Death by Sleeve

Remember the Dyemonds tee? The last time I wrote about it was in this post from March 27th, and I had gotten this far:

I had been zipping along on this, and was also writing about how intuitive the pattern was, and how fast it was going. And then… I decided to knit the sleeves. Cue ominous music: Dum-da-dum-dum! This is where things got dicey.

I decided to knit the sleeves at this point for two reasons. First, if one doesn’t save the sleeves for last, one gets all of the messy (or boring) stuff done first, and then sails on to the end of the sweater. Second, I wanted to try to match the colours of the sleeves (more or less) to the body. Due to the nature of the Spincycle yarn (long colour shifts and extreme differences from skein to skein), I wanted to do this early on while I still had enough yarn to do a proper match instead of getting to the end and finding that the only yarn remaining didn’t allow me to match up the sleeves. As an example of the colour matching problem, see here my two remaining skeins of the yarn:

So, I put the sleeve stitches on my trusty DPNs (double pointed needles), picked up the stitches under the arm, and tried to knit the first row. I tried to knit the first row for about 3 hours, pulling it out and starting again, and reading the instructions over and over and over again. I basically hit a conceptual wall. It was a case of Death by Sleeve. I ended up throwing the project into the naughty corner, and proceeded to finish Doug’s beautiful Ursula waistcoat, and knit the Tin Roof tee, before I gave myself a strict talking to, and dragged out the Dyemonds tee for a second attempt at the sleeves. And voila!

Two sleeves! They fit nicely too:

There are two types of problems with the sleeves. The first is conceptual. I had a hard time with the instructions. I am pretty sure this is my fault and not the designer’s, but I really struggled. She utilises two markers: a BOR (beginning of row) and a BOC (beginning of chart), something which I think ended up confusing me. Mostly, however, the problem is that the patterns don’t match at the underarm of the sleeve (which is a natural effect of the pattern and the way that sleeves work), but I couldn’t get my head around it. And, of course, no one ever shows you photos of these things. So, in case you plan to knit one of these, here is a photo of the underpart of the sleeve:

The pattern doesn’t match along the inside seam of the arm, which makes sense because you are decreasing in order to make the sleeve fit. But it also doesn’t match on either side of the underarm, in other words the stitches which you pick up at the underarm, do not flow from the already established pattern of the sweater body. Of course, the pattern does flow from the already established pattern on all of the visible parts of the sleeve, just not at the underarm and inner sleeve. To see this, look at the below photo of the sleeve from the front. The green stitch marker is the same one from the photo above, so it helps you visualise the pattern placing.

See how gorgeous this part of the sleeve is? The pattern integrates beautifully. That’s because all of the messiness is hidden away and never gets seen unless you walk around with your arms above your head, and point to the offending bit saying “Look! It doesn’t match!” For some reason, however, I really had trouble with conceptualising the way the pattern behaved at the underarm. Once I figured it out with the first sleeve, I no longer had this issue on the second sleeve. That, however, brings me to the second problem with the sleeves: doing stranded knitting on double pointed needles is really fiddly and hard to do. This was equally as fiddly on the second sleeve as on the first. So, once I got my head around what I had to do to knit the pattern, I had to get my fingers to sort out what they had to do to actually knit the damn thing! I am telling you, this really was death by sleeve and came close to being frogged. Now, all I have left is easy knitting. So I am hoping that the rest of this tee will move along at a jaunty pace.

The colours in this look very different depending on the light and it’s difficult to capture. Sometimes the oranges and yellows pop and it looks very warm, and sometimes the reds and pinks pop and it is more cool. This photo is pushing the exposure a bit but I like it:

If you are wondering about the results of the poll from earlier in the week, I will report back soon. I think I’ve figured out which sweater kit I will ask for, and am now thinking about colour. I hope you had a lovely weekend!

And now for something new

You know how sometimes, you just have to cast on something new? I really wanted to finish Doug’s vest before starting a new project, but it’s been sitting in the naughty corner since I realised my gauge had changed (argh!), and I had this new project ready to go.

Some months ago, Josée Paquin put up a photo of her prototype for a new design. She was looking for test knitters. I decided right then that I needed to make this sweater once the pattern was released. It is called Dyemonds (Ravelry link here):

© Josée Paquin

I loved it so much that I even ordered yarn for it. It uses Spincycle Dyed in the Wool, which seems to be on everyone’s needles at the moment. Right after seeing the above photo, I got an email from a local yarn store saying they just had a big delivery of Spincycle, and I realised that the colour called Devilish Grin was pretty cool. So I ordered it and put it away.

The example in the pattern photo was knit with two different shades of Spincycle, but I decided from the beginning to use a single-shade background colour in a cheaper yarn. This was partly due to the way I envisioned it looking, and partly to save some money. Hey, we are all on a budget this year, and I’m all for not blowing the whole budget on one sweater!

I spent some weeks thinking about what colour to use as the background – grey, green, purple, yellow – and also what type of yarn. It calls for sportweight and I wanted a nice bouncy wool with a good feel and a reasonable price tag. Last week, I suddenly woke up in the middle of the night with this thought: “I have 5 skeins of Quince & Co Chickadee in black in my stash!” And there you go Problem solved. Because the Chickadee has been in my stash since 2017, I can even count it as free (using Kelly’s Fantastical Accounting Principles). Yay me!

I cast on and was hooked right away. The pattern is genius! It is knit top-down with no steeking. It has some short rows at the top and those are very tricky. The point of the short rows is to make the back neck sit higher than the front, and those short rows are knitted back and forth, which takes some concentration when knitting in pattern.

Here you can see the start of the sweater, and you can see that the back is raised higher than the front. I like this photo because you can get a glimpse of the reverse side as well.

Below is a photo of the shoulder and the top of the raglan shapings. See how cleverly the increases on either side of the raglan are incorporated into the pattern? Oh, the genius of it gives me a shiver. It’s such a smart design.

Having the black for a background colour does take some of the zing out of the Devilish Grin. I am torn between wanting it more zingy (like maybe with a white background or a good strong yellow), and really adoring knitting something in black. Like many knitters of an (ahem) advancing age, I rarely knit with black because it’s hard on the eyes. But I like wearing it, and I think this is going to be a lovely finished project. It’s very hard to photograph as it changes quite a bit depending on the light. Here is an outside shot:

It’s a super interesting and fun knit, and I have zipped along on it. I can’t take any more photos at the moment because it is dark and gloomy here, but here is a shot from two nights ago. I put it on a long, spare needle so I could stretch it out for a photo.

Knitting with a yarn that changes colours like this, you want to keep knitting one more row just to see what happens next. But I am determined to be good. I am putting it away for the weekend, and am going to tackle the vest. Have a good weekend, everyone!