Thursday, August 7, 2008

Challenge: Spin & Knit a sweater!

Happy Ravelympics Eve!

Ravelympics is the Olympics for Ravelers (members of the online fiber community Ravlery, if you're not yet a Ravlerer, join now!). It starts tomorrow, with the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics (8 a.m. my time) and ends on August 24 (when the torch goes out). Ravelers, like Olympians, set their own crafting goals and join with other Ravlympians to challenge themselves to complete it during the timeframe.

By the way, if I was in the Opening Ceremonies, I'd want to wear this or this, from last night's Project Runway.

I really love knitting with my handspun, but rarely get the chance, since most of what I spin goes in the shop. I've been trying to remedy that, but spinning for myself cuts into spinning for the shop and I end up selling my most favorite skeins. However, I have maintained a small stash of wool that's "just mine". Two years ago my mom gave me 24 oz. of the softest Merino wool combed top for Christmas and it has languished in the closet, because I was too afraid of it do anything with it. I've always known I wanted to knit a sweater out of it, but the prospect seemed too daunting. The Ravelympics provide the perfect challenge to get over my fear, get out the Merino and get to spinning.

My Ravelympics goal: to spin the yarn for, design and knit a cardigan.

I've "trained" by dyeing the fiber (a beautiful pale blue), pre-drafting about half of the fiber), spinning a test skein-let (I test spun a 2ply too, but realized, Am I crazy? That's three times the spinning!) and knit a test swatch. I'm getting 3 sts/in on 10.5 needles with a very softly spun single ply. I want my sweater yarn to be a little tighter spun and to be a worsted weight, so I'm not going to design the sweater just yet.

My sweater design will be similar to this garter-yoke cardigan, with the side details of Cobblestone. The challenge with spinning to knit any project is the age-old question, "How much yarn?" I found this chart, which indicates I'll need about 1,000 yards. My plan is to just spin 8-9 skeins (I normally get over 100 yards/bobbin) and then start knitting. If I've used over 2/3 of yarn for body, I'll start spinning again for the sleeves. That, by the way, is an excellent tip for deciding on yardage for a sweater you design yourself - sweaters can be broken into thirds - 1/3 for front, 1/3 for back, 1/3 for both sleeves together.

My (extremely loose) schedule is: First week - Spin, second week - knit sweater. I’ll break it up into smaller goals after I see how fast I’m spinning and how much I get done this weekend. I'll be tracking my progress, here on the blog, to keep myself accountable. I'd love to know who else will be joining me! Leave a comment so we can cheer each other on!