Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Yarn choices?!

Excuse me for posting this picture so late but can't let the year go and another come without commenting...

This is what has been happening. We - like most of Europe - have had some more snow. The snow has been piling up on trees. The weight of snow has caused breaking brances which have been falling on power lines and cut power lines here and there have made us and many many other people all over Finland suffer from power failures. The most of the January first was spent in candle light. It is bearable if you can not turn the computer or the TV on but if you have to start about thinking what are you going to do with all the moose meat in the freezer when it is not cold enough outside so that you could only empty your freezer to you front porch, then life can become stressful. But since it wasn't freezer cold outside we did not have to worry about pipes freezing and breaking...

New Year was celebrated with fireworks and champagne. I'm having mixed feelings about fireworks out here in the wilderness, the sudden noise and flashing lights, but since the rest of the world out there is having them, so I guess we can too. But do feel for the reindeer and moose and other animals as well near by.

Under this black northern sky I did not make any resolutions. Because no matter what goals I set good things happen and bad things happen whether I like them or not, whether anyone deserves them or not and because I have had both good years and some bad years, so for the coming year
I wish to you and to us

Candlelit knitting has brought me here with the interesting and entertaining rogue hooded pullover...
I would have liked to block her already. The stockinette I'm not worried of but the cables make me wonder...I made a swatch on stockinette but did not make one for cables and this has led me to happiness with the stockinette part but unhappiness with the cables part. The reason why I'm not satisfied with cables is that the individual stitches don't seem to settle down nicely. And this is either due to too tight cauge, there just in not enough room or the yarn has stiffness that doesn't let the yarn glide and even out. I hope the blocking will take care of that.

This has led me pondering about yarn choices.

There are so many different fibres to choose, like merino, cashmere, camel, alpaca, mohair, angora, flax, cotton and a lot more and mixtures of these plus there might be some manmade fibres added. All these can be spun differently and they can be plied differently and again this adds some qualities to the final product, the yarn. Then there are different purposes for knit items, different knitting patterns, which works best with what? How can you tell?

When making socks it is fairly easy, bacause many good sock yarns are labelled for sock yarns. But other than that you have to make your own choices... If you don't buy kits or if you don't have a good LYS keeper who can guide you.

You don't want pilling, you don't want your sweaters sagging, you don't want the yarn be felted already on the needles... you do want colorfastness, you might want drape or then maybe not... lots of different things... So do you follow your intincts? If you have a long history with fibres then you can base your choises on your experience but even then you are bound to be surprised... There are new yarns coming to the market so fast. Yarns with same gauge can end up giving totally different impression in the end. So the gauge only can not be your guide.

The reason for choosing Janne for rogue was that wool with polyamid added can take lots of wear. So far so good, but I should have swatced the cables part and should have blocked it. Then I would have known more.

So to be certain this is what I should do:

Learn about different fibers by swatching and by blocking, by buying occasionally something new and unknown - and once some knowledge gained, make use of it, believe my own judgement, base my choices on them.

Give some serious thought for the pattern: what kind of wear I picture for it, is it going to be on top of something else, how often do I have to wash it, does the pattern call for draping, anything else... List those needs and rule out some fibres.

Look through the swatches when planning something new - because my memory is so short and gets shorter by the day, but if there is a good pile of swatches with good notes I still have a chance.

And all this because of rogue giving second thoughts, because I have knit shawls with yarns that are so springy that the blocking disappears as soon as you get the needles off, because of the fit being off too many times, or having drape where it is not needed. Because of the beret I did while ago ended up for ornamental use only... there are plenty of reasons...

This sounds like a lot of work but then I'd get to know the fibres, I'd get one step furher with knitting skills, one step further for fitting and wearable garments. With all these different kinds of beautiful and exciting fibers around I really can't see any other way.

So this is what I should do, but shall I. Well, I know me... a year from today I might still find myself guessing and thinking if only I'd...

PS. When I was writing this, it occurred to me that last year I bought a book Knitting in the Old Way by Pricsilla A. Gibson-Roberts and Deborah Robson and there is a chapter about yarns... Maybe I still should make a resolution: Go check the book case first!


  1. You brought up some really interesting points about pairing yarns with patterns, and its something I've thought about a lot too. I think it takes an incredible amount of experience to know intuitively which yarns will work without experimenting. I've learned a *lot* about yarn from spinning, but I've had my mishaps with making bad choices. I pretty much consider it a learning experience, file the information for future reference and try to move on without agonizing over it.

    I do think these "learning experiences" are one thing that lead to frustration for a lot of people in their knitting, and also to stashed yarns that didn't quite work for something else. I've found it interesting that in reading blogs, I've also really been able to learn from others' mistakes and sucesses. It's been a huge help.

    I hope the Rogue blocks out well. Best wishes for the new year.

  2. Hope your Rogue will turn out well in the end. The problem, when not using the recommended yarn for a pattern, is you take a risk. I am afraid the only way to avoid this is experience and swatching is a good idea. But how many of us really do it ???

  3. Anonymous19:16

    Well Lene, it just goes to show you how important swatching is and how wonderful it truly can be. Yes, I am an impatient knitter at times and just want to get started, but if I slow myself down, the information given to me in a swatch can be as much fun as knitting the garment! Even with a lot of experience, how boring it would be if we knew all of the answers to our questions before starting on a project. One of my favorite parts of knitting is the problem solving because it gives you discovery.

    So, as you can see, my suggestion is to make a cabled swatch and see what happens. Good luck!


  4. Marie N.23:12


    I am such a novice here. I think I can gather what swatching is. What is blocking? I appreciate all I can learn from your site.

    Marie N.

  5. I was mesmerized by the thought of Moose Meat thawing out....lucky it didn't happen to us on Jan 1 - it was 44 degrees celcius!

  6. I have that book Knitting in the Old Way by Pricsilla A. Gibson-Roberts and Deborah Robson too!
    and I love it! Your rouge looks like a fun knit so far.