Monday, December 22, 2014

Dream in Color Shrug Review #2

I already did a vlog review of this pattern, but I thought I'd do a follow-up now that I've made the shrug from this pattern twice. If you missed the video, I'll post it below:

I washed the shrug and the yarn poofed up a little, so the pattern is slightly muddled until you put it on. You can see what I'm referring to in the video. The body helps stretch out the pattern, so I think I needed to use a larger needle or thinner yarn. I'm a tight knitter, and a consistent one, so I managed to get the right gauge but the pattern isn't as clear as it could have been. Oh well, the orange shrug is very warm and cuddly. :)

You can kind of see how the pattern looks somewhat obscured in these two photos (the one above and below). I think this is what might happen if I used a fluffy handspun, so if you plan to use handspun for this pattern, you should try to make a smooth, maybe even plied, yarn. Or you might change the needle size to be the next size up and make the knitting slightly tighter than it would be normally.

If you want to customize the look of this pattern further, I would recommend reducing or adding a pattern repeat in the wave pattern to accommodate your needs. This is especially useful if you want to knit this with an inflexible yarn, like pure silk or cotton.

If you dislike short sleeves, or want to remove the turn up cuff feature (the ribbing), you can make the sleeves 1 repeat longer (20 rows of the full pattern) and make the cuff half this length (or shorter!). Because there is no shaping involved, it's very easy to make these changes on the fly. If you want to make this a long sleeve, I would experiment with decreases along the edges first. Decreasing one stitch at the start of each row is a popular type of gradual decrease, though you should measure your arm to get the decreases in the right spot so the garment fits best. What I have done in the past is measured the circumference of my upper arm and wrist and calculated how many stitches I need to decrease from the upper arm to the wrist so that I get a fitted sleeve. For example, if I needed to decrease 42 stitches in a 21 inch sleeve, and there are 4 rows in an inch, I would decrease 1 stitch every other row. That will give you the perfect custom fit.

I decided to knit my next shrug with Malabrigo yarn (because it's decadent!), and chose the 50/50 silk/merino blend to make a luxury shrug. I was a little concerned about the silk content and how it might be too droopy in a shrug, so I used a smaller needle than it called for. I needed a size 8, but used a size 6 needle for this yarn. I wanted to make it slightly more fitted feeling than the wool version to counteract the inevitable drape of the silk, and the result turned out nicely. I attribute the nicer stitch definition to the yarn being thinner and unplied.

The only problem I had with this version was the yarn. Sometimes Malabrigo dye batches aren't consistent throughout the entire lot. I bought four skeins of the same dye lot, but three of the four had very different hues. One was very saturated with dark blues, one was saturated with yellows (two of the four skeins), and the third was a paler version of the first. As a dyer, I know that these things are possible. You need to be very accurate with how you apply the color to the yarn (or water) for consistent blending. I took notes on how I did this so my kettle dyed colors not only had the same hue, but also the same consistency in the kettle dyed patterns (that was so they would muddle together in the same way every time). But, I did what I could and used the darker blue for the cuffs and the paler version for the majority of the shrug.

Unfortunately, I didn't have a choice for the last bit of the pattern and had to switch to the yellow version for a few rows. It doesn't bother me too much, but I'm a little sad that it's noticeable. I could have circumvented this problem if I alternated rows with the different skeins, but...meh...I don't really care that much. I've worn this one a couple of times and no one has commented on the color issue.

The finished silk/merino shrug turned out to be about 3/4 the size of the orange shrug, which is a nice size for the yarn I used. Since it didn't fluff up as much as the pure wool, the pattern is a little more obvious. It's very sleek and luxurious, and I can't wait to pair it with a little blue dress. :)

I think the next time I make this pattern, I'll use some handspun for it. I'll whip up some light worsted weight plied yarn and 500 yards later, I'll cast on this pattern again. This will go a long way to helping me develop my own shrug pattern like this, since I'm not usually happy with most shrug patterns. What do you like in a a shrug pattern? Customizable options? Shaping? Cables? Yarn overs? Post in the comments below and I'll think of ways to incorporate them.

Happy Holidays everyone! <3