Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Newest Sweater and Some Musings

As promised here is my latest sweater. It is from the same book as the other two--Best of Lopi. I used "Ecology" wool from Cascade for the main color and then left-over's for the accent colors. I thought it was kind of ugly as I was knitting it. After all the main color is quite drab. But when I finished it and put it on I was pleasantly surprised at how great it looked! I am loving these sweaters!! I have come up with a reason that I like them--NO SEWING is involved! I have avoided making many things because sewing was required. Not that I can't sew; I've quilted and sewn many items over the years. I just hate sewing up sweaters!!! I swear it takes as long to sew the darn thing up as it took to knit all of the pieces. These Icelandic sweaters have just a few stitches under the arm that you graft together and that is it! The entire sweater is knit in the round from the bottom to the collar. As I mentioned in the last post, I have yarn to make two more sweaters. Both of them will be out of Lopi yarn. I am so anxious to make them I about can't sleep at night! I've never made anything with Lopi brand yarn and I have seen advertisements that it is the warmest wool out there. I can't wait to compare it with the Australian brand yarn that I made the first two sweaters with. I will let you know if it truly is the warmest--I have tried just about every brand of wool yarn on the planet.

Now for the "Musings". Every winter I find myself doing this--in fact I may have posted about it before--I begin to look around at what people are wearing to keep themselves warm. I see small children in nasty acrylic knitwear that I know is not keeping them warm. There are teenagers on the ski slopes wearing very trendy hats, ear warmers, maybe even sweaters made in various third world countries out of the cheapest, scratchiest, worst wool on the planet (that's right, there is such thing as "yucky" wool). I walk through the malls and shopping centers and see racks and racks of trendy/holiday/fashionable sweaters, socks, mittens, gloves, hats, etc. all mass produced and just like the ones in the store next door and none of which will keep you very warm or comfortable.

During all of this I am wondering, "What are people thinking?" Do they think that ALL knitted items are the same? Is that hat the reason you think all wool is scratchy? Is your childs hat the reason you think that knit items don't really keep you warm? Do you go by that polar fleece junk because you think it will keep you warm in sub-zero weather? Did you spend all that money at that fancy sporting goods store for those socks because the tag says they are the warmest? HB even get's caught up in the notion that "commercially" produced fabrics and knitwear can rival hand-knit items even though he KNOWS it doesn't.

When I go to make an article of clothing or an accessory I ask myself, "Who is going to be wearing this? Where do they live? What temperatures could they encounter? Will it be wet and rainy, windy, snowing, below zero?" All of those play an important part in not only the style of the item, but most importantly WHAT fiber the article will be made from. For example: HB has an earflap hat I made for him a couple of years ago when he was spending almost his entire work day outside in various Colorado locations--some as high as 8,000-9,000 feet elevation. This hat is made from a black yarn--a blend of cashmere, merino wool, and silk. I knit it with needles that would be considered much to small for the bulky weight yarn I used. Why this particular style, fiber content, and needle variation? Because:

1. Black colored clothing will soak up any sunshine and help keep you toasty warm no matter what the temperature drops to.

2. Cashmere, merino, and silk are all very fine, very dense fibers. These fibers are known to keep you as much as 8 times warmer than regular wool (WAY warmer than the acrylic junk!! or polar fleece).

3. Smaller needles than what you would normally use to get gauge with a particular yarn will produce a firmer, more dense fabric. This makes the hat water and wind resistant. HB has actually worn his hat out riding our ATV in the snow and wind up in the mountains and his ears never got cold.

You see, hand knit items, especially when the knitter knows the purposes and uses for the item, are FAR superior to anything you can buy in any store anywhere.

I also spin yarn. Which means that I can get REALLY carried away with the details that go into making an item. I can make the yarn with any blend of any fibers I want. If I need extra strength--hemp, extra warmth--angora or cashmere or silk or all three. I can hand pick the wool. Just because something says it's made from wool DOES NOT mean it is going to be just like the other wool sweater or socks you have. Even wool from the same sheep can vary from year to year depending on it's diet, the climate, the weather, etc. Hand picking the wool ensures that you are getting all of the qualities you want to incorporate into the hand-knit item.

Sorry, I do get very carried away when it comes to the society we live in being slaves to whatever is for sale in the store. There are so many people out there that think they have to endure cold feet, hands, ears, etc. because they have given up finding something warm to wear. Me, I look forward to winter! But then........I knit!


Awesome Mom said...

Not everyone has the time or desire to knit like that. I really wish I had the time to knit up a pretty sweater for me and my kids but life has gotten in the way and I also choose to do things with my spare time that do not allow me to knit as much as I would like. I do know that when I am buying something premade but knit I pat attention to how it is made and with what. I don't want my kids in scratchy wool or acrylic. Most of their knit sweaters are cotton which is easy to wash and will keep them warmer than acrylic.

Tama said...

I realize that. It's just that I hate it when people complain about the poor products on the market and think just because "ready made" clothing is low quality that EVERYTHING knit is low quality. I don't really have time to knit like I do. But, I don't watch tv, my kids are all teenagers or grown up, I knit in the car, at appoinments, and in the store. I have found that you have time to do what you WANT to do no matter what.

Tama said...

PS: I have a regular 45 plus hours a week job. So, really there isn't much spare time in my life. It helps that I am a fast knitter, I don't have to watch what I am knitting, and I like projects that are portable and fast though.

Carol VR said...

I agree we can all find the time if we make the time and also agree that quality is better than quantity.

Hege said...

That's a beautiful sweater! And I like to knit without to much sewing too ;) I've been meaning to knit myself a new jacket, but with all the work finishing the thing i haven't even casted on yet...

And I knit in every spare moments too ;)

Have a great weekend!