Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Knit, Swirl!

I've been doing quite a lot of knitting over the last year.  Hats, mobius scarves, wrist and ankle cuffs for a bit of added warmth at these pulse points, socks, lots of socks and I've become enamored of a new sort of jacket called a Swirl.  These were introduced in the book Knit, Swirl!  I learned about it when a LYS had a Ravelry post about a class for making Swirls.  So of course I did some research, found the book and really liked the look of the garments.  For several years I've been interested in a longer jacket sort of knit garment and this looked like a nice possibility.

After reading the book I ended up purchasing a kit for the Coat of Many Colors, in the Clemantis colorway.  I figured that a kit would let me try things out without having to do all the yarn selections myself, since this pattern calls for 9 different colorways.  This kit pushed my color preference boundaries, as it includes some colors, like orange and yellow-green, that I never wear.  But the overall effect from this while very colorful is of purple.  Purple is good, I like purple, so I went for it.  And with a few minor points of confusion loved knitting the Swirl with this yarn.  It is Mountain Goat yarn, by Mountain Colors, a wool and mohair blend.  This is not a brushed yarn, so while there is a subtle raising of fibers in the completed Swirl it isn't hairy like many times we think of mohair.

I found the knitting to be simple but interesting.  It starts out with the entire outside edge of the Swirl, so a whole lot of stitches, but then as the welts are knit and decreases made it gets smaller and smaller, and thus knits faster and faster.  Then after the outside edge and collar are done it switches from knitting in the round to knitting flat, back and forth, but now getting faster yet because in addition to the regular decreases at the markers the opening for the neck decreases are also being done.

There are all these mini-milestones.  The Swirls are knit with welted fabric, sort of like sideways ribbing.  Several rounds of knit stitches follow several rounds of purl stitches, 4 or 5 of each, to make this rich, flexible and visually interesting fabric that is extremely simple to knit.  Decreases are all k2tog or p2tog, dead easy.  So finishing a welt is a mini milestone.  Then switching to flat knitting is a milestone.  Then there is the milestone where all decreases for the outside Swirl part stop and you switch to knitting the bodice, which is knitted flat with increases.  Then come the sleeves, where rather suddenly the number of stitches increases quickly.  But this is a milestone and it's very exciting because by this time you are actually very close to being finished!

When the increases for the sleeves are done you knit straight for a while, this is the actual sleeve and cuff of the Swirl and it's a lot of stitches.  But you're almost done!  Part way through the sleeve section it's time to cast off for the back of the neck and do neckline decreases, so suddenly it's tearing along like gangbusters, faster and faster and faster and you're done!

Swirls are such great fun to knit, and are very beautiful.  I am really enjoying wearing my Coat of Many Colors.  So much so that I am currently knitting another one, a Strata Sphere in Lamb's Pride yarn in Jack's Plum, a very deep, dark purple.  And following that I plan to make one out of Cat Mountain Fusion yarns in the color Aurora Borealis.  Blue to green to purple, just my sort of colors!  The yarn is lovely and the skeins have been washed and are dry.  Just need to swatch to verify gauge and finish this Strata Sphere...