Saturday, August 02, 2008

On Yarn, Names and a Freebie.

In the past few months, the color striping geniuses at Noro have come up with 2 new yarns, Kureyon Sock and Silk Garden Sock.

Kureyon sock is a 70% wool and 30% nylon blend and Silk Garden Sock is a luxurious blend of 40% wool, 25% silk, 25% nylon & 10% mohair. Although of a slightly different fiber percentage and blend than the other yarns in the Silk Garden line, the hand and appearance are pretty much the same. Like the other Kureyon and Silk Garden yarns, both are singles -- there is 1 ply per strand. The colors for each yarn currently represent the best selling yarns from their respective lines.

So, lets talk about that name. Kureyon Sock was the first to hit the shelves in the spring and immediately got an undeserved bad rap due to its behavior when knit -- especially when in the hands of "tight" knitters. Silk Garden Sock is brand new this fall, and seems to be a bit stronger and more consistent in spin than the Kureyon Sock, which has an ever so slight variation in weight in the strand. The nylon in both yarns adds strength to the protein fibers and the properties of the singles and lighter weight makes the yarns wonderful for fine accessories, shawls and sweaters, but -- although we have seen many a beautiful finished pair on the internet -- not ideal for socks. (And in the case of the Silk Garden, not a "sock yarn". Period). Instead, lets forget the name "Sock" for a minute and focus on the actual yarn qualities.

Kureyon Sock comes in beautiful striping colors, exhibits wonderful drape when knit slightly looser than the recommended 30 sts/4" and is great for textured stitches. Due to its fiber content, it has a little more stretch and give. Silk Garden Sock is heavier than the Kureyon Sock -- after swatching a few different stitches on size 3s, 1s and 0s I believe it is ideal at 5.5-6.5 sts/inch -- has lots of texture in the singles due to fiber content and spin and is very soft. It also, again due to fiber content, has very little stretch but beautiful drape and hand.

When Kureyon arrived at the store, Jen immediately cast on for a pair of socks. (She knits socks. It is called Kureyon Sock. Perfect). This made sense but didn't quite work out. Instead, using some knitters intuition she let the yarn do what the yarn wanted to do. She paired a classic pattern with the modern yarn and produced a beautiful small version of the Landscape Shawl.

The shawl only took 1 ball of the Kureyon Sock and is an interesting play on the construction -- the horizontally knit diagonal eyelets and textured "V" segments are broken up by the color stripes in a really neat way.

I, too, was hit by Noro Fever when the Silk Garden Sock arrived a few weeks ago and immediately cast on for a Fair Isle beret. This also made sense. I knew the Silk Garden Sock wouldn't work for me as a pair of socks. I love berets. I love Fair Isle. My vision was a contemporary take on a classic design -- my favorite way to knit. Perfect. One very long week, a numb hand, and some beautiful yet way-too tight and completely non-functional corrugated rib on size 0s later, I changed gears and let the characteristics of the yarn speak for themselves. I went up a few needles sizes, turned to garter and let the yarn do what the yarn wanted to do: drape.

The end result is a simple, yet effective, triangular kerchief (not quite "shawl" sized) in alternating stripes of two highly contrasting colorways. The increases are placed in a way -- as opposed to Jen's Landscape Shawl -- that creates a diagonal stripe as you go. In sharp contrast to my rock-hard corrugated rib, when washed, the yarn bloomed and grew and has really beautiful drape. (I am still determined to Fair Isle the yarn -- I am not sure what it will be, maybe an epic sweater, a hat on the right needles, or mittens, but I am sure there will be no corrugated rib or a size 0 in sight).

At Rosie's we spend a lot of our time helping customers finding the right yarn for the project at hand. It is always exciting when the match between pattern, personal taste, desired characteristics and end product comes together with the perfect yarn. Many variables come into play and it is important not just to look at recommended gauge, or name, and really look at the yarn itself, its behavior when knit and the properties that make it stand out as the right match for your needs. Everyone is different; if knitting socks out of either of these two yarns worked for you, then you have found the right match. If not, don't immediately dismiss either of them as vehicles for potentially beautiful handknits.

If you would like to knit the Landscape Shawl, come into Rosie's and we'll set you up. It is a classic, fail-safe and wonderful shawl pattern that is highly customizable to your desired finished measurements and yarn gauge and suitable for both beginner and highly experienced knitters. If you would like to knit my Silk Kerchief, you may download the free pattern below:


1 comment:

Tola said...

i actually made a pair of socks out of the new Noro Kureyon Sock, and i love them! i went up a half-size on the needle, to compensate for the non-superwash-ness, and i like them a lot. however, i do want to make a shawl with it, so ill be in to get some!