I took a break from knitting Branden’s sweater last week to do a little spinning in preparation for the next project. I have some Shetland lambswool in a beautiful oatmeal color, that has been just dying for a project to go with it.

I bought the fiber at Greencastle about a year ago now, (was that only a year ago??), intending for it to be a sweater for Branden, but lately it’s been calling my name instead. Last week, I  spun up a couple of bobbins of singles, but then couldn’t decide whether I wanted a 2 or a 3-ply. So I did something unusual for me (in spinning, at least). I actually spun up a sample of yarn!

(I know…it’s just like a swatch, and I don’t know why I never do it, but for whatever reason I just don’t. Until now….)

The two yarns were plied from the same singles; a slightly high twist three-ply on the left, and a lower twist two-ply on the right. The weights came out almost identical for the two yarns, which I’m attributing to the higher twist in the three ply. They also came out beautifully elastic, which is something that I have been working at for a long time and have only gotten with my last couple of spinning samples. Fiber prep really is everything.

Tonight, I knit up a swatch. It’s a rather narrow swatch, because I didn’t make as much 3-ply as I thought I did. Still, it was enough to tell me what I needed to know.

Here, the 2-ply is on the left and the 3-ply is on the right, and the join is marked by that little yarn tail poking up toward the top of the frame. I knit both yarns on the same needle, and despite the apparent similarity of weight in the skein, the 3-ply is definitely heavier. It’s hard to see a definite difference in the stitches themselves, but there’s a huge difference in the feel of the fabric. The three ply is cushy and thick, like you’d want for socks or a heavy winter sweater. The 2-ply is lighter and has better drape, possibly because of gauge differences between the two weights of yarn. I’m thinking of a light, spring/summer cardigan this time, so 2-ply it is.

This will be the epitome of mindless knitting; a simple, classic cardigan in a very plain color at a very fine gauge. But at the end, I have something much more fun in mind.

In this case, the sweater is just a canvas for some embroidered accents. I’ve been wanting to mix embroidery with knitting for some time now, and had just never gotten around to it. Last Friday, I pulled out some linen and did some “sketching” in stitches. The central motif there is probably pretty close to the final idea, and then there are some smaller accent flowers and some practice leaves off on the side, just testing how different kinds of stitches work with the yarn that I’m using for embroidery thread.

It’s an awful lot of knitting to support a pretty tiny detail, but I think it’s going to work out well. And a lot of knitting is never a problem, right?