This sweater is the culmination of many fun wool adventures, starting with my first trip to Rhinebeck, NY a couple years ago. My first big handspun project, this sweater was almost one and a half years in the making, and I couldn't be more happy with the result.
Pattern: Ásta Sóllilja from Yokes by Kate Davies
Wool: My own handspun 2 ply longwool from roving purchased at Rhinebeck - 700 yards main color, 200 yards second color, 100 yds each of four contrast colors. Our Romney roving would be a great alternative.
Yarn Substitute: Heirloom Romney for a really similar look, or Lett-Lopi as per pattern
Size Made: followed pattern for a size 29" at a larger gauge of 19sts/4", resulting in a size 36" sweater
Modifications: Knit at a slightly larger gauge and went down a couple sizes to accommodate
In October 2013, Jaime and I were on our way to the New York Sheep and Wool festival--this was right after the first ever Spinzilla competition. We got a call while we were traveling that our team won Spinzilla and of course we were thrilled! I decided right then I needed to stock up on roving for the following year's Spinzilla, and at Rhinebeck I was on the lookout for a sweaters worth of roving. The beautiful fall colors of upstate New York and the famous apple donuts of the wool festival must have inspired me, because I came home with a suitcase full of coppery hued longwool roving, and a few ounces each of chocolate brown, soft mustard yellow, warm fuchsia, and bright orange wool, knowing that I wanted to spin yarn for a colorwork pullover sweater.
When the next Spinzilla rolled around, I spun up my wooly treasures into many skeins of aran weight 2-ply yarn. It was rewarding knowing that I was spinning for a project. I was able to get into the rhythm of spinning a particular type of yarn and then just go for it. I didn't spend too much time with the technical planning, but went with what felt right and spun for hours and hours and hours. It wasn't until after Spinzilla was over and I swatched my yarn that I realized I had basically made a handspun version of our Heirloom Yarn, right down to the weight, twist, plies and wool content. Haha, at least I know I like it!!
Kate Davies' book, Yokes, came out at the most serendipitous time that fall, just as I was looking for the perfect colorwork yoked sweater for my yarn! I fell in love with the entire book, but especially this pattern, Ásta Sóllilja. I just needed one more color to make it work. We had a beautiful turquoise longwool roving in the shop--a limited bit that we got in from a local farm--and it was perfect for a bright pop, and the final color. After swatching the colorwork, I realized my orange and my fuchsia yarns blended together when they were right next to each other. The value of the yarns were too similar, so I spun up a bit of a darker plum roving to replace the orange. I found that the value of the colors (dark to light) can be more important than the hue in a colorwork project.
When swatching, my handspun seemed happiest at a gauge slightly larger than the pattern called for. It is more of an aran/chunky, than a worsted/aran. (Heirloom would work great for the pattern to get actual gauge.) I calculated out what size to knit to get the 36" bust I was going for and ended up following the pattern for the size 29". That worked perfectly, with the minor adjustment of decreasing a bit more right before the neck ribbing, an adjustment which kept the neck proportionate for my size.
I love this sweater! You might be thinking, "What the heck are you doing knitting/wearing a heavy wool sweater in July?" Jaime and I took a trip up to Guanella Pass for the inaugural wearing, and this sweater was perfect in the brisk high altitude wind at 11,670'. I'm planning to get in some camping time in the mountains this summer and you can bet I'll be bringing this cozy sweater along. This sweater makes me excited for fall to return when I'm sure to be wearing it a lot. We'll be returning to Rhinebeck this year and I'll be wearing it there!
I love my finished handspun Ásta Sóllilja so much! The entire process was a joy and an adventure. If you are interested in learning the magical craft of spinning yarn, check out our Spinning Classes or visit us on one of our Open Spin Nights. Hope to see you soon!