Thanks for all the kind words yesterday about the sweater. It's trying to dry now but it's raining so it might take all day.
After I got it finished yesterday and got everything put away, I pulled out my next cardigan project (I have many sitting in my stash right now). It will be this cardigan
(woo hoo - free pattern!) knit in this yarn
in the Exotic Red colorway. (FYI - it's not nearly as exotic or pink as the name and picture would have you believe. It's actually a pretty true red, pulling neither to the oranges or the blues, but slightly muted and more rich than a Crayon type of red.)
Since I've never used this yarn and I realize that doing two projects in a row without a gauge swatch is just asking for trouble (no, I didn't work a swatch on the first version of the sweater with yesterday's yarn, why do you ask?), I cast on for a gauge swatch. It came out perfectly on gauge but it did something interesting. It curls. Now all stockinette tends to roll to the right side because the fronts of knitting stitches are slightly smaller than the backs (I don't know why, I just know that's the way it is), so I knit a swatch and then washed it and smooshed it flat. I was pretty sure that it would be fine. So I cast on for the sweater back.
I knit. It rolled. I kept knitting. It kept rolling. I knit 5 inches of back on that thing and it kept curling up in a roll right next to the needles. All 5 inches of it. I checked my swatch again. Still wet, but still drying pretty flat. Then I picked up my swatch and messed with it a bit - uh oh, it was starting to roll a bit. Now granted, this was not a properly blocked swatch with pins keeping it still while it dried, but I don't want the bottom of this sweater to roll up to the underarms every time I wear it. I was starting to be afraid that if I wore this sweater while it was dry (which is the usual way I wear things) and moved at all while wearing it (which is nice to be able to do), I would end up with rolled edges. So, I did some thinking about my options. I do love the design and since it's written for a 100% alpaca yarn and I'm using an alpaca and Tencel yarn (neither yarn would have any natural memory or stretch recovery), I think the yarn will work for the design. I also love the yarn - it's got a nice feel to it, just a bit of alpaca bloom and the tencel should make it a bit less dense than a 100% alpaca yarn would be, and let's face it, finding a really great red is hard to do and this red is seriously pretty. So, the bottom line is that I will be knitting this design in this yarn, but I have to solve the rolling problem first.
I thought about adding a ribbing - nothing that would draw in too much, maybe a 4 x 4 or so - just enough to combat the rolling, but I'm afraid that a ribbing might not be quite enough to flatten the roll. After all, this yarn seems to take rolling to an Olympic level and I could just see the ribbing being drug along with the roll like some sort of hyperactive roller shade. No, ribbing probably isn't going to get this done. (Do you see how even though I have identified that there is a problem, I refuse to actually swatch my solutions in real yarn? I'm working it out in imaginary yarn in my head. Yep, it's amazing anything comes out right the way I avoid the swatching.)
I'm going to have to pull out the big guns for this little cardi - a hem! A hem, if it's wide enough, should fix the rolling problem and add enough weight to keep the bottom of the sweater where I want it. I've got to sit down with the pattern and do some re figuring because I'd rather attach the hem to the body of the sweater by knitting the hem in (start with a provisional cast on, knit the hem, do a turning row, start the body of the sweater, when the body is the same length as the hem, undo the provisional cast on and knit the two rows together - voila, hem attached to sweater no going back and fixing things), and knitting side seams with already attached hems is going to be bulky and messy, so it looks like I'll be knitting the body in one piece to the underarms. I'll also have to take a look at the sleeves and decide if I want to do the slight bell shaping they call for in the pattern or just knit the cuffs straight.