The crocus sweater was growing steadily, right up until the beginning of the week. I was sailing down the home stretch to the cuff on the first sleeve, and went to get my last skein of yarn to start working two balls together to blend the colors. Except there was no last ball. Or, rather, there is a last ball, and it appears that I’m on it.

I was sure I had only used four skeins so far, but I’ve looked everywhere and can’t find the 5th. I’ve counted ends in the sweater, but since I was working two balls at a time for most of the sweater it’s hard to tell for sure how many are in there. So here I am:

And there is only a half a ball (about 100 yards) left. The sweater is already pretty well fitted, and any tighter would be too tight for what I wanted. I could bring the hem up an inch maybe, but no more. I have a tiny bit of unspun batt left over (in case there was a need for some creative color blending at the end), but it’s only a fraction of an ounce. I don’t really want to increase the width of the colorwork in the sleeves and body, and I’m not sure how much yarn that would save, anyway. I could pull back and reknit at a looser gauge, hoping to stretch the yarn just a little bit further. I could try increasing the colorwork band at the neck, or I could spin up and work in another colorway to help stretch the yardage. But as of right now, no matter how you cut it, I don’t have enough yarn.

For now, my plan is to stall and hope that extra ball shows up. I’m pretty sure it’s not here, but hope springs eternal. I’m not 100% in love with the yellow band near my face (yellow has never been my color), so maybe this is simply an opportunity to redesign the sweater into something that I’ll like even better. Fortunately, it’s on big needles and hasn’t taken long to knit, and I’m a process knitter at heart anyway. Before I rip, though, I’m going to let it sit in time out for a while and see what comes up.

In the meantime, I’ve been playing with this:

That’s the yarn I bought at Steven Be’s in Minneapolis earlier this summer. That crazy neon yarn cried out to me, and then I chose the green and purple to balance it out and tone it down. The pictures today are horrible, but you get the idea (we had a rainy day and I didn’t have time to futz with the camera and lighting…it was a post today or post in 2 weeks kind of deal, so ugly pictures it is). I’m playing with a wide slipped stitch motif  for a hem decoration on a striped/two-tone stockinette ground. The two ends of the swatch are the slipped stitch pattern with a forward-crossed stitch; the one in the center is a simple fairisle. I like the sharpness of the slipped stitch version, and the dimensionality that the slightly raised slip stitches give to the fabric. It looks like the neon is peeking out through a lattice of the darker yarn, and I like that effect a lot. I’m currently planning on a linen stitch derivative for the hem of the piece, since it won’t roll easily and should be firm enough to stand up to the slight pull of the slipped stitch pattern at the ends of the rows.

Combining linen stitch, stockinette, and a twisted slip stitch pattern in one piece is a bit tricky in terms of gauge, though. On the left end of the swatch, I used the same needle throughout, and the gauge varied markedly from one section to the next. Even after a fairly firm blocking, the fabric has a tendency to pucker and curl at the transition from one stitch to another. The pattern on the right was worked with three different needle sizes; the larger size 1 (2.5 mm) for the linen stitch, the smaller 2 size (2.75 mm) for the stockinette, and larger 2 size (3.0 mm) for the slipped stitches. (I’d like to say here that I find it absurd that there are six different needle sizes between 0 and 3 in my knitpicks harmony sock needle kit. I love having a series of closely spaced needle sizes, but the metric naming system makes so much more sense!)

In any case, the final effect with the three different needles was much better, and the final fabric is much more even in the later part of the swatch, though the stitches are a little loose for my liking. I preferred the slightly tighter look of the slipped stitch pattern worked on the smaller needles, so I think I’ll probably shift the whole series down one needle size to get a slightly firmer gauge. Since I’ll also be switching to Addi circs for the final garment, this calls for yet another swatch to see if their size 0, 1, and 2 are similar enough to the Knitpicks size 0, 1, and 2. (Or should that be 0, little 1, and big 1??)

More soon, hopefully, but so far I’m liking how this is coming together!