Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Yarnarian Shifts Gear!

From lace to slipped stitches! Don't get me wrong; I love knitting lace, but every now and then a girl has to develop a new obsession, so this is my latest craze.

I've always been fascinated with slipped stitches, but have rarely used them in any of my projects. I did make a couple of baby blankets before elder DD was born (almost 39 years ago), but that was mainly it. I was just never satisfied how they looked. Oh, I liked the stitches, but the good color interactions just eluded me. Until now!

What's changed? Variegated yarn and self striping yarn. I adore variegated yarns, always have from way back when. But let's face it: these are special yarns and they need proper handling in order to look good. One can always do stockinette or ribbing or any of the very popular sock patterns out there. But they get boring, everybody and her uncle has done them, and besides, there has got to be more.

Slipped stitches to the rescue! You saw this horizontal one from a couple of days ago.

You should see how it looks on my leg. It's so neat.

Now how about this vertical pattern, in yet another scarf:

And these are just baby patterns. There are so many for me to play with, not just plain vertical and horizontal, but diagonal ones, butterfly ones, the list goes on and on. I'm just beginning here.

Here's the good news: they are fairly mindless patterns once you get into the swing of thing. The bad news: you have to make swatches with your yarn. Variegated and striped yarns have minds of their own, and you have to work with them. And truthfully, is swatching such a bad activity? You get to see how the colors of your yarn interact, and if you don't like the pattern with your yarn, you still get a pattern for future use.

More bad news: these are yarn users. The horizontal one I'm using eats yarn, the vertical is pretty easygoing. Some will use a lot of extra yarn, some not. The stitches will also tend to constrict the fabric, either horizontally or vertically, and in some cases, make it not stretchy at all, and you may very well need more stitches so that the thing can actually go on your foot. No big deal.

More good news: You are the mistress of your knitting. If you have a true yarn buster of a pattern, and are terrified you won't have enough, you can just use the pattern as trim, or make your socks a bit shorter. Or make your socks toe up so you can divvy up the yarn equally.

Even more good news:
Your swatches will probably lie flat, especially if you can throw in a garter ridge here and there. Scarves, and shawls, here we come. Oh and slipped stitches make very warm garments.

And the best news of all: slipped stitches are perfect for the Lazy Knitter! You just happily motor along, you don't have to worry about yarn overs or decreases, you just knit. AND, you'll get a fabric that is yours alone. Cool, huh? And best of all, you can happily buy variegated yarns and not dread knitting with them!

So, every now and then, I'll post a chart and pattern for you to play with.

Dyeing news: I did 2 of these longies simultaneously the other day, and they are both for sale. Still at the $20 price because I'm learning on them, but they looked lovely in the skein, and reskeined, they are gorgeous.

Cool Water:

Lilacs. This one has 2 knots in it, one that I had to do because it came with a teensy knot, and the second because it became snarled when I reskeined it. So this one I'm keeping, but just wanted to show it to you.

itsJUSTme-wendy - there is no doubt that variegated yarns need special handling. Lots of people don't like pooling or flashing; they don't bother me. In fact, I love it when a yarn flashes. But that's just me. One way to deal with it, is to use those 2 balls of yarn. when you're winding up from a skein, weigh the ball every now and then so that it is approx half the original weight of the skein. Start another ball. Then, when you knit, work 2 rows/rounds from one ball, and 2 from the other one. That should take care of the pooling and/or flashing.

BTW, pooling and flashing have nothing to do with the quality of the yarn; and everything to do with the dyeing pattern, your gauge and the number of stitches you're using, plus your pattern. So you and I could knit the exact same sock from the same yarn, and the sock would look different. Our gauges/size will determine how the yarn repeats the colors.

itsJUSTme-wendy - My guilty secret? I love Red Heart color combinations, but hate the yarn itself. Commercially dyed yarns can do things that we indies cannot. Those very longstripes that blend into the next section (Zauberball or Mini-Mochi) those are very very hard for us to do. I can now wind up mega skeins, but so far I've only ventured into an 8+ yard skein once. I'm in terror of the 14.5 yard skein, it will be enormous! What indies can do is glorious color combinations that no one else does. If I look at the variegated yarns of my youth and the variegated ones of today, I'd have to say that we are much much better than what was done in the past.

But then, I think that indie dyeing is a fairly new phenomenon. Nobody was doing this in the 50's and 60's, or at least nobody was selling yarns.

Now if Red Heart just didn't feel like plastic..... If only they would produce a quality wool yarn with those wonderful colors they do in the acrylic! giggle.

I think I lost the thread here. Wendy, I think we are on the same page here, but I'm not expressing it very well.


itsJUSTme-wendy said...

Like your "Good, better, best news" LOL. I love that Lilac yarn, my favorite color is purple - all shades! And purple and green is one of my favorite combos.
I also love variegated yarn!!!! But only if it is done right. I do not like the "cheap" variegated yarn that ends up as color blocks no matter how you knit it. I have heard you can use two different skeins and alternate them, I have not tried this yet, I guess I would just rather use better yarn.

itsJUSTme-wendy said...

I didn't really mean the quality of the yarn, I meant the quality of the dying. I have noticed a difference.
I know that different patterns turn out different. But.. also if I use and older var. yarn (like Red Heart) and a newer yarn from a hand dyer, they will turn out different. I think variegated yarns have come a long way. Just better is all I meant.


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