fiber arts

garter-stitch scarf and update on Wool-Eater blanket

I noted over on Ravelry that I’ve started a new project. This is an extremely easy project, a scarf which is basically garter stitch all the way through (knit all stitches, repeat). To mix it up a little, I’m using two yarns held together as one, for the first time.

This has been pretty simple, though I’ve had to check and make sure I was not throwing the yarn backwards once or twice — after a while, my brain starts thinking counter-clockwise is clockwise. I’ve also not dropped any stitches so far, which is amazing — and probably due to the fact that I’m not ever using the purl stitch, so there’s no chance of my forgetting to move the yarn behind or in front of the tips of the needles. For this project, I’m using a Bernat acrylic self-striping sock yarn (Bernat Sox, mentioned below) and a Brown Sheep fingering-weight wool yarn (I think this is technically a light-fingering weight yarn: it has 3 plies instead of 4, and was in the lace section of the LYS where I bought it).

I should mention here that I really, really see why many knitters like to use natural-fiber yarns more than acrylics or other synthetics. The wool in the Brown Sheep yarn is much warmer (and lighter, and less dense, and probably more fire-retardant) than the acrylic, and aesthetically, it’s just so much nicer to know that you’re working with a natural (“real”) fiber instead of what’s essentially plastic in the form of a fiber. I mean, microscopically, I’m sure the scales and structure of wool help to insulate much better (after all, they’ve evolved for this!) than something which is microscopically smooth.

Acrylic is great if you need really big quantities, because natural fibers are so much more expensive that a handcrafted wool blanket or similar huge project, like a cloak, would be prohibitively expensive. But I’m really having a lot better feeling about what I’m doing right now, working with the wool, than working with 100% acrylic.

Of course, the scarf I’m working on is half acrylic, half wool because of the twin yarns. I’ve made something with the acrylic before, and it does soften up in the wash. But since my Convertible Cowl (Lion Brand Homespun, acrylic) and filet-crochet (Bernat Sox, acrylic) experiments, I’m really hoping that acrylic isn’t generally a poor insulator. But I think I was told in my Fibers class that it is — in which case the wool might be able to contribute warmth that the acrylic wouldn’t otherwise have.

Hopefully, the acrylic can at least help to keep the scarf from felting and shrinking too much. Technically, the Brown Sheep yarn is supposed to resist felting, but that’s no guarantee. The most I can do is wash it in cold water and possibly by hand. But to be honest it’s probably going in on the Extra Delicate cycle, unless I can find a clean bucket to wash my wools in (and then squish them).

I also understand now why some people dislike the “pooling” of color that can happen with self-striping yarns. I’ve run into this, though I don’t know why it pools in some areas and isn’t …what’s the word… there isn’t a pattern to the pooling. The Brown Sheep yarn though is a solid color, which is getting kind of heathered in with the other, so it’s helping to break up what would otherwise likely be an annoying geometric color pattern.

The only technical problems I’ve run into so far are the twisting of the yarns together in my hand, and what happens when one yarn lies directly on top of the other on the needles. Hopefully, though, the latter will get worked out in the wash…and the former I may be able to mitigate by being careful about how I wrap the yarn around the needle.

I know, this wouldn’t happen if I were using the European Pic method. But I’m not, because I want this first project to be a success, and I’m still clumsy at European Pic. Plus, I may work at a different gauge with that technique than with the American method, so I can’t even with good conscience practice with both on the same piece.

I also restarted work on Winter’s Dust (the 100% acrylic crochet blanket) today, which went surprisingly quickly…but with that project, it really is all about chipping in small amounts of work at frequent intervals. As the project gets bigger, it seems that the work slows down, though it doesn’t; the amount of work that gets done is just proportionally smaller when compared to the whole. I probably could have at least gotten into the fourth round of diamonds if I put the same effort I worked today, into starting a new motif.

It’ll likely be some time before I’m finished with either one of these projects, but I already know that I want to do something with Irish Moss Stitch and a jewel-tone wool for a later project. I’m thinking stole. ;) I do already have a woven wool stole, I think I just love it so much that I’d like to make another. :) Six months until Fall kicks back up? ;D

And then I did find an alpaca-blend yarn recently that felt just wonderful, but I saw no price for it, so I didn’t chance it. It was almost like angora, that one.

I’m not sure how much yarn this scarf I’m knitting now is going to eat up. I’m about to break into a new skein of Brown Sheep…and let me tell you, it gets eaten up faster with knitting than with crochet. I can always get a new set of colors to pair with the self-striping Bamboo and Ewe sock yarn, if I use too much of the Brown Sheep on this project (I had not been planning to continue this current project past a sample, until I saw how well it was turning out). The thing is I only bought one ball each of turquoise stripe and purple stripe Bamboo and Ewe last time…so there isn’t a big color lot in my reserves, there.

But maybe I can practice with them and then maybe branch out into some more vivid blues or something.

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