Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Monstrosity and The Sublime

I think I mentioned in a previous post that I've joined the Red Sweater KAL. My project for that KAL is now underway. I've given it the appellation "The Monstrosity." Perhaps that gives you a clue how I feel about the project?

With so little free time these days, I bought yarn for this project rather than dyeing something myself. My first mistake was a spur-of-the-moment decision to stop by a LYS to see if they had anything nice in red. The shop is along the route I was taking while running errands, but the place is sorely lacking by any yarn shop standards. The Portland area has so many fabulous shops that I've oftened wondered how this little shop gets by. It's tiny. It's full of acrylics and cheap, scratchy wools. There are few patterns or books to browse. It's just a crummy shop by today's standards. With that said, I do like to stop by now and again. The shop appears to have been around for ages and ages, dating back to long before the knitting boom of recent years. The folks there are very friendly and I just hate to see any yarn shop go under, so from time to time I throw them a bone and pick up a pair of needles or some other small item there. (Those needles I bought are sure to keep them in business.)

I wandered into this shop on a whim and searched for red yarn for the KAL. I was about to give up, after browsing through a ghastly collection of yarns that reminded me of what my grandmother would have used to knit an afghan in the 1960's (that is, if she had been a knitter and if she had been alive in the 1960's), when the gal working there pointed out one lone shelf tucked away at the bottom of a corner area. There sat a small selection of Manos del Uruguay wool.

I've never Manos before but have eyed it a few times. It's a thick and thick worsted weight wool, hand dyed in semi-solid shades. Some of the colors are lovely and it's reasonably soft. Compared to the rest of the selection in front of me that day, it was very attractive indeed. And so, of course, I bought some. Foolish, foolish woman! With a plethora of utterly fabulous shops just a short drive away, I selected my yarn based on how it compared to the rest of this particular shop. I can't stress enough how stupid I am. You have to keep in mind that I have a house that's bursting at the seams with yarn. It's everywhere. I mean, I sell the stuff! I have HUNDREDS OF POUNDS of yarn in my home. I haven't allowed myself the luxury of buying retail yarn in a very, very long time and yet I chose to buy this yarn based on the selection in the worst yarn shop in the area. I may be too stupid to live.

Okay. Stupidity aside, let's get on with the project update. This is the yarn I bought.

That evening, I dove into planning and swatching for a sweater. It quickly became apparent to me that the yarn was just too heavy for my taste for an indoor sweater. I'm not a fan of cardigans and I decided it was just too much for a pullover. After further swatching and noodling on the project, I settled on a vest rather than a sweater. I've never owned or worn a vest in my life, but I kind of like the idea. Yes, a vest it will be!

I swatched a bit more and eventually cast on, with only a vague notion of something simple, perhaps with a bit of cabling. No. That didn't work out. Ugly. Just ugly. I swatched again, playing with ideas for integrating the gray and adding a little interest to a simple vest through color. I cast on. No. That didn't work out. Ugly. Just ugly. The thick and thin nature of the yarn just doesn't lend itself to any type of patterned colorwork. It just looks messy. Perhaps, I thought, I needed to keep it even simpler and just use the gray for a bit of striping detail. I cast on. No. That didn't work out. Still ugly. Just ugly.

All in all, I cast on four times. On the fourth attempt, my husband looked at my work and - not known for his tact - promptly informed me that it looked as though it were knit by a seven year old. That led to the fourth frogging. Now let me tell you, I am not a fan of frogging. Frog is a four-letter word as far I'm concerned. I just don't have a very high tolerance for frustration, so you need to trust me that when I tell you that The Monstrosity was ugly enough to warrant a fourth frogging, I'm talking about some serious ugly here.

Eventually, I decided on a revised plan. I will still make a vest, but it will be a felted vest so that the ugly, sloppy stitches won't be visible. It will be even heavier and thicker when felted, so it will be an outerwear vest rather than a pullover to wear indoors. I'm going to keep it super-simple in stockinet, all in the red with just a bit of gray for edge trimming. Although the project may be rather boring to knit, it should be fairly quick and will likely hold my interest simply so that I can find out whether it will come anywhere close to what I'd like. I haven't done much felting and what I have done has been mostly bags, so it will be quite interesting to see if what I come up with fits (or for that matter, even resembles a vest!). There's a strong possiblity that The Monstrosity may live up to its name. We shall see!

In happier news, I've continued dyeing like a madwoman and loving every minute of it. One of my latest creations is a new favorite for me. It's Superwash Merino Sock Yarn in a colorway called "Sublime." And it is. Sublime, that is. At least I think so. I did a run of eight skeins and have listed the first one in my Etsy store. The colors are sort of brown, sort of wine, sort of sage, and sort of bronze, and all mingle together to create something that is ... well ... sublime.

I'll end this post now, as Blogger has been very uncooperative today so I want to get this posted before it goes haywire on me again! GO KNIT! (Or crochet, if you prefer.)


MonicaPDX said...

My sympathies on the Monstrosity. ::winces:: Somehow, I can just see it in my mind... ;)

And you're right on your new colorway, that *is* sublime! You know who's going to be ordering some next month, don't you? Hee.

(Sock progress is being made on first 'real' sock. Delayed for a bit by Real Life at the heel-pick up segment, but now in the gusset and merrily sailing along. It's so fun to knit with your colorways!)

~Tonia~ said...

Sorry for the probelms with the Monstrosity. Hopefully it will turn around for you.

The new color way is beautiful!

Stacey said...

Sorry to hear about the frogging - I hate it too! Felting the vest is a great idea!

Katinka said...

I've just got to say, Sublime is a jaw-droppingly gorgeous colorway. If I could choose my dream-combo of hues, that would be it. :D