Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Stitches West 2016

"But I don't need anymore yarn" loses all meaning when you get the opportunity to go to a giant fair like Stitches. There is so much to see and touch. And buy. Nevertheless, I was quite restrained, buying nothing but two hanks of fingering weight yarn.

The yarn in question is from Cozy Rabbit Farm. It's hand dyed and soft, soft, soft! The colors are pinks and greens on a natural background.

I did a really quick swatch just to get started, and before I was an inch and a half in, I realized that this yarn wanted to be knit into something squishy. Enter "Brioche Stitch".

For those of you not familiar with this, brioche is a type of knit fabric created with slipped stitches and yarnovers which are then worked together in various ways. The construction makes a plush fabric that can look lacy when stretched or worked on large needles. You will find some different brioche patterns in stitch dictionaries, but for the mother lode, you'll want to look at the work of author Nancy Marchant. All of the stitch patterns I swatched come from her book Knitting Brioche.

First up, I tried  "Mimi's Estonian Tuck Stitch" (page 143). This did not distribute the colors well; I was especially disturbed by the pooling in the upper left and the jarring dark strands near the lower edge. But look at the stitch definition in the closeup! It's easy to imagine this stitch pattern in a plainer yarn. (Hmm, my stash contains a rose pink merino/silk blend yarn with shiny bits of silver. That seems promising!)

 At any rate, there were two choices: pick a stitch with no obvious strands or one that is all obvious strands. " Moss Brioche Stitch" (page 115) is in the first category. It distributes the color nicely and has the added bonus of being reversible. I could have stopped there, but I had already committed to working a "strandy" pattern, so I continued on.

This is "Crossed Brioche Stitch" (page 122), another reversible fabric. I had worked the previous two swatches on US 2 (2.75 mm) needles, so of course that's what I started this swatch on. It proved too easy to make errors; tinking back was useless as the very small stitches got loose and just ran. So, what do you do when the stitches are too small? I went up to US 4 (3.5 mm) needles and that did the trick. The fabric is slightly open, has a lovely drape, and reminds me of Monet waterlilies. So what will I make with it? I don't know. It's certainly soft enough to wear as a cowl, but I have enough for something larger, perhaps a shawl or shrug. The strands are strongly diagonal, so working something on the bias would be really fun; the strands could then be horizontal or vertical and I could make blocks and hold them in different directions. Gotta think about that.

  I want to mention a couple of interesting things about this stitch.

One is the way it comes off the needles. It's really scary before you block it!

The other is the true strength of this pattern stitch; it's remarkable in two colors! The link above has instructions for it in one, two, and three colors.

That's it for now! Until next time . . .

Thursday, March 10, 2016

So, anyway . . .

I turned 60 over the summer and decided that if I am ever going to produce a knitting book, I'd better get to it! I figured that if I focused on that and did nothing else, I would soon have a whole stack of designs to chose from!

I have created some really cool stuff (if I do say so myself), but not enough yet for a book. In the meantime, I've missed blogging. So, here goes . . .

 When I use three colors for a cozy, I like to arrange them to form stripes. In general, I use two closely-related colors with one high contrast color. All the odd ridges (two rows each) are in the main color which is one of the related colors. The even ridges alternate between the two other colors, starting and ending with the high-contrast one. The effect, in theory, is three-ridge stripes in low-contrast colors separated by ridges of the high-contrast color. In theory.  Although this cozy is supposed to be gold and brown stripes separated by cream, what I'm really seeing is gold and cream stripes separated by brown. This is probably because dark colors appear to recede while light colors appear to advance. Either way, it's an effect I really like.

    I occasionally make four-color cozies. In this example, the main color, black, repeats every other ridge. The secondary color, gold, repeats every fourth ridge. I carry these two colors up the right-hand selvedge as usual. The red and the white repeat every eight ridges, so I join and cut these colors every time they are used. There are a lot of ends to darn in.

    Stitches West was three weeks ago, and I haven't had a chance yet to play with the yarn I bought. I'm going to start that right now, and hopefully have some swatches for my next post. Until then . . .