Monday, March 28, 2011

2KCBWDAY1: A Tale of Two Yarns

Welcome to day one of the Knitting and Crochet Blog Week here on figknits. I hope you'll join me for all the posts this week and please leave a comment to let me know you were here!

This first post prompt leaves me almost weak to resist the literary reference contained. It was the best of yarns, it was the worst of yarns, etc. It is a far, far better knitting/crochet project than I have ever done; it is a far, far better yarn I've knit/crocheted than I have ever known. But enough with that foolishness. Let's look at some yarn!

I decided to turn the prompt into meaning two yarns at once, so I spent the morning swatching. I was inspired by a sample I saw last week at A Good Yarn Shop in Port Orchard. Someone had worked a lovely lace scarf using Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool held together with Rowan Kid Silk Haze. It reminded me of something I've had in mind for a while now, and you can create your own blend this way. Technically speaking, this post involves about 11 different yarns, but I will take a look at just two at a time. Today, I could only take the time to try knitting with one certain yarn held together with three different others, all Cascade yarns.

I have had some of this old version (recently reformulated by Cascade) of Madil Kid Seta #682 in the stash for a couple of years now, wanting to try it out by holding it together with another yarn. Kid Seta, like other mohair blends of its type, can be very fussy to work with all alone. So airy! The work can be made easier by working it with another yarn to anchor it. I chose some Cotton Rich in color#1039, some Cascade 220 Wool in a plain brown #9498, and some wonderfully soft Cascade Pure Alpaca in color #3008. This last yarn was the one that I've had snuggled up in the cubby all this time just waiting to be paired with the Kid Seta, but I thought I'd throw in some others for fun. And boy was it fun!

First, I tried it with the Cotton Rich. I already love this yarn for its sturdy softness--so comfy to wear. The background of the picture is a Fundamental Women's Vest I made with it. On top you see the swatch I made with the Kid Seta alone and the one with both yarns held together. I wish you could feel what a difference the Kid Seta makes in the Cotton Rich. It adds a glow of mohair and you can see the subtle striation caused by the marriage of the two. Now it's a mohair/cotton/silk/nylon blend! These two yarns played will together with not much twirling and knotting going on.

The combo above is the one I originally intended, so I was very curious to see what would happen with this pairing. As you might imagine, soft plus soft equalled really, really soft! And the two played together very well, I am glad to report. In the background you can see a top-down cardi I am working with just the Pure Alpaca. This pairing, though, produced an alpaca/mohair/silk blend.

I also love what the fluffy Kid Seta did to this rather flat brown color of 220 Wool. It really jazzed it up. However, these two yarns did not get along very well in the process. The 220 kept kinking up, twirling back in on itself and knotting up with the Kid Seta in the process. High maintenance in this wool/mohair/silk blend!

This leads me to just a couple of tips I have to share with you about knitting with two such different (or any two different) yarns. Mind you, there are many more!

One, make sure you are catching both strands up with each stitch. It would cause some problems to inadvertently drop one or the other of the yarns along the way. In this case, the Kid Seta strand was very easy to neglect if not careful.

Two, be sure to maintain equal tension of both strands as you work. I am a thrower, so this meant I had to constantly keep both strands hugging one another harmoniously in my right hand, stopping every few stitches to adjust this.

I used a size 8 (5 mm) needle for each of the swatches above, even the one of Kid Seta alone. Size 8 is the max suggested by the yarn manufacturer for this yarn and ,indeed, it produced a very diaphanous fabric.

Here are just few other yarns from my stash that I wish I had time to try with Kid Seta. Clockwise from 9 A.M.: Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in the Golden Hickory colorway, Rowan Lima in Machu Picchu, Malabrigo Sock in Natural, Mountain Colors Bearfoot in Sierra, Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool in Burgundy, Crystal Palace Panda Silk in color #3021, and Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in Equinox.

Leave me your vote on which one you'd like to see swatched together next. Also, please let me know which of the combos above you liked best. I will try to swatch up one more of these and I might even plan a project with one of the combos. That would be terrific fun, no?

See you tomorrow for what will be, I'm sure, another fun post prescribed by Eskimimi, organizer of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2011!


Anonymous said...

What a great post! I love it when people do their own interpretations and yours is really special! Thanks for a great read!

Leah said...

Interesting take on the question. I love what the mohair brings to the swatches!

Chase said...

Thanks for a wonderful read and a great post! My favorite was the cotton and mohair combination and the one I would most like to see you do up would be the Malabrigo sock yarn.

Just popping in as part of the Knitting and Crochet Blog Week.

rachel said...

Fantastic post! Mohair is in my stash at the moment, but I'm always so nervous to knit with it, for fear of impossible frogging. These combination swatches are great inspiration. The Cascade 220 and Kid Seta look fantastic together, but maybe isn't worth the tangled headache. Would love to see it with the Crystal Palace Panda Silk, myself.

Nikki said...

What a fun interpretation of the prompt, I really enjoyed your post. I'm using some lace-weight mohair on a shawl at the moment but estimate with the large amount I'll have left I'll be able to pair it with a fantastic fiber as suggested for something different. Lovely!

Bonnie said...

I love it with the 220, even if it was a pain to knit! It looks lovely. Thanks for sharing the results of your experiments!

Anonymous said...

Really interesting :) never thought to mix the yarns like that.

Natalie said...

My favorite is the Kid Seta and the alpaca blend. The colors are so nice together. I can not wait to touch and feel all of them on thursday!

Andi said...

This is awesome! I used to love working with two yarns held together, but I haven't done it in forever.

I really liked the last combo, but if it is tangly and difficult, the second combo is almost as good so I'd go with that.

Andrea said...

What a great idea. I like the look of two yarns held together. I might just need to cast on for a new project tonight!

Mollyandollie said...

Ooooh, do it with the mountain Colors Bearfoot! I'd love to see all those colors blending. What fun you must have had seeing all these coming together...can't wait to see what you do with them!

CrochetBlogger said...

Love your post for Knit and Crochet Blog Week (which I'm also participating in this year!) Your interpretation of the prompt is unique and fun and you've highlighted some terrific yarns!

mia said...

I love your color choices. Very warm and cozy.

fig said...

Thanks everyone! Looks like I'd best use the 220/Kid Seta combo. As for trying a new one, I got one vote each on the Malabrigo Sock, the Panda Silk, and the Bearfoot, so I might try all of those. I'll be sure to show you when I do.

Audry said...

I hadn't ever thought of holding two different yarns together to get a particular look. I've doubled yarn to get a certain thickness, but not to get a particular look. I might have to try that technique some time soon.

(A few days ago you asked what yarns I used for a shawl and a sweater. The shawl used knitpicks bare, merino/silk. The sweater is made of Zealana's Tui, a possum/merino/ cashmere mix)