Thursday, March 05, 2009

Whispers of knitting

Believe it or not, I still remember how to knit. I know there has been relatively little knitting on this knitting blog of late, but I have been slowly plodding at it. I finally seem to have overcome the damage done to my arm by the car door last summer. It's not fully healed and I still have to stop and rest if I do too much in one go, but it's steadily getting better.

So, when I received my Spring issue of Interweave Knits and saw the Whisper Cardigan I knew I had to knit that. It would get my knitting mojo back into full swing. Lace weight yarn knit on larger needles sounds like fun.

I didn't have any yarn on hand and since spinning yarn is more fun and less expensive than buying yarn, I bought some roving from the local Spin In: Louet Thunderstorms.

The colours look very vibrant before it's spun, but the fibre is dyed in such a way that each individual fibre has two or sometimes three colours to it and the yarn becomes a softly muted heather when it's spun.

I spun up a sample and knit a swatch. As the yarn is single (one ply they call it sometimes), I don't need to spend extra time plying it; however, it is really very thin, a fair bit thinner than I usually spin these days for my three ply sock yarn. Therefore, I shouldn't be surprised that the first time I spun it, I didn't add enough twist to keep it together and had to run it through the wheel again. I've got the hang of it now even though it means that spinning it on the fast setting of my Ashford Traditional, I still have to treadle like mad and draft impossibly slow. I should have spun it on my Quebec wheel which is especially good at spinning fast, thin yarns. Live and learn.

To set the yarn before I knit it, I wound it onto my niddy noddy (my nid) and gave it a shower. I gently squeezed the water into the yarn then left it on the nid to set. When it was dry I wound it into a ball then knit a gage swatch. Then I washed the gage swatch in some clear, warm watter and lay it flat to dry. I didn't pin it to a specific shape as I always detest that part of blocking fabric and I wanted to see how it would look if I neglected that step.

The swatch, when dry, was on the bias. Instead of being a rectangle, it was more a trapezoid. As the yarn is unplyed (single strand) it has a lot of potential energy stored in it and when it is washed, it begins to release some of that energy and it twists or untwists I should say, so that the fabric, unless properly blocked, becomes slanted.

I like the fabric it produced. It was light weight and airy with a nice drape. The yarn was almost shiny and the colours merged together well. I wondered if the cardigan pattern actually called for fabric this open so I looked at the extra photos on Interweave Knits and yes, the fabric appears to be somewhat transparent so I'm on the right track. If it ends up being too open a fabric for me, I think I might be able to full it slightly once it's all knit up. But then again, the openness would be excellent for summer as it would provide just enough warmth to cut the summer evening chill when we eat dinner on the sundeck and watch the stars come out. The stars at the farm are almost as bright as the stars I remember from my youth.

As for the colour, I'm happy with this. I had originally hoped for a semi solid green, perhaps merino blended with carbonized bamboo. But this will work well. If I like this cardigan enough, I can always knit another one.

Given the speed that the swatch knit up, this should be a quick knit. I'm almost half way finished spinning the yarn for it. I'll let you know how it goes.


Josiane said...

Your yarn is so pretty! That pattern hadn't really caught my eye the first time I saw it, but now I'm very curious to see how yours turn out!

Jen said...

You have such a beautiful talent.

I love seeing the amazing things you make.

Bronwyn said...

I love your yarn so much and have heard many at KBN fibers talking about it. I am also working on the sweater but in ella ray lacewieght. I think I may make two though and the second will be spun ala Bronwyn (myself, hi). How much fiber did you start with though?