Monday, October 21, 2013

Showing My Stripes

Or M's as the case may be. Here's the scarf I'm knitting for her:


More deets in this post...
I have to say, now that I've learned how to do stripes, I don't know how I'm ever going to knit anything monochrome again! I've got about 12 colour schemes in mind, including nature's perfect combo - beige and navy.

M saw me working on this (she asked for yellow and red, and this is as close to that garishness as I could bring myself to sit with for 10 plus hours) and said: That looks very Harry Potter.

You should know, I missed the whole Harry Potter thing. I didn't read the books. I didn't watch the movies. Sorry, I just don't care about Harry Potter. But a quick Google search does corroborate her perspective.

I nonchalantly tested the waters on this. So, said I, Is Harry Potter not cool? I swear, you can never tell with this child what's old and crappy. I held my breath cuz I'd spent 70 bucks on this yarn and a few hours, at this point.

I am pleased to report that Harry Potter is awesome, and whomever thinks otherwise sucks. Apparently.

A Bit About the Construction:
  • I used this tutorial (with hand out) to figure out how to carry the non-working yarn because I have no appetite to weave in 70 plus ends. It's worked very well. You can see the yarn on the wrong side of this scarf, but because I have slipped the first stitch on every row (to neaten the edge), the last stitch curls to the back slightly and totally hides it.
  • "Slipping the first stitch" has never seemed particularly impactful to me (yeah, I hate that manufactured word also, but I'm too lazy to search for another) but I'm really seeing it in this plain, stockinette pattern. The tutorial, linked above, explains how to align colour-work with "neat" edge stitching technique when you're knitting FLAT, not in the round, but it doesn't articulately distinguish between the two basic scenarios you'll encounter when knitting a stripey scarf, in stockinette, having clean edges. Those are:
    • Scenario A: Rows when you switch from one colour to another
    • Scenario B: Rows when you're continuing, from the previous row, in the same working colour
  • Very briefly:
    • Scenario A: You actually knit the last stitch of the row prior to your "new colour" row in the new colour, to get things set up. Then, turn the work, slip the first stitch of the next row (for neatness). Only then, between first and second stitches, do you wrap the non-working yarn over the working yarn to "carry it up" from the previous row, so when you need it again, it will be there. Then, natch, start knitting with your working colour.
    • Scenario B: On rows when you're not switching colours, on the side that has the loose, non-working strand (generally the right-hand side of the knit row, but not necessarily), you'll still need to wrap the non-working yarn over the working yarn after the first (slipped) stitch. Otherwise, you're not "carrying it up".
  • When I started to knit, I vowed I'd never make a boring, plain scarf - that seemed like the worst way to learn given my nature - but as I know more (and as I can apply the techniques more confidently), I realize that a plain scarf can have a lot of appeal. Particularly when knit with the right yarn.
  • And speaking of yarn, I used the Madeline Tosh vintage yet again. You know I like this yarn, since it's over 20 bucks a skein and I've bought 4 skeins in the last 2 weeks. I don't know how to explain its appeal. It's not super soft. It's not the most beautifully dyed yarn I've ever seen (though the dye is expertly applied). It's not "good value" yarn. But it knits up beautifully. I can tell, already, that it isn't going to pill. It's got excellent spring which produces that beautiful stitch definition and awesome recovery. There's no halo (I hate hair halos). It doesn't lose its shape in blocking. It's durable, but refined. It's a joy to knit with. 
When I think of comparisons between the Tosh yarn and others I've knit with, here's what comes to mind:
  • The yarn has much more spring than Cascade 220 - and I'm not dissing on Cascade (which is affordable for most and very adequate, if cheap and cheerful). It's spun more tightly. (Note: I have NO idea about how things are spun, so feel free to tell me I'm high on drugs. I'm going by how it feels...)
  • It's MUCH less scratchy than Brooklyn Tweed - but then, just about everything is. It's also less delicate and softer. It doesn't have that hipster-meets-granny appeal, however.
  • It's a lot like Quince in some ways - it's got that same kind of springy thing happening and very nice, if not "high-end" hand. But Quince's colours, while saturated and delightful, do not come close to the saturation and complexity of Tosh yarns. Of course, Quince isn't hand-dying tiny batches. It's affordable yarn for the masses.
  • When first I started knitting, I was extremely drawn to Debbie Bliss. It was so soft, affordable, pretty - and I still think the fingering is quite nice to work with, especially for baby things. However, I knit many things with Bliss yarn - every one of which grew stupidly the minute I blocked it - and never reverted to normal size or previous shape (well, everything except the gauge swatch). On reflection, Bliss yarn, with its whacky plying, is a bitch to knit (I'm using the last of my aran stash now, which is how I know). It splits ridiculously. The Tosh yarn would not understand splitting if you showed it a video of someone knitting with Debbie Bliss yarn. It's like "fit" yarn. It's beautifully symmetrical and toned.
So, anyone else here worked with Tosh who wants to weigh in? Do you like the scarf? Let's talk!

16 comments:

  1. OK, I wasn't going to say it, but since M already did - Harry Potter was my first thought when you showed the colors the other day! And Harry Potter IS awesome! I've just finished book 6 and am 2/3 of the way through book 7 - I'll be sad when I finish!

    And yes, I do like the scarf! I may end up copying you someday :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I must be living under a rock?! Is it wrong that I get JK Rowling and Candace Bushnell mixed up?

      Delete
  2. We saw the first Harry Potter movie while we were living in London and that was great fun, but I haven't actually read any of the books or seen any of the other movies.

    Thanks for the link to the tutorial on how to carry another color. I just winged it when I did some stripes recently. ;)

    Lois K

    ReplyDelete
  3. I was holding my breath right along with you. . . glad to hear that M's more than okay with a Harry Potter scarf!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dealing with the most capricious teen on the planet brings some anxious moments...

      Delete
  4. I knit my daughters scarves when they were little--one in a green and purple stripe with pink handmade pompoms that were promptly torn off by the two-year-old (she also peels the wallpaper off her bedroom wall at 11; hurrah) and one in pink with some white knit stitches at planned intervals and purple pompoms for the elder daughter (5). They lasted for years and I cannot imagine having the energy/time to knit another pair of scarves. Glad I have photos.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, those sound so cute! And what's with the kids and the impulse to deconstruct things?? I keep photos of everything, for just the same reason. I want to keep my options open :-)

      Delete
  5. Blame it on me: I never read or saw any of the Harry Potter books/movies so when you picked the colours in the store all I could think of was that bikini I mentioned. Glad to hear he is cool and that M approves (you must have been so relieved). As for Tosh yarn, I'm in love. I've not knitted with vintage, but the DK and Sport weights are fantastic: springy, hardy, soft and beautifully saturated. And it washes so well you can tell garments made from it will outlast all of us, just maybe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! OK, I will! You have to try the vintage yarn. It really is amazing. No doubt, I have to try the DK :-)

      Delete
  6. It;s looking good! and yup, HP is the very first thought that popped into my head too. The books are absolutely brilliant, they didn't get to be the world's most popular series for no reason! our whole family gobbled them up as soon as each one came out. We used to squabble over who could read the newest book first! and as soon as one person laid it down someone else would pick it up... there were several bookmarks in the current book at any one time! we all thought the movies were pretty ordinary though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really am out of the loop! Maybe I should engage a little...

      Delete
  7. I am also glad to read that you like Tosh yarns as much as I do! I kind of feel like a Madelinetosh groupie ;) I am stuck in the Tosh DK line and can't seem to stop buying it. I have been eyeing the Vintage, and I am glad to know that it will please as well. I did go out on a limb this spring and bought some Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran to knit a sweater (which the sad beginning is still just languishing on my needles), now I am a little nervous what the end result will bring.

    I love the stripes, by the way! I need to try my hand at that next!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maggie: They're awesome! And you and Andrea are totally selling me on the DK. Gotta say, I'm no fan of the aran for a sweater. That stuff is too unreliable to spend that amount of time making something with it. I've got a few sweaters made of Debbie Bliss yarn, and they're all too big.

      Delete
  8. It looks so pretty! I was at the yarn store the day you picked this yarn up...and I have been so curious to see what it would look like! Amazing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's great, yes? Wait till it's done!

      Delete