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 . . .

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