Irish Moss

Irish_moss_finishedPattern: Irish Moss from Aran Knitting by Alice Starmore
Size: medium
Yarn: 17 skeins of Jamieson’s Soft Shetland
Anthracite (1050)


– Pattern calls for 16 skeins while I used 17. Extra skein was from a different dye lot which was used for shoulder panels and ribbing around the neck. Difference is not noticeable.

– Able to achieve tension mentioned in the pattern using size 4.5 mm needles.

–  Easier to obtain correct tension sample when sample did not have borders.

– Perfect yarn and pattern for splicing yarn ends so there are no yarn ends to weave into the sides.

I found this interesting Aran website called

Splicing ends

Cat_basket  Last night I was busy finishing the other sleeve and looked down to find the other pieces being used for a new cat bed. I guess that’s a sure sign that the sweater is almost done.

While working the first half of Irish Moss I joined new balls of yarn at the sides leaving ends that will need to be woven in when I sew up the sweater. However, a couple of weeks ago, while thinking about my dwindling yarn supply, it suddenly dawned on me that splicing yarn ends would work well with this 2-ply Soft Shetland yarn. It’s really easy to do.


When I have about six inches left on the current working yarn, I pull out a new ball and unravel the plies on this new ball for several inches and do the same with the current working yarn. Once the yarn ends are unraveled, I break several inches off of one of the unravel led strands from each yarn end. I now over lap these strands and fuse them together by quickly rub them between my palms after adding some spit. The friction and spit cause the strands to felt together. It’s an old trick that works quite well.

Passing inspection

The cat takes his job so seriously that I couldn’t get him to move out of the picture.

The red arrow shows  how much progress I’ve made on the back .  For comparison, the front  piece is under  it.  Irish moss back
In only a week I’ve been able to complete most of the back piece by working the pattern from memory. Look mom, no chart! At this rate I hope to have it done by Valentine’s day.

I’m ready to move on and look forward to getting back to my spinning projects. Besides, the Winter retreat is only a few weeks away!

Strategic knitting

Irish_moss_sleeve1It took about 2.5 balls to complete the main part of one sleeve.

So now the question is, will I have enough to finish the whole sweater with 16 balls of the same dye lot or will I need to use yarn from another dye lot?

Considering that the front took 5.5 balls, It will be very tough to get by with one dye lot.

This weekend I’ll take some more body measurements and see if I can shorten the the torso pieces a bit to get enough yarn  for the collar and maybe the shoulder band. If this is not possible or doesn’t produce enough yarn, then I’ll plan on knitting the shoulder band and collar with yarn of another dye lot and hope it won’t be so noticeable.

When I started the front piece several months ago I had some suspicions  that I might not have enough yarn so I did pick up two extra balls which are from yet another dye lot. Perhaps these will not be as dark as the one that created the stripe on the back piece but I won’t know until I start adding one to the project.  I tried put the skeins on one of the pieces to see if I could tell the difference but they look the same to me.

Are dye lot numbers important ?

Irish_moss_backYes they are.

Can you see the stripe?

I swear I checked all the lot numbers when I purchased the yarn so, I didn’t double check as I was winding up the balls.

Oh well, another lesson learned.

At this point I’m not exactly sure what I’ll do except that I’ll delay the frogging (rip out)  decision until after I finish one sleeve.  At that point  I’ll have a better idea of how many balls it will take to finish the sweater. The pattern calls for 16 and I purchased 17. Perhaps the  yarn godess will bless me and I’ll really only need 16.
The front took 5.25 balls  so if the back uses the same and each sleeve takes 2.5 balls  I should be ok.


Irish Moss Front

Here’s the completed front piece of the Irish Moss sweater.  Progress is slow but I guess that’s to be expected when knitting an Alice Starmore design.

My knitting tension has turned out to be spot on despite my initial swatching problems.

I think I’ll wait a few days before starting the back piece. I really need to finish up a holiday project that I started last year but didn’t finish.

Knitting surgery

It happened again. I found another mistake.  Oh, this is getting so tedious.

At least this time I was able to fix it by only ripping out a small part that was one column of 5 stitches wide and  16 rows deep.  Using a spare circular needle  I reworked all the stitches.

Irish_mossfix1_2 Irish_mossfix3

Hopefully (knock on wood), I’ll finally finish the front piece this week.

This week I’ve been spending more time spinning than knitting.  I’m working on finishing up the samples from spinning class which ended this week.  I’ll post some photos when the skeins dry.


IrishmossmistakeAlthough I was making great progress on Irish Moss, not long after my last post I found two glaring mistakes.   At about 30 rows back I forgot to cross stitches in two places. I guess that’s what I get for bragging about being able to work  on  this sweater while riding the bus.

I briefly attempted to fix the mistakes by just ripping down a few stitches from the top to avoid having to rework all those rows, but it proved too difficult.

Knitting gives one the rare opportunity to fix mistakes, so I take it in stride. Unlike other things in life, I  control my knitting projects with no definite deadlines to meet. If a mistake is obvious to me, I fix it.

Even though I’m committed to fixing my knitting mistakes no matter how daunting, I do my best not to make them in the first place. This one reminded me once again that I should frequently stop and admire my work often so that I can find mistakes as early as possible.

So, this week not much progress was made. Tonight I just reach the point at which I was before I found the errors.

Spinning Class
The first class wasn’t very exciting since it was a review of the beginning class.  We hauled our wheels and equipment to class but didn’t spin! The instructor spent the whole class reviewing topics that were discussed in the beginning class.  I knew there would be some review but I thought that we would at least get to spin. At the end of class the instructor passed out several bags of various wools that we are to prepare for next week.  Things should get more exciting next week. We’ll be learning how to use  a drum carder, combs and cards.

On a roll


I’m a knitter with a mission.

I think I’ll get Irish Moss done much
quicker then originally anticipated.  I find this  stitch pattern  so
addicting that it’s hard to put aside for any other project. While the
stitch pattern looks difficult, it’s not after a few repeats.  Since
it’s a basic drop sleeve sweater there’s no side or armhole shaping to

This week I also spun some of the fiber for the Spin-Off sweater.  Although I thought I had practiced enough, I’m finding the solid color merino much more difficult to draft. It still looks OK, but just isn’t as consistent as my previous attempts with the multi-colored roving. The difference has got to be the amount of combing. I bet that the multi-colored roving goes through many more combings than the solid color rovings.


I’m ready to learn more spinning techniques so next week I’ll start a series of three spinning class offered by a local yarn store that I hope will expose me to a wider variety of wool.  While I’m hoping to expand my skills, I’m not sure how in-depth these classes will get. Although the teacher is very knowledgeable, her approach isn’t as technical as I would prefer. Whatever the outcome, I know I will enjoy spending time with others who enjoy fiber arts and spinning.

To satisfy my technical hunger, I recently signed up for a few classes offered by Madrona Fiber Arts in February. Hopefully I’ll be able to take one class with Deb Menz called “Plying Yarns for Color Effects” and two with Judith MacKenzie McCuin called “Three Bags Full: Spinning for 3 different   types of yarn” and “The Great Sock Caper: Hand spun yarn for hand knit socks”.

By the way, I notice that Interweave will be releasing  a paperback version of Deb Menz’s book, Color in Spinning.  Yahoo!

Belle Epoque


Unfortunately, I can’t claim to have made this sweater but just thought I
would post it for design inspiration.  It’s 100% alpaca; hand loomed
(whatever that means) in Bolivia.

Not only do I love the knitted motifs but also the cut and lightweight fabric make it so much more comfortable
to wear than my heavy Icelandic Design sweater.  It’s rarely too warm to wear around the office on a brisk autumn day.

Like a true knitter, I measured the gauge which is 8 stitches to an

Here’s what I was able to accomplish this weekend. Now that I’ve done a couple of repeats it’s coming along a little faster.  I even started taking it on the bus and can get a couple of rows done during a normal commute.