Warning: This blog post will be tragically boring to non-knitters. It may very possibly be tragically boring to knitters as well, but at least y'all have a fighting chance. I can't talk about anything else without sounding like a raving lunatic with PMS, so knitting is what you get. In gory detail.
If you're not a knitter, and you read my blog
out of charity for other reasons, I'll give you the latest and greatest cuteness photo of the short people.
So cute. I know. Now go away, or suffer a detailed post about swatching. You've been warned.
Still here? Geek. Ahem.
Anyway, S. Kate (sadly, blogless) made a rather pointed comment on my most recent post.
A Bear. Now gigantic monkeys. Swatches. What do you want us to believe?
What can I say? I realize that the idea of me swatching obsessively is completely implausible. I have no explanation myself. Except the alien abduction theory, of course. The alien abductors apparently forced me to swatch. In orange. I have no idea why, but I do have evidence, right over there on the right.
The dark orange is some Rowan Silky Tweed for a vesty design sort of project, not much to say at this point, but if I ever get around to actually making it, I'll let you know.
The light orange represents four different needle sizes desperately vying to get gauge in DK Zephyr for AS's Elizabeth I. Gauge would be 27 sts/10 cm (6.75 sts/in for those playing along at home), which I gave up on at 25sts/10cm (6.25sts/in) on size 0 needles. I know this sweater is supposed to be knit like armor but I didn't want to wear fabric (much less knit it) any tighter than that. I abandoned the DK Zephyr momentarily and considered alternatives.
The key alternative was Henry's Attic Silk & Ivory, which is a bit thinner than the recommended yarn. HA yarns only come undyed, which means dyeing yarn in the pot, which means, I don't care who you are, I don't care how good you are or how professional your equipment, it means you will have some color variation in the yarn. Commercially-dyed yarns are dyed in the wool (that's where that phrase came from) and then carded and spun in color to create uniformity. I knew that whether I did it or someone else did it, there would be variation/variegation. Ironically, even the DK Zephyr was dyed in the wool, presumably in industrial conditions, and you can see some variation. And it turns out that it's okay with me for Elizabeth--it doesn't detract from the fabric really at all.
So anyway, I was figuring if I was going to use Silk & Ivory, I would have to accept some variegation, so why not just surrender to it and try a madder dye pot. I've been meaning to, and what the hell, right? So memorial day weekend, I cooked up a giant pot of madder and silk and wool and after two separate baths, I came up with what you see here. It's actually pretty evenly dyed, though there are spots near the ties that are a bit more concentrated. Oddly, though I tried to get a deep, dark red, I wound up with pretty much the same color as the DK Zephyr. Apparently the yarn goddess wants me to knit this color.
So despite that digression, I swatched the Silk & Ivory, and it's way too thin. It's actually a really beautiful yarn--gorgeous in fact, but it's a light fingering weight, and it makes a floppy, loose fabric at the recommended gauge.
One more idea: Austermann Barkarole. I think it's actually a fabulous match. But after I bought one ball of this discontinued yarn on ebay, I decided it wasn't worth it. The colors are unappealing, and though there's plenty of the white available on ebay, then we're back to dyeing in the yarn, plus paying an awful lot of money for it. And there was a chat on the KBTH list (where I lurk in awe of the knitting luminaries who post there) about upsizing by using a slightly thicker yarn, which I had thought of, but needed some reinforcement for the idea.
Which I got. And some math was done (as an aside, I feel confident that I will be able to tell the kids that algebra is important in every day life, though I'm not sure that "you'll need this for knitting!" will be the most motivating of rallying cries). And I think if I knit the smallest size, it might come out just a little bigger than the largest size, which is, ahem, just about right.
So anyway, could I take any longer to get to the point? I decided to use the DK Zephyr. Sue me. Wait, this is a Starmore.
Don't sue me, really. I was just kidding.
So, leaving off my wild-eyed account of professional insanity (just ask anyone who has unsuspectingly asked me "what's up?" lately), it's Elizabeth, plus a case of Second Sock Syndrome. In my defense, I'm close to the heel on the second sock for both pairs.
At least that's plausible.