Thursday, August 04, 2011

Choosing Yarns for Wanda Nell, Part One

One reason I came up with the Wanda Nell Cardigan was to use some sock yarns I had in my stash. It occurred to me that there may be others like myself who have collected skeins and skeins of sock yarn and wanted to knit other things with them besides just socks. Yes, we could always make fine gauge hats and shawls and scarves and gloves, etc., but how about a sweater? I was already becoming obsessed with top-down sweaters and had begun to study Barbara G. Walker's fantastic book, Knitting From the Top Down. Looking at these big single skeins I had originally bought for socks, I realized that I could pair some of them up and have enough for a little sweater.
The first one I tried was with two different colors of Claudia Hand Painted Yarns Fingering in Shells on the Beach and Maple Leaf. I love how the two colors compliment one another in this 2-row striping technique. I chose to use the more subtle color for all the edges. Imagine if I had worked it the other way. That would have brought about a completely different look! So many options....
With my second sample of Wanda Nell, I was able to make it easy on myself and use all one kind of yarn. I had three skeins of Pagewood Farm Yukon in Sea Breeze. Even though they were the same color and from the same dye lot, I knew to alternate skeins. Earlier in my knitting life I made the mistake of ignoring those warnings to "always alternate skeins of hand dyed yarn--even from the same dye lot" with very disappointing results. Don't make that mistake yourself.

I thought it would be fun to discuss how best to choose sock yarns to use together, whether they are the same kind of yarn or not.
Note: You are about to see a glimpse of why I held myself to buying only two skeins of yarn at Sock Summit.

I generally use four points of criteria when choosing two yarns to use together, whether to stripe or for Fair Isle or mosaic stitching:

1. Fiber content
2. Twist/Ply
3. Gauge
4. Color

That last one is all about personal taste, of course, but the first three should be given careful consideration. Let's look at some examples.

These are two different colors of Cascade Heritage (75/25 Superwash Merino/Nylon), and even though they are the very same fiber content and the very same gauge and twist and ply, I probably would not use them together because one is a heathered colorway (#5631) and the other is a hand painted colorway (#9872) and more of a mix of clear colors. It would be fun, however, to use a flat grey (like #5660) with the hand painted one.
Here's a fun pairing, and I wish the colors had come through a little better--they are richer in person. On the left is Liberty's Yarn Bluetopia in Cider paired with Knit Witch Bridge to the Summit in Oregon Merlot. (Yes, two beverages.) One is a four-ply and the other a three-ply, but they appear to have similar gauges and they are both 100% Superwash BFL. Pretty close in my book.
But here is the Cider paired with some Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light. No match. One is a three-ply and the other is a single; one is 100% BFL and the other 100% Merino. I wouldn't even want to see the mating of these two, even though I love the colors together. I think I'll just let them snuggle for a while in my yarn closet and see what happens.
Love these two together, but again, just because of the color play. On the left is Lollipop Cabin Superwash Merino in #1334 and on the right is Pagewood Farm St. Elias in Bird of Paradise. You can tell by looking at them that they are different fibers, and even though they are plied similarly, these two would not create a smooth, harmonious fabric together because the Pagewood is a BFL/nylon blend and the Lollipop Cabin is all Merino. Sorry, guys. Back to your separate corners.
Now I'm totally in love with this combo--have always loved pink and gray together. However, these two won't be going on any dates because the Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in Sassafras underneath is 90/10 Merino /Nylon while the Quince & Co Tern in Columbine is 75/25 Wool/Silk. They are plied the same (3 plies each) but as with the just previous pairing above, the fabric would not have a good, continuous surface to it, I fear. Break it up, you two!

Alrighty, I fear that may be enough yarn beauty for anyone's eyes for one session. Go rinse with Visine and join me tomorrow for more pairings. This is fun!

Thanks to Natalie for taking the pictures of me in the Wanda Nells.


Natalie Goza said...

This is such a fun post! I particularly like all the smack talk after each description of the yarns being paired. They made me laugh.

fig said...

Glad to make you giggle. :-)