Pattern: ChicKnits Ribby Cardi
Yarn: Plymouth Galway Worsted Wool colors 129 (blue) and 134 (grey)
Needles: Addis 6
Size: 42/43 on pattern
Dates: Summer 05 - Feb 06
Recipient: Yours truly
Notes: The virtues of this pattern have been extolled all over blogland so I don't need to add more praise. My only caveat on the pattern is that I'm not so sure this is a perfect sweater for beginners. Because there are both plain panel and ribbed versions given, the instructions skip around a bit. It's all written out, but it does require just a bit of attention to know where to go next. Also, the neck and arm shaping sometimes gets confusing to keep track of. It's not impossible, but I could see a lot of first-timers get frustrated.
I only made minor modifications like adding a few inches to the sleeves because I like to cuff my sweaters. I also used snaps instead of the suggested zipper. I've tried to add a zipper before and um, not pretty. Even the snaps were a bit of a bugger. I tried to use the ones that go all the way through the fabric and are installed with a little tool thingy and a hammer. There was hammering, but there was no snapping. I ended up with a hole and no fastener. Luckily, I was able to catch it and do some repair on the button band, right before I threw the tool thingy and the offending snaps into my sewing basket to be dealt with on another day... notably one where I'm drinking and crafting because I'm going to have to be a bit out of it to try that debacle again.
My knitting group has been debating the worsted wools out there, Elann's Peruvian Highland, Knitpick's Wool of the Andes, and the Plymouth Galway I used. Elann and Knitpicks get the award for price, although really the Galway is comparable. Personally, I like the look of the Galway best. So far I've had no pilling or even fuzzing. It feels sturdier than the Knitpicks, maybe a little heavier although I'd have to swatch to know for sure. I also find it an advantage to buy the Galway at the LYS. The practical advantages are of course benefitting local business and generally getting a plethora of free advice with your purchase. I wrote earlier about getting help on knowing how many stitches to pick up for the button band. No, they aren't going to sit there with you while you knit the whole thing, but if you just have a question or two, the shop is pretty good about helping out its faithful addicts.
Granted, the color selection is a little on the limited side, but I'm one that likes the process of picking out my colors, lying them out on the table, playing with different varieties. It's the same with quilting. I love the process of planning usually more than the actual sewing. It's like playing dress up when you get to move around the bolts of fabric or the skeins of yarn, experimenting and enjoying the ways the colors interact. Even with a limited color selection, it's nice to see how the shades and undertones will work together, something you just don't get on the computer screen. I'll still order online, don't get me wrong, but I like the experience of shopping in the store and playing with the goods.
I do have some Knitpicks yarn to work with though so I'll keep you posted (since I know you're waiting breathlessly for the rest of this comparison study), but so far, I'm with Plymouth. (I just thought of the Lion Wool that's out there and I haven't had a chance to try it either... Hmm, more projects needed...)
Just for my own bit of bragging time, I finally got the mattress stitch down with this sweater, and although I forgot to take photographic evidence, those are some darn fine seams. Finishing really does make a huge difference.
Would I knit this pattern again? Absolutely. I could see this in a black or tweedy grey as a good fall sweater or possibly even in a lighter pink for a spring jacket-type piece to throw on for errand running. It looks a little boxy in the picture, but it fits like a comfortable, sporty sweatshirt. A lot of the sweatshirt or hoodie type sweaters out there now have waist shaping and are meant to be more form fitting, but personally, if I'm wearing my comfies, I like a little extra ease. I'm not sure if I'm fortunate or cursed to have enough, ahem, girly curves to fill out the top and make this look more like a cute sweater than a baseball jacket, but nonetheless, I think in the worsted weight fabric, I look better in a little boxier style.
So, all in all, we have a winner!