Tokyo by Ruth Homrighaus
- My handspun yarn - made from Enchanted Knoll Farm Alpaca Silk Merino Batts & Purple Fleece Falkland Top (~372 yards / 109 g per skein), ~1.1 skeins, colorway "Turkish Delights"
- Knit Picks Gloss Sock Yarn, 70% Merino Wool, 30% Silk (220 yards / 50 g per skein), ~1.58 skeins, colorway "Cocoa"
- US 2 (2.75 mm) Knitpicks Circular Needles
As you may have guessed, this is what I mentioned I was working on with my handspun yarn in the last post :)
Ruth's Tokyo pattern has been tempting me since she first posted her gorgeous version on her blog. Initially I had planned to use another handspun yarn for this project, but when I swatched, I noticed there was not enough contrast between my chocolatey handspun and the solid-color Knit Picks Gloss.
With one ply of white Falkland added to a ply made from "Turkish Delights" Enchanted Knoll batts, I found the contrast that my original choice lacked.
...and here's a peak at the "wrong" side:
I worked Ruth's pattern pretty much as is, however, I decided to add some variously spaced stripes of the handspun, as I was worried that the bands at the top and bottom provided a little too much contrast (there's that word again) to the much darker overall effect of the main pattern. I think it worked out nicely.
The top is worked in two identical pieces, front and back, starting with the garter stitch band at the bottom and working upward. There is no waist shaping (everything is strictly rectangular), but the garter band (which I knit on the same size needles as the body) provides some welcome width over the hips and the rest of the body seems to fit nicely (with a little stretching of the pattern evident over the bust area).
Ruth gives tips on adding shaped side panels to accommodate a larger bust, but I decided I wasn't well-endowed enough to warrant that, so I'll just have to live with a little stretching :)
When you get to the sleeves, Ruth has you cast on stitches to achieve the extra width. After front and back are finished, you just seam up the shoulders and the sides. It's a very simple and beautiful design.
Here you can see a little of the color variation within the handspun yarn:
There are shimmery red, magenta, green, and copper strands in there in addition to some luminous cream-colored silk, and it's actually quite a sparkly yarn (though you may not be able to tell from the photos).
I've received a few questions about my blocking set-up. I use a 4 piece "high impact" tiled mat system that I found in the sporting goods sections of a Target store a while back. I see that they're now selling a 6-piece set online.
The pieces have interlocking edges and can be placed in several different configurations, according to the shape of the item to be blocked. As you can see, Tokyo only required a single tile.
The foam works well with blocking pins, and it's nice not to have to worry about getting the carpet or a bed wet in order to block something. To dissuade my cats from lounging on blocking garments, I have taken to placing a bunch of extra pins a few inches apart over the whole thing. I can also lean the tiles upright to dry if I don't want to spare the floor space (all those extra anti-cat pins help support the damp weight, so the garment doesn't stretch out).