Color work and swatching the craft store!

Thank you to everyone for your kind words on Veste Everest!  I don’t know if I will have time to respond to all of them, but I do read them all, and they are very much appreciated (my local FO audience consists of Marc and 2 very unimpressed cats.)

I don’t really do New Years resolutions, but in the spirit of the new year I have decided to try something that has always intimidated me… color work!

This is one nearly completed Transition Glove, pattern and yarn by Shibui knits.  The pattern is lovely and easy, and I do like the colors I chose.  Although… I now see what people mean by Shibui sock’s tendency to pool.  It’s very odd for a semi solid, but it doesn’t bother me.  The color work itself was pretty easy once I got started – for once I am glad that I learned throwing before continental!  I can only do it in spurts because throwing hurts my hands more.  I’m working on my tension.  This glove is mostly ok, but there are a few rows with longer floats that are not as loose as I would like.  The glove will fit (I tried it on to be sure!) but it could be looser.

And yes… teal.  I give up – I just love my teal!

During my breaks in knitting this glove I have been engaging in one of my favorite activities – swatching!  First I swatched the Louisa Harding Impressions for the Diane Cardigan. (Diane is my middle name!)

I’ve never used a yarn exactly like this – it’s a ribbon, but it’s twisted with a black thread and some mohair, so it doesn’t twist like ribbon yarns sometimes do.  It makes a really lovely fabric, and although you do have to watch not to catch the black thread, overall it isn’t too bad.  I’m going to try to size the 34″ size down to a 32… it looks pretty easy from the pattern.  I’ve decided this probably will be my next sweater, but don’t hold me to that… I want to finish the transition gloves first, or I will never complete them.

If you have been haunting your local craft store lately (as I do) you may have noticed the trend towards more natural fibers.  Lion Brand has an organic cotton, and Bernat has a whole series of natural yarns, although almost all of them do have some acrylic content.  I also get Crochet Today magazine,  which is published by Coats and Clark.  I have noticed lately that their Moda Dea line had some interesting new natural yarns, and I was interested in trying them.  Unfortunately, neither the Michaels or the Hobby Lobby in town carry much in the way of Moda Dea – they only carry the novelty yarns, and not many of them!  So when I got a free shipping coupon from Herrschners I decided to order a few of Moda Dea’s yarns to try out.

The first yarn is a worsted wool/silk blend called “Silk n wool.”  It’s 85% wool and 15% silk.  I’ve crocheted a swatch with this because, as you can see, I’m planning to make the “Chanson en Crochet” capelet from Wrap Style.  I maybe chose this color because it’s called Wasabi… I’m not saying.  The yarn is lovely – it has a slightly uneven, tweedy quality because of the silk, but it is not at all rough or difficult to use.  I did test it out a bit for knitting as well and it was lovely.  It’s a pretty new yarn, and right now it comes in 8 colors, all of which are (to me) very usable.  I can’t wait to crochet my capelet – I am imagining wearing it over sleeveless dresses this spring!  This is the corrected version, available free for download from Knitting Daily -there are tons of errata in the book!

The second yarn is called Bamboo Wool.  It is, as you might guess, 55% wool and 45% rayon from bamboo.  It knits to 5 st/in on size 6 needles for me, but I suspect it would be nice knit looser or tighter than this as well.  This color is called Blue Velvet, and it’s a lovely non flat blend of blue and purple.  Again, I really like this yarn.  Unlike the last bamboo I used (Rowan’s bamboo soft) this yarn does not split at all.  It’s smooth and cool in your hands.  In fact, I cannot really detect the wool content in this yarn, other than the fact that it has more spring than pure bamboo.  I am planning on a little bolero out of this yarn, although I have not yet chosen a pattern… I am thinking perhaps the free ribbed lace bolero everyone was making last year.

The last yarn is called Fashionista.  The color show here is berry red – it is a little less bright than shown, but my camera hates reds and greens.  This is the only yarn for which I have mixed emotions, and the only one with any acrylic content.  It’s 50% acrylic and 50% tencel.  I’m a big fan of tencel, but I’m finding that my love for it varies based on what it is mixed with.  Fashionista has a really unusual feel in the hands.  It is a bit like chenille, but without the annoying tendencies that chenille sometimes can have.   It’s soft and slightly fuzzy.  It is not splitty at all.  I have several crochet patterns that call for this yarn, but I must say that I hated it for crochet.  It tended to snag on the hook, and the stitches were hard to see.  I was ready to give up on the yarn until I tried it with size 8 needles.  Ah… much better!  It knits easily to 4 st/inch.  I suppose, then that my 4 balls of fashionista will have to go for a knitting project.  I am thinking that it will become the Briar rose bolero, a pattern which needs 4 st/in, a gauge which my stash is almost entirely devoid of.

I bought this patten quite awhile ago, but as I said I didn’t have any yarn that would work, and I wasn’t wanting to buy any specifically for it.   I fear looking like a giant puffy sleeved tomato a little bit, but I think it will be ok.  I have narrow shoulders so I think I can handle the puffiness.  I am not over the bolero yet, so I don’t care if fashion is.  I waited for years and years for Boleros to come back in style, and I’m not giving them up!

Whew… what a lot of swatching.  How I love it!  I’m pretty impressed  with moda dea.  I want to try their washable wool next.  There is a CAL on craftster for a crocheted blanket – 1 or 2 squares a month – and I want to use a washable wool, since we have determined that I can’t use pure acrylic, but I want it to be washable.

I am very encouraged by all the natural fibers we are seeing on the market – there should be affordable natural choices for all knitters!  Perhaps I will review the Lion cotton and some of the Bernat yarns soon .   Also – Hobby Lobby?  How is it that you have 5 aisles of yarn but no room for any of these?  I cannot believe that many people are buying all those Yarn Bee novelty yarns.   I would really like to be able to shop locally!

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19 thoughts on “Color work and swatching the craft store!

  1. Ah fashion, smashion…who has time for it. Knit what you love, even if it means a bolero every year. This is what I adore about handknits…it doesn’t really matter to me if it’s ‘in’ or not, as long as it makes me look fabulous!

  2. I love the colors you’re using for the gloves. They’re gorgeous! May I ask, who makes the bolero pattern? It looks like something I’d like to make for myself.

  3. I have been eyeing the Shubui gloves too. I can’t wait to see how they work up.

    Thanks for the swatching/reviewing. It always helps to read a first hand experience.

  4. Thanks for the reviews on the yarns. I love trying out new yarns, and your reviews are so helpful. I probably never would have found the Moda Dea yarns on my own. I will certainly give them a try.

  5. Where did you get that skull plate?! I love it! That colourwork in the glove is amazing, I love the gradation from one colour to the next.

    I’m not sold on the red for your bolero, but you have a way of making those bright colours work!!!! And boleros are fabulous, I don’t care what any magazine says.

  6. The fact that you admitted color work intimidates you made me feel so much better. Seeing that you are such an accomplished and talented knitter, and yet you are still challenged is great. (I am afraid of colorwork and plan to conquer that fear in 2008 as well.) The mitt is beautiful, as are all of your projects.

  7. I grew up in a small town and was long frustrated by the lack of “good” yarns out there within a short drive away. Now that I’ve moved to Atlanta, it’s much better. Sounds like you need a big city nearby! 🙂

    I wish I loved to swatch as much as you do. It looks like you have some beautiful projects coming. Oh, and gorgeous work on your first colorwork attempt!

  8. I am knitting this pattern too and sadly I am much less talented than you. The sleeve/shoulders aren’t as poofy as I expected/how they look in the picture. I can’t wait to see your progress!

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