Spring forward – but wear a parka

Happy Easter, all! I hope everyone has been enjoying their chocolate-y holiday?

Well spring has officially arrived but the weather is still unseasonably chilly and it snowed a bit again yesterday. There has been lot of swatching going on the last few weeks and I am ready to cast on a new project or two as I finish up Sakura – which is still coming along smoothly and nearly done. Look at these lovely little babies!swatches
My particular favourites (today) are the little nubbly bells on the right middle, which is a gauge swatch for Helga Isager’s Nightingale vest…

The fabric is 2 yarns held together, like a lot of the Isager patterns, and this one uses a 4ply wool with a 2 ply lace alpaca. Neither of the yarns I am using are Isager – I dyed the grey alpaca myself and the wool is a fawn Phildar Muse wool/nylon 4ply I picked up for a steal in Lyon last summer.
I can’t stop playing with these! The texture is so amazing. The resulting fabric is soft and silky but has quite a bit of structure and body from the bells. I can’t wait to get started on the vest, but have been planning very carefully for this one, as the bells kind of scare me! I want to chart the stitch pattern (I seem to work better with visual charts, as I find it too easy to get lost with text. I find it easier to see where I’ve mad a mistake by looking at previous rows on a chart and matching to the work.)  but can’t figure out how to represent the ‘non stitches’, as you cast on 8sts to form the bell. If anyone knows how to do this, or has seen a chart for the stitch – whose actual name is…I haven’t the slightest clue…please let me know! 😕

My second favourite swatch is the grey Colourmart light 4ply cashmere swatch right in the middle with a Lateral Braid stitch test. The cashmere has a bit more body than I expected, even after 4 washes to remove the weaving oils, which, frankly is a nice surprise. No light fluff, this stuff – it has a nice stitch definition but remains airy and soft.

I am hoping to make the lovely Lemon, another Helga Isager pattern, with this yarn.
Amimono Isager Lemon
Isn’t that little Lateral Braid perfect? You can see a good tutorial on the how to here. A heads up to anyone who hasn’t tried it – tighten up the  yarn as you are dropping the 2 stitches from the left needle to avoid a stretched out stitch after the braid. It took me a bit to figure it out, but this second attempt is pretty even.

3_20NM cashmere
Otherwise you get this ropey lacey effect after the stitch:
lateral braid no
The fairisle ‘eyeballs’ at the top middle of the swatches were a failed test of my still fledgling colourwork abilities for the lovely Stasis Pullover by Leila Raabe.
As you can sort of see by how much the swatch below is pulling in at the sides…
and how wobbly the stitches are, I am not quite ready yet.

But another big thank you to my completely anonymous ‘knitting buddy’ for the lovely unexpected Easter gift! I will be practicing my stranding and hope to be ready to do it justice soon!