Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Forensic knitting

Sometimes, no matter how innocent it looks just sitting on the arm of a chair, knitting goes wrong.

Very wrong.   So wrong, you have to assess all the ways in which it did that, to avoid it happening again.

In the case of my orange hat, several factors came into play - starting with the fact that the available yarn was limited to 100g of handspun.  Often with a hat you'll need to tip over into 110g of yarn, and the only way to do that when you start with 100g of hand dyed handspun is to find a complementary Other Yarn to help eke things out.

I did find backup yarn as I ran out of my handspun - knitting frantically fast, as if it would make the yarn last longer so I'd know as soon as possible if I was going to run out really - but it wasn't a perfect match for weight, colour, or fiber, even once it was held double.

Still, it was just a few rounds at the top.  Not necessarily a dealbreaker, right?  HA.

Another problem was the needle size.  When I knit something that works, in a yarn weight I expect to use again (in this case, bulky handspun: it's so much easier for me to spin bulky yarn than sport weight), I will often leave the needles I used in a bag with my pattern notes so I can replicate it more easily later.  This time though, instead of the 4.5mm needle set I used for a lot of handspun hats last winter, I mistakenly picked up a 3.25mm combination which was just - well.  Too small.

I don't know why I didn't notice that, fighting every single stitch as I was and not finding any elasticity in the yarn At. All, even though I'd spun it myself and watched all that springy twist embedding itself in there.  But I kept thinking It'll work! It's going to be a nice dense knit that no wind will get through! and I kept going.


Then too, the stitch let me down.   I really, really wanted a super textured moss stitch for this hat, but I thought some lace to open up the fabric a bit would help me get more mileage out of the yarn, so I added in a lace panel.

With tiny needles for bulky yarn, I knew this was unlikely to help, but I didn't think it would turn out quite so obnoxious-looking, like some sort of bizarre flame tiara.  I mean: why?

Lessons learned:

a/ before you start, make sure you have enough yarn.  find backup yarns for extra distance ahead of time so you can work them into the fabric mindfully as you go.

b/ do a gauge swatch and be sensible about needle size for the yarn weight you are using.

c/ big needles and plain or, better still, open lace stitches will help a yarn go farther.

d/ be open to ripping out and starting over.

Criminy, that looks better already, doesn't it?  And it went on looking better still - not to spoil anything but it did come right in the end.  And it's SO COMFY.  I'll show you the Finished pictures soon!

Meanwhile: hope your day is comfy too and I'll see you tomorrow.


Laurinda said...

It was a valiant effort to save the knit! That's my favorite pattern to use with my handspun, too. Be sure to check out my granddaughter's xmas hat on Rav- your pattern brought out the best in that yarn!

Mary Keenan said...

Oh, your hat did come out really nicely Laurinda - I love the bit of sheen in your handspun!