I suddenly had a small rush of views on my blog and discovered my post contemplating Unexplained Bias was linked to in the comments of someone else blogging about this curious phenomena. Then I remembered I had a draft sitting here from the end of January, waiting for some photos and me to stop slacking off…
I have been crazy busy this month (now more like two…). The year started off very well, finishing off a commission sweater, and getting started on the next one. The yarn my client wants to use is Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine, a yarn I remember using in a sweater for a LYS display. I remember it being soft and easy to work with. This yarn is NOT the yarn I remember. It ended up being very hard spun and not at all as pleasant as the LYS sample sweater. I own that sweater outright now, as the LYS has closed. It definitely does not seem like the same yarn, and yet I am 100% certain the yarn in the LYS sweater is Berroco Ultra Alpaca – but was it Ultra Alpaca Fine? Ah.. there’s the rub, apparently. The only difference I expected between Ultra Alpaca Light (the yarn I used in the sweater) and Ultra Alpaca Fine was the weight of the yarn. I guess I am now educated on that matter.
I have no pictures of the commission sweater for that yarn, because there isn’t a sweater. When my client asked me if that yarn would be suitable, I knew it would be. It’s a fingering weight yarn and I’ve used everything between lace held double and DK weight yarn. Then my client decided she wanted to hold two strands together to get a marled effect. It’s really pretty, actually, in the hours and hours of knitting I have done (with nothing to show for it… more on that in a second…), but the yarn held double is simply not going to knit down into the gauge required by the sweater without becoming as sturdy as cardboard.
I did swatch with that sweater in mind, to determine if I could simply knit a smaller size at a larger gauge, but my client is already on the small size of the spectrum and the pattern just didn’t get small enough to make that idea work. So I suggested another pattern. I had seen this pattern in my LYS (the one that had the sweater) and it jumped out at me as HER SWEATER. I had to knit this for her!
So why isn’t this done already? GAUGE ISSUES. I knit a new swatch in stockinette stitch from the Ultra Alpaca Fine held double, and based my modifications of the smallest size on this sweater (stated to be 46″ in the bust) on my gauge, trusting that the designer’s gauge was accurate.
I’m a tech editor. I should know better! Actually, I did check the stitch count against the stated gauge and the stated finished sizes.The gauge is great if you just consider those things. One small problem – those slip-stitches are non-existent as far as gauge is concerned! They float on the right side of the fabric and while they are worked in knitting, they should not have been taken into account in determining the gauge.
I’ve knit the back of this sweater twice. The first time was ripping out a piece that ended up 18″ wide (should have been 20″ wide) because I had decreased the number of stitches due to my calculations, unaware that in effect, the pattern was already short 23 slip-stitches in reaching the stated finished measurements. The second time I ripped out it was because I decided to knit to a larger size to make up for the lost width, only to discover that my gauge had loosened between the first attempt and the second attempt. It ended up making a much nicer fabric, but this time the back was a whopping 26″ wide!
I haven’t cast on again. I admit I’ve been a bit traumatized, in addition to being very busy working, going to school, and having a major life event: Dr. B. and I bought a house. We’re closing on Monday, and start moving immediately. EEK!
A beautiful Autumn photo of my new home to ward off the negative-degree windchill today: