Thursday, March 03, 2011

Into Trouble

Ha! Hahahaha! What, you may wonder, is the excuse for this excessive glee? It doesn't take much. My teleconference for today got cancelled, so here I am.

If I see a yarn I love, I tend to but large quantities of it. I hate the idea of the yarn speaking to me of afghans and sweaters and finding I have only enough for a scarf and hat. This acquisitive disposition of mine gets me into trouble sometimes often usually.

My greatest downfall is hand-painted yarn. I'm a repeat member of the 10K club at Eat.Sleep.Knit.'s Yarn Marathon. I get a visceral sense of satisfaction when I've made the half-marathon and thus achieved free shipping for the rest of the year.

This is all a lead up to Yarn Pr0n disguised as epiphany.

I bought this yarn, Sweet Georgia Knits Superwash Worsted in Cypress from the aforementioned Eat.Sleep.Knit.

I want to knit it up. Into something. I just don't know what. I set out to do a gauge swatch, a simple little 6 inch square. Then I started thinking. I hate when I do that. Thinking about how this is superwash yarn and can be expected to expand under the influence of blocking. Thinking about the nature of hand-dyed yarn, where even the same dye-lot can mean variations between skeins so great you wouldn't even call them the same colorway. Thought about the lines of demarcation that can result between such skeins in long stretches of stockinette. Thought about circumstances where I could live with that and where I couldn't. Realised I wanted to turn this yarn into a sweater, which behooved me to take my swatch a little further.

Did I say a little?

A tour seems called for.

Bottom section - done before thinking started. Straight-forward stockinette stitch from a single skein of yarn, really just testing out needle size. This marked the moment when I strove to get the recommended gauge, but not the moment when I thought about the superwash aspects of the yarn.

Next section - ribbing. Ribbing makes me think, perhaps because I get so little satisfaction out of knitting it. It made me think I probably ought to try to mix up the skeins if I wanted something resembling a homogeneous product (yes, you can use "homogeneous" for something other than dairy products; I looked it up).

Which brings us to the next section and this is all mixed up. Toward the bottom, I'm alternating two skeins of yarn, knitting two rows from each. Too stripy. Then I added a third skein and knit one row from each skein, just like the Island Embrace Blanket. This left me with an almost overwhelming desire to stab myself with my knitting needles and I still didn't like the look of the fabric. I went back to knitting from one skein on larger needles, taking refuge in trying to get gauge.

Shortly after which I put the swatch away and tried to pretend I didn't want to knit with this yarn anyway. See Aesop and the Fox and the Grapes.

I was going to stop the story there, but I won't. Time passed and I kept ignoring the yarn and the swatch, until this week. This week I remembered the lost Scribble Scarf and how Kay and Ann set up the pattern to produce stockinette stitch, even if you only use one row of a contrast yarn. It all hinges on circular needles. With circular needles, you knit across, slide the row back, and knit the next row.

Okay, this is the epiphany part, the top section of the swatch. On circular needles, I can knit from two different skeins of yarn and get a fabric that preserves the subtle variations in color without getting all stripy about it and without engendering a death-by-knitting-needle-wish. I knit one row from the first skein. Slide it back. Knit a row from the other skein. Turn the work. Purl one row from the first skein. Slide it back. Purl one row from the other skein. Ta-da and repeat Ad infinitum.

1 comment:

Diane H said...

Brilliant once again. Homogenous knitting from a heterogenous source and method.