Knitting: July 2011 Archives
I have been compiling my Christmas Knitting list this past week and given my blog schedule, my family and getting ready to move, I have had one thought and one thought only when it concerns my knitting: make it fast. Faithful readers will know that this is nothing new for me. I love instant gratification and in terms of knitting that means within a week or two. I am not a devoted sweater knitter. Give me a good hat any day! It is with this determination and central idea that I dedicate this blog posting to Chunky Yarn and it's delightful possibilities.
When my new Interweave Knits (IK) arrived this week, I was ready for my general dislike of half the projects and only real desire to knit one or two. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that I wanted to knit 90% of the projects. Upon closer investigation I realized that this is because of the use of chunky yarns. Chunky yarns are awesome. Not only do they knit up fast but you generally need fewer balls to complete a project. I know it would seem the opposite because the yardage in each ball is scaled down as well but because each stitch goes further you need less. Typically you need about half the number of balls for a chunky sweater than a worsted weight. In the end the yarn costs are about the same but you really win when you finish in half the time. And Chunky yarn is not limited to sweaters. One of my most coveted projects from IK Fall 2011 is the Chunky weight lace shawl. It is gorgeous and no doubt a fast knit. Rugs, Afghans, scarves, hats and slippers are just a few of the many projects that shine in Chunky Yarn. I have found the desire to knit sweater renewed in me (something dead for at least 3-4 years now) and have not been this excited to knit since I first learned and held marathon knitting sessions on the weekends and dreamed of yarn while compiling spread sheets (I was in accounting before I ventured into writing). I feel excited to knit. I can feel that small ball of excitement in my belly much like a 5 yr. old on Christmas morning when I start filling my cart with Chunky yarn: "it will be so fast and so pretty. I could have my whole list done in 3 weeks and that leaves plenty of time to knit for ME!" So take a look at your list and see where you could add some Chunky yarn and save some time!
Yarns Pictured above: Gedifa Highland Alpaca, Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick N Quick, Rowan Big Wool
Scarf pictured above: Lion Brand Crochet Lacy Scarf in Wool Ease Thick N Quick
My previous Yarn Subbing post dealt with yarn weights and how to double or triple your yarn to match weight. This post will deal with another aspect, picking the right fiber. Once you have the weight squared away you need to be sure that you are swapping the right fiber to compliment your project. To do this you need to keep in mind three rules: Drape, Texture and Style.
Drape: When substituting one fiber for another it is necessary to consider the drape of the recommend yarn and the drape of your yarn. Is the recommended yarn (RY) light and airy or thick and stout? Does it clingy or fall straight. If it is a light mohair or silk blend, you want to stick with other yarns that will mimic their draping tendencies like light alpaca or angora. If your RY is thick ply cotton and you want to change it up to wool for warmth, pick wool with poly blend for density. You can judge a yarn somewhat by sight or use Ravelry to see other projects made from your chosen yarn. If it looks light and fuzzy, sleek and clingy or, tight and stout, stick with other yarns that share these draping characteristics.
Texture: Will your project feature loads of texture- neat cables or stunning bobbles- then choose a yarn that will let these features stand out. If your project will be all about color and less texture, then feel free to go with a novelty or lofty yarn (Think Ribbon or Mohair). Try to balance your texture with your yarn, the more textural detail you have going on the more toned down your yarn should be. The less texture going on, the opposite: go crazy with your yarn choice.
Style: You want to match the style of your pattern with your yarn. If you are making a really luxe looking car coat, you don't want a cheap looking yarn. If you are just whipping up a t-shirt, you don't need cashmere (unless you REALLY want it). The same goes for everything in between. Match your personal style to your yarn choice as well. If you aren't going to wear camel colored cashmere, don't get it because it is recommended or will sub well. Branch out a little but stay in your comfort zone. You know what you like and stick with it. I am not a mohair person, though I really want to be. I know deep down in my heart I am not and am not likely to wear it so I don't buy it or use it. If a pattern calls for it, I reach for baby alpaca, cashmere or llama instead. All have the delightful softness and fuzziness but I enjoy them so much better than mohair. Subbing is worth the work to find the right fiber for you!
I have seen the light and it is knitting for kids. I may have said it before but I will say it again, I Love Knitting for Kids! Why, you ask, because it is fast, fun and almost instant gratification. The time it takes to knit a project for a kid is about ¼ of the time (if that) to knit for myself. Plus, I love her so much and couple that with my love of knitting makes it twice as fun as knitting for me. The fit issues are greatly reduced (except for the unplanned growth spurt: see pictures for evidence of a very much unplanned growth spurt). I choose the Jonah Hoodie from Lion Brand because of its comfy, cozy characteristics. It looked like it would be agreeable for a toddler to wear: warm and very functional. It is all of the above. My daughter was very excited to try it on and wear it around the house. While I doubt she will be wearing this one come fall (again see pictures) but I will be making another in the next size up for the fall. I love that there are only 2 buttons but I don't agree with the placement. They are 1 row apart and butted up to the hood. Next time I will start them 4 in. down from the cast off edge and the next one 2 in. down since I will use big buttons (these are from my stash) again so she can button them herself. I will also cast on more stitches (just a few) for the sleeves so the opening for her hand is bigger. I also changed the Hoodie placement. The instructions call for the seamed edge to be the top of the hoodie but I placed the seam at the back of the hoodie because the cast on edge curved a bit and gave it more of a front-of-the hoodie look.
I also loved the yarn, Lion Brand Homespun in Parfait. It gives a Boucle like look and is SUPER SOFT to the touch and to wear. It was a bit of a challenge to work with because of the fuzzy factor but worth it since it was one hang-up every 5th or so row (not really that big of a deal but a change to one used to cotton and linen these last few weeks of summer knitting).
This is a great project to work on while cooped up with the summer heat and humidity, wishing for fall to coming all ready. It really put me in the fall mood but is not so daunting that I regret time spent. It is just the right amount to get you over the summer hump.
When you are in need of an excellent seamless cast on, you can't go wrong with the Crochet Cast On. The Crochet Cast On is a flawless cast on perfect for joins, grafting and decorative bind offs. You can use it when knitting identical halves of scarf or shawls, for sock toes or when matching your cast on to your bind off. You don't need to know to know how to crochet to complete the crochet cast on, but having a feel for the hook is helpful in learning this new technique. It is a great foundation for pick up stitches later on and is easy to pull out later.
All you need is your working yarn, some waste yarn in a contrasting color, your needle and a crochet hook. It is a terrific alternative to the Provisional Cast On, if you are short on cable needles or just prefer this method. It is always good to have a few tricks up your sleeve and more than one way to get the end result, if the end result you are looking for is a seamless join or graft!