Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Toughest Yarn You'll Ever Love

And by "tough," I don't mean "strong," "durable," or "coarse." I mean, "This stuff is going to kick my -- " well, never mind, my mother reads this blog.

Welcome the much-anticipated Andrea from Schaefer Yarns:

100% cultivated silk, 1093 yards per 100-g skein. This is what everyone expects silk to look like: shiny; smooth; beautiful clear colors. Looks as good in the ball as in the skein, too:

This color is Elena Piscopia.

Now for the bad news.

It's $52 a skein. It tangles if you breathe on it (I truly don't understand this, since it's so slippery). The needle size recommended on the label is 00. None of this deterred me. Then, I started to swatch.

I considered the Clapotis from Knitty. You'll have to take my word for it that the swatch was unsuccessful; the photo didn't come out. But the dropped stitches were too stringy and the pattern was going to bore me to death. So I tried variations on a dropped-stitch pattern with shorter ladders, working in stockinette (since it's pretty clear to me that this stuff has very little elasticity and wouldn't respond well to the ribs that are typical of such stitches):

Feh. But I did learn that it likes stockinette. Because my colorway has so much contrast, detailed lace patterns won't "read," so I kept trying for something with floats; toward the top of this photo, you can see some crazy bundles of lateral strands where I was trying to get floats without slipped stitches. (Digression: you'll note in the first photo above that most of the skeins we've got are low-contrast--there's the tonal silver-grey of Greenjeans, the denims of Everywoman--because I was trying to get colors that would be interesting but not preclude interesting stitchwork, either. My skein was sort of a random advance copy.)

Up at the top of the swatch, I finally got the hang of it: lace, but simple geometric lace. So then I started this:

A scarf, starting from a point at the bottom and expanding in pattern to a width of about 6". The skein probably has enough yardage for two generous scarves, and I am not promising to knit the second, but I didn't want to get all committed to a shawl. This was intended to be the actual beginning of the scarf, but it still has (at least) two problems: there's one row where the pattern interferes with the point-shaping increases, and the eyelet in the center of the alternate rows of diamonds isn't reading.

And to top off the frustration, the needles in these photos are #2s, and I can't see what I'm doing. These swatches took me 3 weeks. Can you say "presbyopia"?

For further tales of woe, and a very different solution, go here and see what Wendy's doing with the color known as Indira Gandhi.


Kathy Merrick said...

Crap. I'm in love. Save that pale orangey one in the middle for me, will ya, Lisa?
I'll be in Saturday and maybe one day next week.

Anonymous said...

Please warn your customers that they should not, under any circumstances, knit fine silk from the centre of the ball. It has a tendency to stick (all those clingy little silk filments), and if you pull too hard, a big clump of threads comes out from the middle and forms a tangled mass.

The best way is to put the ball into a sandwich-size ziplock bag. It won't move around too much and you can seal it to control the amount of yarn that comes off the ball.

It is gorgeous though.

Anonymous said...

well none of your readers who shell out the $52 can say they weren't warned...