The Knitting Journeyman

Gathering Up One Thread At A Time As I Weave This Web Of Mine.....

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Thing One and Thing two, Knitting Style

            All right then.  Let’s get started today.  I am on a knitting roll.  I finished my first modified ribby halter tank top, see my project details here. (you do have to be a ravelry member to see that…but it’s not that hard to join…anymore.)
 picture taken by my 9yo daughter...

            When I started knitting, the first thing I learned was just because a pattern says use *this* particular yarn does not mean you *MUST* use that yarn.  I am also one of those people who almost always knits (or crochets or sews or paints or everything else you can think of) in a different color than the pattern suggests.
            Please keep in mind, the pattern is a guide, not a rule.  You can change any and everything you want to change.
            Having said that, it did take me a bit to catch on to the fact that different yarns drape in different manners and just because I like *this* yarn for *that* pattern, that doesn’t mean the yarn I like is going to do the pattern any justice.  Maybe the yarn I picked will improve things, but when I first started out—this was sadly, more often than not, not the case.   Four years it took me to catch that…really…I knot mostly for the kids when I first started to knit.
            When I first started knitting, I used what I could afford and what people gave me, which was a BUNCH of acrylic.  Most of the gifted, and I use that term lightly, yarn was what I call grandma’s attic stash.  That acrylic garbage that has been kept in basement, attic, and/or garage for any number of years.  Either Gran got tired of hauling the yarn around, or someone else got tired of doing it for her, or, my apologies, she died…and her stash outlived her (the mythic ‘SABLE’= stash acquisition beyond life expectancy).  So, I wasn’t exactly working with the best stuff to begin with…and my yarn tended to be whatever Wal-Mart was carrying at the time, because that was the only ‘yarn store’ in town. 
            Now the only yarn I buy at Wal-mart is what I am using to make things for kids, which is nearly always acrylic.  I now understand those people who call themselves ‘yarn snobs’ when they gripe and moan and complain about how terrible it is to work w red heart super saver yarns.  After I worked up the first ribby halter: my project results here…I made E’s birthday gifts:  Little Black Riding Hood, Pink Horse, Blue Cat, Purple Slippers, Pink And Blue Braided Hat…everything she asked for…except, of course, her fairy doll…because I just could not in good faith make her a doll when I still owe A her Cheerleader doll from who knows how long ago now…
            The first rib is done in what I consider a cheap alpaca blend…but it is at least soft and pliable and gentle on my hands.  There were times working on E’s stuff—and for the most part—she is the one who picked out the yarn—that I literally had to put my work down and do anything else—sometimes just read—until the skin on my hands stopped aching and tingling bitterly.
            I’ve been more keen on caron simply soft yarns for awhile.  They are much much softer.  I like Hobby Lobby’s I Love This Yarn series as well.  I’ve tried the acrylic, cotton and wool versions.  I have been more than happy w all of them.  I get the caron simply soft when I need a light worsted yarn.  The I Love This Yarn, at least the worsted acrylic, is thicker and the yarn itself does not split on me as much as the caron simply soft is wont to do.  I recently discovered that Michaels has its own version as well, called loops and threads.  I’ve only used the impeccable so far, but it’s nice and soft.  My own personal preference is for the Hobby Lobby I Love This Yarn myself, if we have to go through acrylic, but that’s just me.
            I am developing into quite the yarn snob myself anyway of late.  Hey—I just made two halter tops for summer…and both were alpaca blend yarns!  That should say something!  Alpaca is an extremely *WARM* fiber.  A small amount goes a long way towards the heating and insulating qualities of any garment.  And here I am, currently wearing my latest creation, which is a cotton/alpaca blend.  I have been huffy of late because I am really getting into knitting sweaters that require very little finishing…and here I am, more than willing at the moment to attempt a full on winter wardrobe long sleeves and everything sweater…and of course, the warm weather is only starting this week…it’s in the high 80s to low 90s (F) during the day this week.    So I am sticking to summer wardrobe knitting only…which means I am probably going to have to really work my stash over to find yarns that are more…appropriate.  I have a ton of DK weight cotton and cotton blend yarns …I am daft enough to be thinking, 4 strands of DK weight yarn is darn near the equivalent of one bulky yarn.  Why not try it?  *Sigh*
            Here’s what I wanted to talk about today.  Ribby halter tank top number one, done in blue Bernat naturals alpaca blend.  Ribby halter tank top redone for number two in, of course, the cream colored cascade bulky leisure.  I used the exact same needles for both … as soon as I cast off one, I pretty much cast on the other, literally.  Did I knit a gauge swatch for either?  No.  Why?  I don’t care for swatching.  Yes, I would prefer to knit something, find it too big or two small and then have to find someone to whom to give it…I am that person.  Normally, things I put that much time into that look good go to the local women’s shelter.  If they look horrible, I have been known to frog them—or give them to my daughter, who loves them regardless.   However, after knitting both tanks, the stockinette stitch on both is spot on on gauge for the pattern w both.
the unfinished #2 tank side by side w the finished #1 tank
see the difference?

            When I first started knitting, I would never have thought something like this was possible.  Knit the same pattern, using two different yarns, and get *VASTLY* different results.  I love the tighter ribbing on the blue halter, but I’d worked w the bulky leisure before and knew it wouldn’t hold onto the ribbing the same way.  I am fine w that.  Both pieces have completely different drape, and not just because I altered the pattern so much for the second one.  It’s the way the yarn moves and breathes as it develops into a fabric.  The blue tank is all about sucking in and holding things upright.  I thought I might have to work a row or two of single crochet around the cups when I first cast the blue off the needles.  Once I tried the tank on, I saw there was very clearly no need to do that.  Here I am wearing the rebuilt version.  If I hadn’t sewn the straps to the back of this tank, I would have had to have done a couple rows of single crochet across the back to stabilize it.  Not that I don’t think I might not have a go at that in a bit anyway.  The cups, as I sit here looking at them, would do well with a few rows of single crochet themselves.  They are folding in at the tops, curling under as stockinette stitch does.  Now, the cups for both tops are exactly the same—except that the blue tank ties and I can crank it up or down, depending upon how I tie the ties.  That might have helped the second tank’s cup issue as well, but since I don’t really care much for ties, I did it my way.
 picture taken by my then 8yo daughter--she's too proud of herself--please ignore the baby powder on my chest though
            Now, being a female, let me say, though I would have preferred the blue tank be longer, it fits better.  It makes me look …slimmer.  The cream colored tank…is rather saggy and baggy in places I so wish it weren’t.  It makes me look rather chunky.  Now, if I can find the happy medium in between those two looks, I’ll be happy.

again, before #2 was finished, just before i started working the cups--we see the big difference in how the ribbing reacts w the different yarns

            Now, I am absolutely planning to knit this pattern again.  Why?  Because I like it.  Period.  It is a fast knit…even with my modifications.  But I am having too much fun exploring yarns and the way they drape and flow.  I am ___this___ close to going to the yarn shop up the road and just buying a bulky weight cotton to see how it knits up…but…I made that promise about having to stash dive first.  Does it not count that I have dived into my stash twice now, once for each top? 
            For my next version, I am sticking with the 12 inches of ribbing and at least 6 inches of stockinette stitch.  I may actually switch that up…6 inches of ribbing and 12 inches of stockinette….hmm…that may eliminate the bulging issue I have at the top of the ribbing where it meets the stockinette.  Ones of these attempts will end up w me crocheting around the edges up top…mark my words.  I still prefer the straps to the ties…although, depending on the stretchiness of the yarn, next time I will work 12-13 inches of i-cord and not the current 15 I have w the second tank.