Thursday, March 22, 2018

Sunset Highway Sweater and Baking Sweet Breads

This is my Sunset Highway Sweater.  It's a soft watercolor interpretation of the original design which in contrast has striking details and a palpable Viking Goddess vibe.  Not that I wouldn't have liked to have been a viking goddess or indeed that it wasn't my intention to have a viking goddess sweater.  But sometimes fates conspire and what comes to pass is not what you intend at all.  And yet.  This softer watercolor version of the Sunset Highway Sweater is more reflective of my personality and one that I'll actually wear more frequently.  I also haven't ruled out revisiting this pattern someday and knitting one more true to the design.  Then again I probably won't because there are so many beautiful sweater patterns that I want to knit and I rarely knit the same pattern twice.

I knew from the start this sweater probably would not come out the way I had expected.  As soon as the yarn arrived (it was sold as a kit) I could see that it was beautifully dyed but I had a suspicion that it wouldn't have the distinct color definition needed to make the yoke design pop.  And once I began knitting I knew that I wasn't going to get a distinct pattern definition using these colors.  So I considered frogging what I had knit and substituting in solid colors. And yet.  When Steve looked at what I had knit he was in love with the beautiful colors and how they intermingled.  And so I decided to throw the dice and let the colors unfold as they may.  And I'm really happy that I did because this is a very unique and beautiful sweater.  I suspect that those who are unfamiliar with the Sunset Highway Sweater design will love this sweater and those who are a fan of the design will not even recognize it as a Sunset Highway Sweater!  Who do you think I am most likely to encounter in the real world?

You can probably tell that while I love the sweater I am a bit ambivalent about it; because it didn't come out as I had hoped and planned. Which could be a metaphor for life. Sometimes our plans don't work out but over time we look back and realize it was actually better the way that it did.  I'm not at that stage yet.

This is obviously a stranded colorwork design and there is a lot of tacking down yarn floats.  I have seen some very complicated methods to do this on Youtube videos that left me discouraged.  But there is no need for this to be super complicated so I'm going to share with you a very simple method for tacking down yarn floats.  This method works works even if you carry both strands of yarn in your right hand, as I do.  I always carry the background color over my index finger and the pattern color over my third finger.  When I want to tack down the background color I use my left hand to lift the background yarn up and over the working needle; I then knit the stitch using the pattern color; and then lift the background color off the needle and drop the strand which I then pick up again with my right hand.  That probably sounds terribly confusing but it's not really.  Play around with it and I think you'll find this is a very easy method for tacking down floats.  I'm sorry I don't know what this method is called.  I'll call it ~ the lefty lifting method ~

If you are thinking about knitting a colorwork design there are now many beautiful and unique colorwork sweater patterns out there (particularly if you are willing to knit with a heavier than fingering weight yarn).  I am currently mulling over the following choices (these are all fingering weight) Threipmuir; Arrows Down; Alyeska; and Silver Frost.

Particulars:  Sunset Highway Sweater, designed by Caitlin Hunter (Boyland Knitworks); US 2 (ribbing) and 4 (body) needles; 5 skeins Ritual Dyes, Maiden (fingering 2 ply twist) 80/20 SW Merino/Nylon, 400 yrds/100 grams (colorways: Iron (main body color), Lady Lucky, Pyrite, and malachite;  I adore this dyer's work and the yarn base is a dream to work with and I have since ordered more of her yarn for other projects.  As far as the pattern itself I knit the extra small size and my only modifications were that I knit the yoke a little longer than the pattern called for (about an extra inch and a half) and I skipped the short rows at the bottom.  But I have a small build and I've heard some say the extra small runs tight on them so you probably need to check your gauge and pick your size carefully.

Incidentally my Kobuk hat in the previous post is also by this designer ~ when you're hot you're hot ~

The last couple of years I've knit primarily cardigans but these days I'm more in the mood to knit pullovers.  If you would like to see a other pullover sweaters here are a few that I've previously blogged: Not a Jersey Girl; CalmEmily; Sideways Knitted Top; and Lily.  With my climate I don't have a lot of sweater wearing weather but there are days when they come in handy!

Baking Sweet Breads ~

Work has been demanding lately and I'm fighting a cold.  But I always make it a priority to have homemade baked goods in the house.  It's a quality of life issue and simple pleasure that I try hard not to forego. And I think during stressful periods all the more important.  I like variety so I'm always playing with new recipes.  Recently I discovered the very delicious Babka bread!  This is a versatile sweet bread (similar to a brioche loaf) that you can use with a million different fillings.  For your babka dough I recommend trying the one I use from Bake From Scratch Magazine they share the dough recipe online (albeit with a Pistachio filling).  I use Kerry Gold butter and only 9 gms of salt (1/2 tbs. versus 1 tbs) but other than that I follow this basis dough recipe (sans orange zest).  As I mentioned the choice of fillings are endless.  The loaf pictured below I made with a strawberry and coconut filling (found in Bake From Scratch's March/April issue)but a classic filling would be a chocolate filling.  I hope you have fun finding wonderful fillings for this delicious bread treat!

Until next time be well and love well.  Enjoy Spring and don't forget this is a great time to start planning sweaters to knit over the summer so you are ready for next Fall!