I have been enjoying working on the Killybegs cardigan designed by Carol Feller. It is a lovely design and the pattern is really well written. As a result of this, I have been paying attention to Carol, and her other designs, and so I sat up and noticed when she announced she was about to publish her 100th design. Not only that, but it is a lovely design; a cardigan, called Ravi:
To go along with it’s publication, she decided to host a KAL, or knit-along. I think that most KALs used to be when a small local group of knitters decided to all knit the same thing, and to meet up once a week or so while doing it, so they could compare notes and offer encouragement. With the advent of the internet and the huge online knitting community, mediated by Ravelry, the KAL seems to have expanded out of all proportion. I am normally a more solitary type I guess, or maybe don’t like to think of myself as trendy, so I have never participated in a KAL. But here, I thought, is a lovely design and an opportunity to experiment with a KAL for the purpose of blog reporting. (Yes, dear reader, I am doing this for the purpose of science.)
When I joined the Ravi KAL group on Ravelry, there were about 40 others in the group. This seemed like a nice size to me. However, the urge to knit this cardigan seems to be pretty irrepressible, and today, as I write this, there are 755 knitters participating in the KAL, and the number keeps creeping up. The recommended yarn for the cardigan is Blue Moon Fibre‘s Socks that Rock (great name, huh?) in medium weight. Though many are using alternate fibres, a huge number are using the BMF, which is a small company specializing in hand painted yarns. Imagine the chaos there when 600 or so people placed cardigan-sized orders of hand painted yarn! I ordered this yarn, in the colour called Copperline, which is a beuatiful, rich copper, with strand of browns and rusts. I like the fact that it has the richness, depth and variation that comes from the handpainting process, but not too much variation, which I really don’t like knit up in sweaters. Isn’t it a lovely shade?
I am going to hold off on my comments about KALs until a little later in the experiment. I should point out, however, that this is one of those in which the pattern is released in Stages, so that everyone can make an attempt to keep up. The first clue to the pattern, with directions for the yoke, was released about two weeks ago. I had yet to receive my yarn at the time, and was determined not to start until I finished knitting Laresca, so I started about a week late.
The first step to knitting anything, however, is to wind the skein into a ball. I still use the old fashioned method. This means that for every single skein of yarn that I knit, I shanghai Doug or Emma or Leah into standing around with the yarn draped over their outstretched hands while I wind the yarn into a ball by hand. They are really terribly good about this whole process, and never complain, though I think they sometimes conspire to run out of the room when they see me holding a skein of yarn in my hand.
I must say that the above photo altered reality a bit in order to get a good shot; I don’t normally stand quite so close, and I usually wind at a furious speed; I had to slow down in order to capture this. This was also taken on a cloudy, rainy day, and Emma managed to catch the only ray of sunshine that fell in our back garden that day. This mix of sun and shadow playing on the yarn really reflects the richness you see in person.
I will now make a short diversion in this post, intended for those people who buy me birthday gifts (Doug, are you reading this?). Many knitters nowadays don’t have to shanghai their family into standing around motionless for hours with arms outstretched. These knitters have shifts, small mechanical devices which hold the yarn, and which spin, allowing a ball to be wound more easily. Many of these swifts are beautiful works of art in and of themselves. Some can even be dismantled and easily stored away when not in use. Like, for instance, a Hornshaw swift:
Some knitters might also have a ball winder, thus facilitating the process even further, but those hints will wait until another birthday is upon me.
The Ravi cardigan has an unusual construction. The yoke is knit sideways, from center front to center front. Stitches are then picked up along the bottom edge, and the rest of the cardigan is knit downwards in garter stitch. The first clue for the KAL was for the yoke section, which is made using short rows, which shape the yoke into a gently curving shape which is wider along the base than along the top. There is a panel of lace along the bottom edge of the yoke, and the top is formed by garter stitch rows, into which short rows are inserted at even intervals to form “wedges”. These wedges look really interesting and beautiful in the handpainted BMF yarn. I have been working on this, very sporadically I must say, for the past week, and am about half way through the yoke. Here you can see it from close:
And closer still:
Isn’t is completely lovely? In the last photo you can really see the short rows and how they interact with the garter stitch. I will discuss the short rows in more detail in the next post.
I’d like to end, however, with a comment about Laresca. I bemoaned the weather in my last post, and said that I would be ready for the sun if it ever showed it’s face. Today, it wasn’t particularly warm, and it definitely wasn’t sunny, but I managed to wear Laresca anyway, through the mediation of that wonderful piece, the jacket. Here are some photos Doug snapped of me at the office with his phone.
The jacket looks a bit shapeless in these photos, but it’s actually a lovely, comfortable, warm jacket made from felted wool, just perfect for a knitter (it’s from Hobbs).
That’s all the news from Knitigating Circumstances headquarters. Stay tuned for the scintillating topic: short rows!