A Handspun Tecumseh Triumph

When Caitlin Hunter released Tecumseh last March, it was — like so many of her patterns are — instantly added to my to-knit list. I toyed with the idea of buying yarn for it a number of times, but always stopped short. It was hard to justify a yarn purchase (no really, it was!) when I have sweater quantities here “in stock.” Toward the end of summer I realized that I had two out of three of the colors I was looking for in my fiber stash. Could I do it? Should I make a handspun Tecumseh?

The answer, it turns out, was yes. I had to get a little extra fiber, but it was still less expensive than buying another sweater quantity of yarn (that’s an important note in my irrational rationalization of this whole thing). If you’ll remember I spun up a test skein in September…

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It was a little on the heavy side for the knitting to gauge, so while I still did all the calculations in case all the yarn came out a little too heavy, I aimed lighter for the rest of the yarn which I spun mostly during Spinzilla. It turns out Spinzilla is a great opportunity to spin a sweater quantity of yarn if you’re in the mood to fly through it and not allow yourself time to get bogged down. It only took a week or so beyond the event to finish up all the yarn…

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And shortly after that, I swatched again and found that I’d indeed hit the nail on the head for gauge. I started knitting.

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As I mentioned in an earlier post, this project just flew. If I were a cat, colorwork knitting would be my catnip. It’s normal for me with any colorwork project that I cannot put down, but this sweater just hit the perfect rhythm for me. Colorwork, short stockinette section, more colorwork, repeat. It was the project that just kind of propelled me forward effortlessly.

Even though I was busy during the month of November, each night my few rounds of Tecumseh were something I looked forward to, like a treat for making it through the tougher days. img_4449

And it just flew.

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Before I knew it, I was on to the sleeves. And then I was trying it on, a finished sweater. I was a little concerned on that first try post-finishing that the sleeves were short. I’d followed the pattern’s recommendations, but I believe they are written to be what comes across to me as a little high-watered. I knew from other people’s photos, the sleeves did run a bit on the short side for many and I was torn between leaving them or giving mine a bit more length. Considering the fiber blend I’d used (80/20 Merino/Tussah), I thought there was a good chance that a warm soak would relax them enough to make them perfect without adjusting them. This is where knowing your fiber blends, how you spin, and the resulting yarn helps a lot!

I drew a warm bath for my sweater with a bit of wool wash and a hefty dose of vinegar, too. I had already washed and set the yarn and did not expect any of the colors to bleed, but with colorwork projects I don’t think you can ever be too careful. After letting it soak for a while, I pulled it out squeezed as much of the water out as I could and set it out to dry, with just a very basic reshaping. And then I waited. It’s a fairly heavy sweater with the colorwork, so even in low humidity it took a few days to dry.

And Voilà! A finished sweater!

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I went with the ultra generous fit. I think my positive ease is 13-14″ which is a lot. And I love it.

I was doing some garage and yard work this morning and I’m not exactly presentable, so I had my girl take this headless portrait so you could see the final fit, including the worrisome sleeve length which thankfully turned out just right.

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Perfetto! It’s big and cozy and just the absolute perfect comfy weekend sweater.

I think the blue + yellow + grey turned out just right, too.

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The yellow is definitely bright, but I love the combination and I think these colors play so nicely together.

Can I show you a little secret, too?

You may or may not know that I’m a huge fan of subtle little imperfections. As I was spinning the grey, I happened to have a few little bits of red fiber from a previous spin sitting next to me. I thought… wouldn’t it be kind of cool to spin them into this grey? Just a little something to make it truly unique, a little yarn design element that’s all mine.

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There are two spots in my sweater that have just that little hint of red. It’s kind of like a little secret just for me.

And there you have it! My handspun Tecumseh sweater is officially finished. I’m wearing it as I type. I may not take it off until next spring!

 

Early Christmas Gifts, Trail Cam Discoveries, And Some Knitting & Spinning, Too!

I hope each of you celebrating Thanksgiving had a wonderful holiday and got to spend some quality time with friends and family. Since Mr. TKS works on almost all the holidays, we are generally hosting my parents and a few others and this year was no different. I’m not much of a cook so I have always been a little terrified of the big holiday meals, but after taking the reins since our move I’m now to the point that I kind of enjoy the cooking. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve still got a long way to go until I can start bragging about my holiday meals, but I’m no longer just overwhelmed by the prospect. I find that getting more familiar with some of the recipes to the point that I don’t mind incorporating some news things has lightened the stress level quite a bit and made it much more fun.

Alas, part of my learning curve — because the learning curve is ever-present — this year was a reminder not to use a mandoline while trying to have a conversation.

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Yes, I managed to slice a bit of my thumb off. It bled an alarming amount which is the main reason for the giant bandage. In reality the cut was pretty small and while I opted to take that night off of knitting and spinning, I was back at it the next day.

In fact, I grabbed a new pack of fiber to test out the ol’ liquid bandage remedy.

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What a pretty way to recover! This is Vivid Choosing on Falkland from Three Waters Farm and it’s sheer delight. I’ve got just one small nest left to spin of it, so clearly I’ve been flying! After the long sweater spin, it was fun to just spin to spin.

Speaking of the sweater, I finished!

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My Tecumseh sweater is done and drying! I bound-off the final sleeve Sunday night and put it in the bath straight away. I’m not sure yet if I’ll need to lengthen the sleeves, so I left whatever ends I’d yet to weave in as is just in case I do want to add on some length. The sleeve length was close, so I’m guessing the relaxation brought about from the bath will do the trick. Usually I just knit them longer and roll the sleeves, but I thought I’d try something a little different this time. We’ll see how it looks in a few days — with the colorwork the drying is going to take some time!

Beyond these two projects, I’ve been working on my sock blank socks a bit, wrapping gifts, and — oh yes! —  I must not forget, I got an early Christmas gift! I went to run the dishwasher after dinner on Saturday night and apparently it have given up the ghost. We tried some troubleshooting, but it’s quite old and it was just fried. So in one of the world’s most exciting (is there sarcasm there, I’m not sure…) surprise joint Christmas gifts, Mr. Knitting Sarah and I treated ourselves to a new dishwasher! Try to control your enthusiasm!!!

I grew up in a house where we had no dishwasher so for 18 years I was a designated dish dryer while my sister washed. Maybe it wasn’t all 18 years because once I had a job and other obligations in high school I don’t think my parents expected much dishwashing out of me… but you get the idea. In any case, I don’t take it for granted and I fully recognize the dishwasher as a “want” not a “need” when it really comes down to it. While I may be a little sarcastic about my excitement for my Christmas gift, I am indeed very thankful for it. Perhaps the most exciting part, however, is that my dishwasher will no longer be called the “Quiet Partner” — I don’t know why, but that name has always been weirdly disconcerting to me. The new one will have a “name” that’s a bunch of numbers and letters — I’m much less creeped out by that!

And in one final bit of news from the Knitting Sarah homestead, I checked our trails cameras today after almost a week of not touching them and in between a zillion pictures of squirrels and deer, look at what I found!

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At first I thought it was our friend the Red Fox, but my friend asked a furbearer biologist she knows and was told it’s actually a Grey Fox. The good news is it’s a fox in the yard again (because YAY!), but the bad news is that Grey Foxes and Red Foxes don’t generally share territory, so as long as this guy is around, we aren’t likely to see our friend the Red Fox.

And that, my friends, is the latest from Knitting Sarah HQ. I hope your holiday was grand and that you are all recovering, enjoying leftovers, and maybe relaxing with some knitting & spinning, too!

Box Ticking

I’m definitely someone who is driven by ticking items off of a list. Nothing motivates me more than seeing progress unfold. This means that it I make a list and I keep said list on-hand, I’m generally guaranteed to get things done. The more way points I have to check off, the better I function. First you do this, check. Then you do this, check. And finally you do this, check. It is music to my ears.

It should come as no surprise then that when you add evenly spaced colorwork to a sweater project that it will translate to mild obsession for me. First I will work the neck short rows, check. Then I will work the first yellow colorwork section, check. Next I will complete the first blue colorwork section, check. And so on and so forth. This has turned out to be my Tecumseh handspun sweater knit and I am just all in on it.

This is where I was one week ago…

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And this is where I am today…

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The next complete round will send me into the final repeat of the blue colorwork on the body of this sweater. If I’m estimating correctly that’ll put me somewhere between 2-4″ from the bottom ribbing. Not too shabby for a week of knitting!

Also on the good news front…

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My Stylish Hermit project bag still has plenty of yarn in it for the rest of the sweater, I think. My gauge has been pretty consistent throughout this knit and I’m not yet halfway through my main color skeins, so I am hopeful that my yardage will hold up and it’s all going to work out just fine. I don’t know why, but with handspun projects it’s around this point that I start to freak out a little about running out of yarn. I’m relieved that not only is the main color looking promising, but the contrast colors are right where I expected them to be. I’ve been knitting with slightly more generous than I think I need floats on the back of the colorwork because I decided I’d rather risk have slightly larger gauge on those stitches or too much yarn on the wrong side than have the colorwork choking the fabric at all. So far, not only do I have enough yarn, but it’s looking pretty good. I intend to give it a good solid blocking when it’s all done and I feel fairly confident that it’ll turn out pretty darn close to exactly how I want it.

I had been a little unsure about how I’d use the contrast colors because the yellow was a very high contrast to the grey and the blue, not so much. At this point, I’m really not concerned any more…img_4450

There’s some glare on this image, but suffice to say, I just really adore this whole combination. It’s just like I dreamed it would be.

I’d love to keep writing about it here, but honestly, let’s be real, I have an obsession to get back to… I mean a sweater to get back to knitting. I did, after all, just finish the last yellow colorwork section on the body, check. So I know I now need to get on finishing up the last blue colorwork section on the body. And then the last few inches of the main color. And finally, the ribbing. So many boxes to tick, I’d better get to it!

 

A ‘Stylish’ Option

In my last post I shared that I was ready to start my handspun sweater! One more indulgent look at the handspun? Yes, please!img_4396

Of course, as is old news by this point, I’ve been spinning this yarn to create my own handspun Tecumseh SweaterAs it snowed and rained and sleeted Sunday morning I finally buckled down and got it all wound and then I got to knitting another swatch.

You may remember I swatched earlier with the first skein of Sunshiney Day when I was making sure I was close on the weight of the yarn. So why do another swatch, right?! Well, it’s simple. I wanted to do another swatch with the main color to double check where the remainder of the skeins were with regards to weight. I’d aimed a bit lighter after the initial skein and I was hoping that despite doing the math to accommodate the heavier yarn, maybe I’d lightened up the yarn just enough to be able to use the pattern without my calculations. Sure enough, a quick swatch with just one needle change got me right on the listed gauge and with a fabric that with which I’m quite pleased. Perfect! 

Having set my swatch aside, Mr. Knitting Sarah finished up some work and we dashed out for a quick drive through the rain and sleet and snow to see what we could see. We didn’t see much of anything because — let’s face it — not much wildlife likes to be out in that kind of weather, but what we did see was pretty fantastic…

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We saw 3 Whooping Cranes. As Mr. KS — who took this photo said — it’s always a special day to find one, let alone three, in the wild considering that at one point they numbered just over 20 living birds in the world. Now, while they are still listed an endangered, there are 757 living Whooping Cranes. This was by far the closest I’ve seen them in the wild. We spent a good long time just watching them rooting around in the fields for food, looking mostly undisturbed by the unpleasant weather. They are always such a regal, magical sight.

After this sighting, we turned and headed for home as the temperature fluctuations were wreaking havoc with our tire pressure sensors and — being in the middle of nowhere — we did not feel like getting stuck with a tire issue in 30 degree rain and sleet. We got back to town, dealt with the tires, and headed home for a warm cup of coffee.

It was then that I grabbed my freshly wound handspun so I could cast-on (for real!) my handspun Tecumseh sweater. Now I did wind all 11 skeins of yarn and needed a place to keep all the yarn, of course. Thankfully I’d just gotten my brand new Stylish Hermit Project Bag in the mail at the end of last week!img_4411

This fabulous bag comfortably fits all 11 skeins plus my project on the needles!

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I absolutely adore the size, first and foremost. Big enough for a sweater project, but thanks to its deep V design, you can easily tie it down to smartly accommodate a much smaller project, too. The luxurious linen folds down very neatly as well to create an open basket feel for knitting in action.

Having dabbled in sewing myself, I find the seams a really elegant way to present a no-catch project bag…img_4414-1

They are as beautiful as they are practical.

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Thanks to this bag, but sweater is ready to travel anywhere! In addition to knitting projects, this bag will also be perfect for holding prepped fiber for spinning projects. I may need to pick up more!

Stylish Hermit bags are currently available in two autumnal hues — Moss Green and Bordeaux Red —  through Three Waters Farm.

 

The designer-seamstress behind these lovely project bags is none other than Mary Ann & Stephen’s daughter, Liliana Pagano. Liliana has a BFA in Costume Technology and these project bags are her most recent collaboration with Mary Ann. Combining the talents of these two talented women, it’s no wonder these project bags are so wonderful! I for one can’t wait to see what they dream up next!

In the mean time, I suppose I’ll keep knitting on my Tecumseh Sweater. It might be a drag to tote around such a large WIP, but thankfully I have a ‘stylish’ option. It makes all the difference — there’s definitely no better way to carry around a sweater knit in the making!