Saturday, November 11, 2006

Not So Fetching

Okay, here is the FO I promised you the other day. It is yet another pair of wristers: the pattern is Knitty's Fetching.

I knit these out of the prescribed yarn, Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran. I have been wanting to try this yarn for a while. It has a nice cushy softness in the ball, and pretty colours. I finally forked over the $10 for a single ball, thinking vaguely about swatching for a cardigan. When I got it to the counter, the girl pointed out a completed pair of "Fetching" fingerless mitts out of the very same colour I was buying, and I immediately decided to use those for my test-knitting object.

I cast on for these on Sunday night, and was finished by Monday noon, knitting them in between talking with my friend, meal prep, bedtime, reading stories to the kids, all the normal stuff. So, they are a fast knit and there are definitely no curve balls in the pattern. However, if you do some counting you'll realize that I have only had them for 6 days, in which they were worn a normal number of times, in normal circumstances, and they already look like this:

I don't know whether you can tell from the picture, but these babies are tired. They are sad, pilly, woebegone, slouchy, fuzzy rags. I sat gazing at them, wondering what they reminded me of, until I realized that I knit a pair of short wristers last year with Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk and those, too, look like last year's try-on sample in some discount accessory store.

I have to admit that both these pairs of limp, exhausted, wilted gaunts are soft and warm. They are comfortable to wear and were nice to knit (especially the Alpaca Silk - the Cashmerino Aran was less nice - I could feel that microfibre and didn't like the synthetic squeak) but they are utterly casual looking, very worn-in, and not at all the kind of posh, luxurious thing you think you're signing up for when you buy a designer yarn at $10 per 50g skein.

I am aware that the fibers used in both these yarns are soft and short-staple, which means they're doomed to a certain amount of fuzz right out of the gate. If they had developed a surface halo, say, or if the stitches had merely become a little indistinct, that would be fine. It's the cheap appearance that I object to.

So, all in all, I was completely disappointed by the yarn. The pattern, however, had its redeeming qualities. It is not absolutely my kind of thing aesthetically, but I really wanted a fingerless mitt (i.e., a thumb opening to keep the wristers from sliding back into my sleeve) and I thought this would be a good place to start. I did make a few modifications to this pattern. I used 3.75mm needles (lucky I did - these have stretched out like mad and I need every bit of cling I can get here). I also changed the cable from twist-every-sixth-row to twist-every-fifth. This was an accident - I glanced at the instructions instead of reading them carefully, and once I had done a repeat and realized my mistake, I also realized I preferred the ones I had done. I just added in the three missing rows to the ribbing above the cable, before the thumb opening. My only other mod was the cast off. I originally worked it as directed, with a little picot-thing every few stitches. I HATED this - it was very loose and gapey - so I ripped it out and reknit it, not only sans picot, but also with a decrease added in every fifth/sixth stitch. This was much more comfortable, fitting closer to the hand without flaring.

I wouldn't knit this again - either the pattern or the yarn. I would use the pattern as a jumping-off point, but would take so many departures that it would be unrecognizable when finished. I would do an all-over cable, to tighten it; I would use a smaller needle to make a tighter fabric; and I would lengthen the wrist portions to a more practical length. These are too short to be of real use as warmers - although they work well under a long-sleeved sweater that is in no danger of riding up. I find I am constantly tucking them back into my sleeves. I think tightening them up would go a long way towards solving this problem, too.


But I have cast on for St Brigid, since I got gauge with my first swatch (hooray for bamboo needles!) and can't wait to start. I am only on round 2, so the cabling hasn't begun yet. It's going to be a challenge - but so fun. There are 5 different charts on both the front and the back, so you knit in this order:

Chart A, Chart B, Chart C, Chart B, Chart D, Chart B, Chart E, Chart B, Chart A


Almost finished the Lacy Scallops socks - I am this close. I have rounded the corner into the straightaway, and am galloping along at a fine clip. I should be decreasing for the toe tomorrow night. (I LOVE the end of the second sock. It feels great to weave in the ends, pull the socks on, and take the pattern straight to the recycling.)

Pattern: Knitty
Needles: 3.75mm Clover Takumi bamboo DPN
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, in colour 603
55% Merino, 33% Microfibre, 12% Cashmere, 90m/50g
Cast On: Sunday, November 5
Cast Off: Monday, November 6
Modifications: see above. Cable, needle size, cast-off.


Kate said...

Wait -- you started St. Brigid?!? Yay!
Disappointing about the yarn for Fetching, although they do look, rather, well, Fetching :)

Gwen said...

I quite like them!