I've long been a fan of Marna Gilligan (aka An Caitin Beag) and her cat-themed designs. When a website's tagline is "if you like it then you oughta knit a cat on it", you know you're in a good place. The Spacecat Invaders jumper has been on my project list for ages but was bumped unceremoniously to second cat-place when Marna released the Twin Peaks inspired White Cats In The Black Lodge top-down sweater pattern.
Black, red, white and covered in cats? Be still my beating goth heart. Add to that the inspiration of some classic 90's cult TV and this seamless knit rocketed to the top of my list.
The majority of this design is solid black. This can be a tricksy colour to get right with hand-dyed yarn. If you want an expanse of solid, even colour - especially a dark colour - hand dyed is probably not your first choice. The joy of hand dyed yarn is in the variation so you are likely to get areas of light and dark within one skein, let alone in a sweater's worth. However, I had recently developed my semisolid blue-undertoned 'Quoth' colourway and I took a punt, thinking it would be more interesting than a plain black void of colour.
Turns out this was an excellent choice. When knitting with hand dyed yarn, it's advised that you alternate skeins every few rows in order to prevent pooling. Did I do this? Did I buffalo. I winged it. And you know what? The batch I dyed up merged perfectly. I know where the joins are, and even I can't tell by looking at the right side.
I did, however, get into a pickle with the sleeves.
I'd dyed up 4 skeins because that was exactly what I would need for my size and I live on the edge. Readers, do not do this. Always allow a bit extra - especially if you're using hand dyed, because the chances of dyeing up one more skein to match an original batch are, well, about the same as keeping a grip on what's going on throughout all seasons of Twin Peaks.
I finished the first sleeve with precisely the weight of yarn remaining that I would need for the second one. Which of course, magically became not-enough-yarn by the time I got to the cuff. A bit of unravelling - and a lot of swearing - saw me cannibalising the previously cast-off first sleeve to give me enough 'Quoth' to get through to the decreases, then I used what was left of my red alternate colour to add jaunty scarlet cuffs in place of the intended black ones. Phew.
After a record FOUR DAYS of blocking (the weather here is WET, y'all), I was able to declare 'White Cats in the Black Lodge (red cuff edition)' complete.
10/10 for the pattern, 2/10 for the completely avoidable yarn chicken peril I put myself in over Christmas.
Fancy making your own?
Yarns: Skeinhawk Yarns Polwarth Lustre DK in 'Quoth' (specially dyed batch), and undyed, along with DK Romney in 'Raspberry Red Cochineal' by Folkestone Harbour Yarn
Ravelry Project Link: Click here (opens in Ravelry)
PS If you're better at yarn chicken than me you can show off about it with the Yarn Chicken Champion tin and stitch marker set. I haven't earned this badge just yet.....