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The High Country Knitwear Newsletter

Dear Readers,

   First of all, Gail completed husband Dan’s hat, with the last two skeins in the county of Brown Sheep’s discontinued Loden Leaf, juuuust making it with the addition of the contrast brim edging and band.  And his smile says everything, doesn’t it?  It looks great!

   And I sent off my Red Scarf Project scarf, with an envelope attached to it, holding gift orders for dinner and movie tickets for two.   There’s still time to do your contribution and get it in.

   Now, to what I did with a generous Christmas gift of yarn:

   It was a pound and a half of hand spun, hand dyed wool/mohair, Roxanne’s Mohair, in a weight a little heavier than worsted.  As I wound it into balls, it seemed a strange to me:  full of vegetable matter, prone to breakage, and a little dull.  As I swatched it, it was prone to splitting.  It’s deepest color was a lovely, deep blue-green, but, in the streaking and blothing one sometimes gets with hand-dyed yarns, parts of it faded to pale in some stretches, and others were brightly aggressive. 

   What to make?  A huge shawl, I thought, since I gave one away last summer to my friend Katie, who was moving.  Straight knitting, nothing that would stress an already fragile yarn. 

   I make my simple shawls by casting on at the top, in this case 261 stitches, and working downward, so each row will be shorter than the last. First a simple top edging in garter stitch, six stitches of which on each side would become the side edgings, which would taper to the point as I decreased next to them on each right side row.  I added, on each side edging, two garter stitch rows every ten rows to avert that streeetched look that comes about because garter stitch is shorter than stockingette.  It took about a week from cast-on to bind-off, between bouts of snow shovelling.  And it didn’t look good.

   Then I washed it, in the machine, with a full tub of cold water, a little mild detergent, and some vinegar, on “delicate.”  I blocked it on an old bedspread laid on the basement carpet.  The yarn softened enormously, consolidated well, and assumed a quiet sheen, but it stretched.  When it was barely damp, I tossed it in the dryer on moderate heat.

   When it emerged from the dryer, it had come back down to gauge, the yarn had fully bloomed, the vegetable matter had washed out or surfaced so it could be picked out, the colors had softened , clarified, and blended, and the yarn had softened.  I’m thinking of designing a plain shawl, on the same lines, for embroidery later.  But after something of a wrestling match, I like this one as is. 

   The model is my neighbor, Eve, who, like her two little girls, likes dressing up, and loves fanciful things (she has knit twelve pairs of lambie mittens, among other things!).

   Next up was to finish was the red sweater when the yarn for its second sleeve came in at My Sister Knits.

   I taught it several new words as I worked out the sleeve caps, but eventually I got them right, and this is the outcome.  Again, Eve was kind enough to model it, looking a little like a heroine in a Russian novel, partly because of the shawl, a gift from my daughter. I made the color selection from the Cascade Cloud 9 range specifically to go with this shawl.  This is a wonderful worsted weight, soft, even, and firm.

  

I am now trying to work out the pattern directions for this sweater in a wide range of sizes, because I think it will become many figure types, but that is a chore demanding any amount of arithmetic and some testing, so it’s going to take a while. 

   We’ve had plenty of winter here in Colorado already, as you will know from the news.  Nothing cheers up winter—where we’re actually having winter, and we’re sure having one here--like bright colors and warm and pleasant yarns.

Best,

 Pat