What’s on the needles

The other day I cast on for this Pierrot Yarns sweater vest (click here for Ravelry link) that’s been in my knitting/crochet queue for a long time. There’s a knit-a-long on Ravelry if you’d like to join in. I’m using some mill end tweed I got from WEBS. It’s a bit rough on the hands while knitting, but it really softens up after washing. Yet another reason to wash gauge swatches – if I didn’t know it got softer, there’s no way I would’ve chosen this yarn.

I had to resize the vest to make the bust slightly larger, but other than that, it’s pretty smooth going. I also decided to work it in the round. For me, knitting is much faster than purling, so doing it in the round speeds things up.

progress of sweater vest

It’s a lot more yellow and less orange than the photo shows. I’m pretty pleased with it so far.

I’m also doing some knitted sampler squares when I need some portable knitting. (The sweater vest isn’t very portable because the cone of yarn I’m using weighs a ton. Don’t feel like lugging it around.) I’m using up worsted weight remnants to make squares that I’ll eventually seam together into a blanket. Nothing original about it, but it’s a nice way for me to use up scraps and try out new stitch patterns.

Let’s see… what else? Oh, I picked up a copy of the new summer Keito Dama last week. Lots of cute summery crochet outfits in this issue.

Pierrot Yarns review: Merino Gradation

This past week, I’ve been using Pierrot Yarns Merino Gradation (store link || Ravelry link) to make a scarf. This is the yarn:

Merino Gradation skeins

While I was at it, I knit up a swatch to review. Merino Gradation is a roving-type yarn, by which I mean that it’s very loosely twisted (similar to Paton’s SWS). It consists of two plies, one off-white and another that changes color to create the gradation effect. Throughout the length, the second ply changes from off-white to blue-gray to black. The change between colors is a bit more slow and subtle between pure off-white and off-white/blue-gray than it is when black is involved, but there’s still gradation between the black and blue-gray sections. (What my swatches don’t show is that you’ll have some sections that are just off-white with no other color. It just didn’t show up in a swatch that small. See the long swatches on the Pierrot Yarns website if you’re curious what it looks like. You can also see it in the scarf I wrote about in my last post.)

Here’s what you’ll find on the label [English translation in brackets]:

  • 毛(メリノウール)100% [100% merino wool]
  • 約30g玉巻(約57m)[approx. 57m per 30g skein]
  • 棒針 6号〜8号 [recommended needle range: Japanese size 6-8 knitting needles (3.9-4.5mm)]
  • カギ針 5号〜7号 [recommended crochet hook range: Japanese size 5/0 – 7/0 (3.0-4.0mm)]
  • ゲージ 18目26段 [suggested gauge: 18st and 26 rows in 10cm]

Swatch (before washing/blocking):

30 st in stockinette on US 7 (4.5mm). My gauge before washing was 21.5 st and 30 rows in 10x10cm.

Merino Gradation swatch before washing
Because I’m a tight knitter, even with the largest suggested needle size, I got more stitches per cm than recommended. The fabric is pretty dense, but not bulletproof, either. It’s still flexible and there’s no denying the softness. If I were using this for a project, I would definitely use larger needles to accommodate my tight knitting, but I wanted to use a needle in the suggested range for sake of comparison. I’m curious to see what’ll happen after washing!

Swatch (after washing/blocking):

30 st in stockinette on US 7 (4.5mm). My gauge after washing was 21.5 st and 32 rows in 10x10cm. So the stitch gauge remained the same, but the row gauge actually shrank.

This may be because I dried it by setting it on my radiator (on low heat). It’s been so damp and rainy here in Paris lately that I feared without using the radiator, it would take days to dry, risking mildew. I did feel when washing it that it grew in size, so my drying method may have caused it to shrink back down. So my caveat here is to take your gauge after drying your swatch however you would wash the finished item.

Merino Gradation, washed swatch (white background)

Merino Gradation swatch (washed)Merino Gradation swatch (washed)

It was hand-washed in cool water and delicate laundry soap. The color bleeds somewhat (either the black or blue-gray dye), so be careful to wash with like colors. Texture-wise, it feels pretty much the same as it did before washing: soft and smooth. There’s a very faint halo of fuzz, but let me stress that it’s very faint. Also, because it’s such a loosely-plied yarn, I feared it would pill a lot when washed, but after one wash, no pilling at all.

My impressions:

The neckwarmer in my previous post was made with three skeins of Merino Gradation in color #2 (off-white, black, blue-gray). So I’ve had a chance to use this yarn for more than just the swatch, and I give it a positive review.

  • The color gradation is nice & gentle – no abrupt changing of color.
  • Soft but doesn’t have a huge fuzzy halo like some loosely-plied (roving-like) yarns.
  • Like most single-ply or loosely-plied yarns, it tends to untwist while you’re working it. However, it didn’t untwist nearly as much as I expected it to. My only previous experience with a yarn of this type is Paton’s SWS, which untwists terribly, leaving you with strands of fuzz that break if you sneeze. Merino Gradation untwisted slightly but never enough to make breaking a risk.
  • Only found one knot in 4 skeins.
  • The only con I can think of is that there are only four colorways available.

Finally some time for Passap tinkering

I didn’t mean to abandon my blog, but I’ve been really busy with grad school. The past few months, I’ve barely had time to knit or crochet, much less try to learn how to use my Passap Duomatic 80. This past week, though, I’ve been playing around with it (when I should be packing up my apartment!).

Thanks to lots of encouragement and advice from folks who’ve posted here on my blog and over at Ravelry, I’ve had some success with the machine. Thanks, everyone!

Here’s my first finished product, a scarf that I knit for a charity drive (organized by the Knitters for Obama group on Ravelry; to be donated to homeless veterans charities). I used four skeins of Lion Brand Magic Stripes in the Denim Stripes colorway, purchased for $1.50 per skein at Big Lots.

It’s a simple fisherman’s rib scarf (lock settings EX/EX), done over 40 needles and for about 1300 rows. I love this machine now! Still can’t get the pushers to move, but I suspect that’s because a deep cleaning is in order.

A day or two before that, I sat down with my clunky old Corona machine to whip up a shopping bag:

This was done with less than half a cone of kitchen cotton and Eileen Montgomery’s Drop Stitch Mesh Bag pattern. Because the pattern is for a mid-gauge machine and my Corona is bulky (8mm, actually), I knit a few more rows. I think that was a mistake, because now it’s enormous! Oh well. I’ll likely use it as a laundry bag or a carry all for bigger items I might have to tote around.

Now I’m eager to play around more with my Passap, but I’m in the midst of moving and have to pack it up very soon. Figures! I look forward to learning more about it later on.