I had to change my approach. So what do I do next? Frog the entire thing, an annoying and time consuming task in its own right, only to cast on the same pattern with about 20 less stitches. At this point, I'm thinking I'm pretty clever. The shawl won't swallow Sine alive, and I get to make this the length it needs to be! Wrong. I made it about 35 inches and ran out of yarn.

Again, I had run into a problem. But as luck would have it, I ran into Sine on Sunday and we got to talking about her shawl when she let me know she prefers triangular shawls anyway! How lucky of me that I prefer knitting triangular shawls better as well! Next to find a great pattern. I eventually found a pattern on the lionbrand website. It's called the Easy Triangle Shawl #60301. It's the same pattern as the Splendid Triangle Shawl #80982AD. I love this pattern. It's great for yarn that is Worsted to Bulky weight, and its made for Lion Brand Homespun yarn. I saw this as the perfect pattern for the yarn I had. A little worn from all the knitting and frogging it had been through, I washed it and re-skeined the yarn to help it recover a bit. Worked like a charm. This is what I ended up with!

Please keep in mind that this has yet to be blocked. The shawl will increase in size and the stitches will be much more even once I have finished the blocking process. However, I need to get blocking wires first. That will happen within the next week or two, and then I can block this and the other three projects that have been waiting patiently to be blocked. hehe

In the end, it took about 2 months from purchase to finished product of this shawl. I hope that it was well worth the wait, and I can't wait to hand it over once it's completely done. 

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