Thursday, December 21, 2006

Rare Breed Sweater Progress

In my last Rare Breed Sweater post (right here), I mentioned being in the problem solving mode. I had two issues I had to deal with before I could start knitting my rows of sheep on the front.

My first problem involved gauge. After I knitted that first tension swatch over 4 years ago, I calculated 4 sheep per row across the back, and 2 for each row in the front. I planned for a row of dark colored breeds and a row for white and light colored breeds. That meant I needed a total of 8 dark yarn samples and 8 light for the body of the sweater. So over the years that's what I collected. 8 dark fleece samples and 8 light ones.

However, when I did a gauge swatch before actually starting the sweater, I discovered that my tension is much tighter now than it was back then. That meant I had to adjust the motif, ending up with 5 sheep for each row across the back. No problem, it worked fine.

But it also meant I had to recalculate the sheep for the fronts. If each front is approximately half of the back, and if I had 5 sheep across the back, then that meant 2½ sheep per front. I can't knit half a sheep -- dilemma! At this point I lamented not starting the whole thing on a circular needle in order to omit the side seams, but the idea of having to juggle twice as many yarn butterflies quickly brought me to my senses.

To think through the problem, I laid out the sweater back to study it.

Sheep motif on my Rare Breed Sweater back.I realized that each sheep was separated by 4 background stitches, and that I had knitted these background stitches at both edges of the sweater back. That meant that the sheep on the front side seam could start almost on the seam. That saved me some stitches!

I redid my calculations and figured that by starting the sheep at the edges of the front, I could fit three sheep on each front. What a relief!

My second problem involved the number of yarn samples I had spun. My original plan (based on that first guage swatch) was to knit each sheep in a different rare breed yarn. According to my original calculations, that meant I needed a total of 16 different rare breeds to work with (8 dark and 8 light.)

My new calcualtions, however, require 11 samples of each color category, for a total of 16 rare breeds. I had picked up a few extra rare breed fleece samples, and have also worked out a fleece trade for after the first of the year, but that still left me short a few samples.

On the one hand, I could start ordering more samples. Hmm, not sure I actually want to do that. Also in my mind were the three boxes of different breeds (Navajo-Churro, North Ronaldsay, and Shetland), each with a lovely variety of breed colors. Trying to choose just one color of each had been hard when I first started planning my rows of sheep. Why not incorporate more colors of at least one of those breeds, maybe as a little family(????)

So here's what I came up with:

My design-as-you-go idea for the 1st Rare Breed Sweater front.
A family of Navajo-Churros, each in a different NC color. This did mean I had to spend some time figuring how to best fit them all on the front, and I hope I've come up with the best solution.

At the moment I've stopped knitting just to look at it for awhile. I'm trying to envision this on the completed sweater. Alternatively, I could frog these and knit three adult NCs, each in a different color. I still haven't decided yet. What do you all think? If I leave the little family will it give the whole thing an off-balanced look in the end? Or will it add some asymmetrical interest? Now that I've met the challenge of actually fitting the adults and lambs on the sweater front, I'm not emotionally attached to either idea and so could go either way.

Opinions welcome.

Related Posts:
Winter Knitting Project
Rare Breed Sweater Swatches
TA-DAH! Rare Breed Sweater Done!


Cathy said...

I like the little family! It's witty and cute and definitely not run-of-the-mill.

Cathy said...

I don't know why blogger switched my identity to C. If you need any more rare breed samples, let me know and I will see what I have stashed.

Mary deB said...

I like the family, too! And I like showing off all the different colours you can get from the same kind of sheep.

Erin said...

I'd say you came up with some pretty good solutions!

bibliotecaria said...

I like the idea of the family and the color variety. The only objection I find is that the distance between the family of three and the one to the right is a little wide, making it feeling spatially unbalanced. The size/number imbalance doesn't bother me, but it feels heavier-weighted to the left. Could you do it again and bring them a little closer together? Or does that totally mess up your count?

Just an opinion, FWIW.

Leigh said...

I agree that this looks a little lopsided, and I've contemplated if I should change anything because of that. My hope is that once the top row is knitted and the pieces are all put together it will be ok. The lone sheep is separated the same number of stitches as the sheep on the back, so it will look like the rest once it's done (hopefully!!)

m said...

I just love the family of NC's as it is. I'm looking forward to the result on the other side.

Tina T-P said...

Well, we have LOTS, I MEAN LOTS of shetland fleece - processed or raw - probably in what ever colors you want if you want to make a little shetland family on the other can email me at marietta_shetlandsathotmaildotcom if you want to talk about what we've got...- T.

bibliotecaria said...

Thanks so much for responding. I've been slow to get into commenting, even though I started my blog over a year ago, but I couldn't resist with yours. The rare breed sweater is such an interesting challenge. In fact, it's one of the things that make me more aware of myself as an artist -- I have to think to make decisions on so many of my projects, just like you are doing now.


Cathy said...

I see the space - but I like offset spacing because in real life - sheep aren't equally spaced. Curious to see what the next version looks like.