Tuesday, September 30, 2008

We Interrupt this Tank Top

For some urgent knitting.

There's a big event coming up in Yarnstruck's world. I have felt for a while that it might call for some knitting, but I couldn't put my finger on exactly what. But a couple of days ago, while doing my appointed rounds of admiring knitting projects on the web, I bumped into a little wisp of something that seems just right.

The pattern called for a big-box-store yarn, in worsted weight. I went and looked at it, but decided this project needed something nicer; a touch of warmth, a touch of beauty. I headed for a local yarn store. I browsed, consulted the staff, and cogitated, looking around at the obvious, the unexpected, and the over-the-top. I finally settled on an option that I hope will work well.

I'm combining two yarns: a laceweight alpaca and silk and a fingering weight superwash merino wool. Specifically, it's Alpaca with a Twist Fino and Dale Baby Ull. Even together, they don't quite add up to worsted weight, but, well, that's why they make different sizes of needles. I figured I ought be able to get gauge, one way or another. And, oh, what a beautiful soft swatch they make.

I haven't worked with alpaca before. The alpaca and silk have a languorous drape. My first hint of this came when I untwisted the skein to tease loose an end to play with, and retwisted to put the skein back together. Try as I might, I couldn't seem to get enough twist in the hank of yarn to pull it through the skein. As soon as I brought it together to pull through, it was suddenly loose and relaxed. It seemed to lounge its way right out of the twist. Once I realized what was going on, it was interesting to watch. I'm not sure how much influence it will have, though, on the fluffier, less drape-y merino, once they're knit in together.

After the illustration of how the alpaca and silk yarn behaves, I decided I daren't wind it into a center-pull ball. I had a feeling that, as the yarn in the center was pulled out of the ball, it would quickly collapse on itself in a tangle. So I made an old-fashioned ball, and I put it in a bowl to knit from. There it can roll around as the thread pulls off, without tumbling onto the floor and skittering away picking up dust to sully the pristine white.

With the original worsted-weight yarn, the pattern calls for US size 7 needles, but after swatching, it appears I will be choosing between US sizes 10 and 10 1/2 to get the closest to gauge. Will I be better off trying to knit a little loosely with the smaller needles, or yank harder on the larger ones? I think it might hurt my heart to pull fiercely on this delicate yarn, so that might decide it.

In the meantime, I'm admiring the knitted result. I think it's very pretty the way, if you look closely, the soft wool fabric is shot through with the gleaming threads of alpaca and silk.

Working with lovely fibers, sometimes, feeds the soul.


Bess said...

You are full of teases this week. What are you making? Is it a secret? What is the special event? Hmmmm? Tell please, as soon as you can.

lovelovelove alpaca and silk. sigh. I'm spinning some lace weight on a drop spindle with that combo.

Knittin' Diva said...

Beautifully said.....lovely fibers certainly do feed the soul. Although I haven't tried alpaca and silk blended together, I have knit with them seperately, and love them both for their luscious softness. Can't wait to see what you are knitting :-)