Once upon a time in the summer of 2012 a priest in Ohio, named Kathleen, gave my daughter, Rebecca, a silver fleece. Kathleen’s husband had a flock of 80 sheep, so perhaps this was not a great sacrifice, but it was still a lovely gift. With similar kindness, Rebecca shared it with me!
Looking at the long wavy locks, we knew it was not going to make soft-on-the-skin sweaters, but needed to be some kind of outer wear. Rebecca spun her half “in the grease” (https://osbornfiber.com/?s=in+the+grease) and made a lovely shawl (https://osbornfiber.com/2012/09/) She did not dye it, but rather left it the natural grey.
On the other hand, I immediately washed and dyed my half with black beans. I was pleased at the grey blue color that resulted. After experimenting with it, I decided I liked it best left as a single ply yarn. So I spun all of it single ply and managed to get a rather decent 1150 yards of worsted. It was a bit unbalanced, but not horrible. It sat for 4 years on a desk in my craft room, waiting for its turn. (4 years?! I had not realized the yarn had sat that long until I looked up Rebecca’s post about her half.)
After Rebecca finished her shawl, she gave me the rest of the silver fleece. I immediately washed and dye it as well, but for whatever reason, the dye didn’t take very well. I don’t know why. Maybe the black beans I used that time were old. I did not spin it, but rather let it sit in a bag, also waiting its turn….
Finally June 2016 I decided it was time to work with that old silver thing. I drum carded and spun the plain silver, trying to copy what I had done 4 years ago. On paper and with the bare eye, they looked similar.
Facts: blue yarn: 622g and 1150 yards
grey yarn: 618g and 1040 yards
Since they looked similar, I hoped to put them together into the same project. But how? What project would suit the yarn? Because the yarn is single ply, I figured I would make a vest, since single ply doesn’t wear well on sleeves. I had plenty of yarn to play with, so I swatched and looked at patterns. Eventually I picked out the Hooded Cable Vest from Vogue Early Fall 2016. However, I did not like the lozenge-shaped accent cable, so I changed that to something called “Linked Ribs”, taken from my “365 Stiches a Year Perpetual Calendar.” (April 26)
Here is my swatch in its entirety, after blocking. I started on the left and finished right, changing needle sizes and patters until I had figured out what to do.
Part 1: I tried two mitered squares, thinking first that I might try a mitered square project. Both are knit with the blue yarn. (Apology: the individual pictures are turned the other way- right to left.)
Rebecca had suggested it because she had read that a mitered square might help balance an unbalanced single. It made sense to me.
The first picture shows a garter-stitch mitered square with size 7 needles.
The second one shows a mix of garter and straight stitches, using size 6 needles. Hmmm. I didn’t really like it.
Part 2: I started experimenting with straight stitches and the cabled vest pattern. First I knit with the blue again, then I started striping the blue and the grey.
Hmm…..I didn’t like the striping much.
Part 3: I decided to see what it would look like if I knit with size 9 needles, holding both yarns together. Bleuk.
Part 4: Finally, I widened the swatch and went down another needle size. With size US 5 needles, I striped a bit more with both colors in straight stitches. Nope. It was nasty. Face reality, Linda. Even though the yarns look similar, they are not!! What do you expect? You are not an expert spinner. You spun them 4 years apart; they are different. And wow, those yarns do not look good striped. They fight each other. But I really liked the blue knit by itself. Sooooo, maybe I would like the grey by itself too! And maybe they would look nice NEXT to each other! So I tried blue cables with grey straight stitches on the outside, and grey cables with blue stitches on the outside.
Hey, that looks pretty good!
And it’s perfect because the vest pattern is written this way…..with cables in the middle and plain panels on the outside.
Now the truth is, I tried one more thing. Again I was fooled into thinking that my yarns were similar enough to knit side by side IN THE SAME PATTERN. That did not work. Here you can see some ribbing I tried, alternating the colors. The grey is definitely thinner. If I had continued, and tried to knit the entire back of the sweater in these alternating colors, it would have been a mess.
Held up to the light, you can see the difference in the yarns. This convinced me to go back to the previous idea of knitting the cables in one color and the side panels in the other.
But which one should be where? My husband, Cliff, suggested that I use the thicker blue yarn for the plain outer panels, and the thinner grey yarn for the cables…..the very last example in my swatch. I didn’t like this idea because I loved the blue color better and wanted to use it for the pretty cables. Sigh. But he was right. And it looks great now. Yay!! I’m liking it now!
I’ll show you more pictures when I’m all done. It’s great fun to knit! No sleeves, but yikes, there are pockets and a hood.
My goal: to get it done by the end of the Olympics!