On Giants' Shoulders

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Problem With Purple Sweaters

I've been a fan of purple off and on ever since it was my favorite color in first grade. When I got my "colors done" more than a decade ago I was pleased to discover that as a "fall" I got to wear certain shades of dark purple. I've since then had some purple shirts, but never managed a purple sweater. I guess I was too busy knitting, brown, teal, turquoise and other appropriate fall colored sweaters. For my daughter I knit red, green, and brown sweaters (only two of which were out of handspun, homedyed yarn).

A year ago at Christmas I presented Abby with a nearly completed sweater made of handspun purple yarn with a somewhat contrasting yoke (lilac with purple v's all over it). I say nearly completed because I hadn't cast off the neck, just to make sure it wasn't too tight or anything. Well, it didn't fit. The arms were too short (I'd measured the wrong old sweater for size!), the yoke was too tight. So I frogged it (ripped it back - to clarify for all you non-knitters). It was pretty frustrating because I'd already fought with the yoke more than once. Well it took me until Epiphany knitting furiously at that, but I finally got the sweater finished and Abby actually wears it a lot. There's still this one stitch in the back that bugs me when I follow her up to communion (the yarn was particularly thick there), but all in all it came out really pretty.

I loved the color so much that I decided to make a purple sweater for myself. Only mine wasn't going to be worsted weight. This was going to be a light weight sweater from a finer yarn. I spun and I spun and I spun. I hadn't realized how much longer it takes to spin two ply fine than two ply bulky. I didn't keep track, but it was way more than the week it took me for my bulky knit blue sweater. Finally I had what looked like enough yarn. I put it into a dye pot and it came out beautifully. Everything looked like it was going great. I cast on and began knitting. I took the sweater with us when we traveled to Pittsburgh to visit Duquesne, knitting most of the time I wasn't driving. Those small needles and fine yarn sure made for slow knitting. I put the project down over the summer and picked it up again when we went with Abby to Duquesne in August. Again I knit and knit in the car. When I got back it was finally time to try the thing on to make sure my previous calculations were actually working right. It didn't fit, was much too small!. So I frogged the whole thing, started over with more stitches and began again.

I got it knit to the point where the body was done up to the armholes. Then I began the sleeves. I got the sleeves done and attached them, on the home stretch, Yeah! Well this week as I was beginning to knit with the whole project together I suddenly noticed something horrible. There was a band of slightly darker purple about a third of the way up the body of the sweater. It wasn't dark enough to catch close up, but from a distance it was pretty obvious. What to do? I refuse to frog this project again!

So what is the fix? I'm not quite sure. At the moment I'm going to knit the rest of the sweater, then I'll see how to remedy it. My first thought is to redye the completed sweater by putting dye on and then heating the sweater in the microwave. My second thought is that I could clip a stitch and frog just the bottom third of the sweater and reknit it with leftover yarn (if there's enough left). My third thought was to do little v's in duplicate stitch in contrasting colors in random spots on the sweater to sort of draw the eye away from the offending color shift. So knitters and spinners out there. Do you have any better ideas? I've even considered sewing sequins all over it, but I hesitate to do that.

When I showed the sweater to my daughter this morning she told me that I was just doomed to have problems with purple sweaters. She doesn't know the half of it. When she was about two I knit her a purple dress with a lovely yoke with diamonds all over it (also for Christmas - I think there's a pattern there) I ripped it out at least three times. Maybe I should just stay away from purple!


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