Lo, owls!

Pattern: o w l s, by Kate Davies (rav project link here)
Size made: Small
Yarn used: Beaverslide McTaggart Tweed, Big Sky Blue, about 3.25 skeins (just under 700 yards)
Needles used: US 10/6.0 mm for most of the sweater; used a US 8/5.0 mm needle for the neck ribbing because I didn’t have the appropriate length US 10 needle handy; bound off with a US 10.5/6.5 mm needle.
Date started: January 26, 2009
Date completed: January 30, 2009
Mods: I wasn’t paying attention and didn’t do the last set of increases soon enough, so the sleeves don’t slope exactly as written.

Knit to about 16 inches before starting short rows. I messed up the stitch marker placement and so the short rows might start/end in bizarre places. This weirdness carried into the yoke decreases, so I couldn’t follow the directions exactly and had to fudge it a bit, but it’s not noticeable.

Notes:

  • Knit the sleeves first, two at a time, using Magic Loop. Finished sleeves in two days (it took about 1 skein for the two sleeves).
  • I used some buttons and some little glass flower beads (this type) for the owl eyes. WOW, were there ever a lot of buttons to sew on for this sweater. I tried to make each owl different (at least from its immediate neighbors), picking different eye buttons or sewing the thread through the holes in different patterns.
  • The Beaverslide is really soft, warm, and nice, but the surface texture is pretty uneven, so the stitch definition isn’t as good as I would have expected. It has sort of a light, spongy consistency to it, with very little drape. It works better for more structured pieces, I think; instead of skimming over lumps and bumps on the body, it tends to kind of bunch up and sit there in unflattering creases. I’m not sure what to make with the remaining 580 yards in my stash.
  • The yarn also would probably do better knit at a slightly tighter gauge, though this would make it even less drapey. The stockinette looked a little loose, although it did bloom and fill out a bit on blocking.
  • The shaping is interesting–you do waist shaping only in the back, along two dart lines, rather than in the front and back or on the sides. The upper back is kind of baggy on me–not sure if this is a result of putting all the curves into the back of the sweater or if it just doesn’t fit my proportions.
  • The sweater was such an instant gratification project. I think people overestimate how much work a bulky-weight sweater project is–this contained far fewer stitches than a pair of socks, or possibly even a single sock, in fingering weight, and it’s about 90% stockinette stitch in the round.
  • I have gotten a lot of random compliments on this sweater, mostly starting out with a cry of “oh, my God, they’re owls!” as the cable pattern comes into focus.
  • Bottom line, I really love this sweater. It nicely fits a niche in my wardrobe previously filled only by store-bought sweaters: sturdy worsted weight long-sleeved pullover. I have several other handknit pullovers, but they tend to be either made of soft and delicate materials–not the kind of thing you’d wear for washing dishes or taking out the trash–or lighter or heavier weight. The short rows shape the neck nicely so it doesn’t ride up and get all chokey in the front (a big problem with my Leaf Lace pullover). And the fitted sleeves may not be as pretty as bell sleeves, but they’re much more wearable (they don’t flop around and get in the way, or let in cold air) so I prefer them to the sleeves of my Phyllo Yoked Pullover or my Hourglass Pullover.

Closeup of back o w l s where you can see their cute little eyes and the somewhat uneven yarn texture:

You can kind of see the upper back bagginess in this photo:

The Beaverslide holds a blocking beautifully. Those creases just above the front ribbing got put into the sweater during its final blocking and haven’t come out despite lots of wear. I haven’t re-blocked it to fix it yet.

I’ve been really busy with work and other random distractions like the car stuff the past couple of weeks, but I have gotten a little knitting in. I’m trying to knit a vest for the Vest-uary knitalong on Ravelry. I’m designing it myself, in a beautiful dark gray color of Cascade Eco Wool, one of my favorite yarns. The front is a very dense slip-stitch pattern, so it’s taking ages–I’m not sure I’ll finish in time. But I’m going to go and work on it a bit and watch the rest of Hell’s Kitchen. (And about that show, specifically the Feb 19 episode. Why are these supposed food lovers such utter and total babies about what they put in their mouths? Barfing because you’re asked to eat some beef liver? Really? Srsly? What kind of chef are you? That’s good stuff.)

And my beloved Bird in Hand mittens seem to be gone for good and I’m very sad about it. I think they fell out of my pocket when I was loading groceries in a parking lot and someone swiped them. I called the lost and found twice and posted on craigslist with no luck. So I have to finish this vest and make myself some new mittens to keep my hands warm. I’m wearing my Selbuvotter:

which are very beautiful, but they’re a bit too big for me.

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