Sunday, August 21, 2005

Separated at birth?

Take a look at this photo. On the left is the Luxury Collection alpaca (DK weight) which my MIL bought me for Christmas so I could make DH a sweater. On the right is some of the 1kg cone of alpaca I bought from eBay (fingering weight) for BIL's Stornaway sweater.

Whaddya think? Is there just one alpaca yarn manufacturer in Peru and everybody buys from them?

Okay, in fairness, you can't tell very well from the shot (my camcorder sucks at taking good pictures of this colour) but in real life, the gift alpaca is a bit more blue than the eBay alpaca. However, the difference is not nearly enough that my MIL won't think I've cheated DH out of an alpaca sweater when she sees BIL unwrap his gift this Christmas. Explanations will have to come swiftly.

And speaking of BIL's Christmas gift...

Stornaway sweater for BIL (blue)
The front is finished!

And this took some doing. The left neck shaping was done first, and then the right. But when I finished the right shaping, I realised I was two pattern rows ahead of where I'd stopped on the left. Great. After MUCH tedious examination (the row markers you see in the picture were inserted to help with this) I concluded that the mistake happened in the left shaping. I ripped it all out and redid it. Happily, I was correct about which side had the error. Can you imagine if I'd ripped out the wrong side?

Notice also the beautifully wound centre-pull ball of the yarn lying nestled within the neckline. This is meaningful. When I started knitting this project, I foolishly began taking yarn right from the cone. (I guess I was thinking I would only work on it at home or something. Duh.) So when it came time to bring the sweater on my commute, I had two choices: bring the big honking 1kg cone with me, or break the yarn so I could wind up something smaller. I chose the big honking cone option and have been breaking my back carrying it around ever since. However, the pattern finally called for breaking the yarn when I was at home with my ball winder, and the result is that on Monday my bag will be much, much lighter. Hooray!

Next week's goal: finish the back.

Henry VII/Larry's Cabled Cashmere Pullover for DH
The indecision concludes.

The story so far:

around November 2004: I've been working on Alice Starmore's 'Henry VII' sweater pattern for DH for some time, but have started to have misgivings about the yarn I'm using for it (Red Heart acrylic). It doesn't seem luxurious enough to do the pattern justice, and I'm worried that the sweater will end up looking like crap.
Christmas 2004: MIL gives me the 'Simply Beautiful Sweaters for Men' book, a whole bunch of DK weight alpaca, and a request to make the 'Stacy's Sweater' pattern for either DH or my brother.
post-Christmas 2004: I realise that the 'Stacy's Sweater' pattern does not jazz me. I decide I want to make Alice Starmore's 'Henry VII' sweater pattern with the alpaca instead, and thus solve two problems with one solution. Test swatch shows this will work.
New Year's eve 2004/5: I ask DH if he minds if I do Henry VII instead of Stacy's Sweater. He confesses he likes the Stacy's Sweater a lot, even though he also likes Henry VII.
early January 2005: I have guilt about messing with MIL's gift intentions and DH's desire for the Stacy's Sweater, and decide to go with the Stacy's Sweater pattern after all. Discover very shortly that the yarn is waaaay too small for the pattern. By process of elimination, this leaves me with only one choice: use the gift alpaca to do Henry VII.
a few days later: I lament the fact that the yarn, while of course it looks lovely doing Henry VII, would look even more lovely doing the Stacy's Sweater pattern.

Fast forward to this weekend...

I was flipping through the 'Simply Beautiful Sweaters for Men' book. And once again I came across the 'Larry's Cabled Cashmere Pullover' pattern:

And once again, I drooled over it. I'm sure you can see why. It's a lovely sweater, and ever since I saw it I've wanted to make it for DH. Not only is it gorgeous, not only do I think DH would look really sexy in it, but it is also very stylish. And I hate to say it, but the vast majority of the sweaters in DH's wardrobe are...well...not stylish. They tend to hearken back to the Bill Cosby era of sweaters.

So this time flipping through the book, it hit me...what if, by freakish chance, the gift alpaca was the right gauge for this project? It would suit the Larry's sweater bee-yewtifully, and, making a sweater from the same book as the Stacy's Sweater pattern would be much more in line with my MIL's gift intentions.

But I figured it would never work, since the yarn had been way too small for the Stacy's Sweater project. But what the heck. I did a test swatch last night. I GOT GAUGE.

This morning I cast on for the Larry's Cabled Cashmere Pullover. Here is where I am so far:

For the first time since this whole rigmarole started, I am truly at peace with (and excited about) the decision. I still have no idea what yarn I'm going to use for Henry VII (which I still really want to make for DH), but at least I definitely know what I'm doing with the gift alpaca. I'm going to use the one navy ball that came with the 'kit' to do the ridge around the neckline below the collar. I think it will look fantabulous.

DH knows nothing about any of this. It might be a surprise. :)

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