Project marriage

I am often asked, “How do you make yarn and pattern choices?”

It’s pretty simple.  Some projects are pattern-driven:  I want to knit the pattern, so do I have yarn that is appropriate?  On the flip side, others are yarn-driven:  I have this yarn, what should I knit with it?

When you get it right, it’s a marriage.  When you don’t, it’s more of a fling.  Or a one-nighter you’d rather forget.  One of my favorite things about knitting is do-overs.  We don’t get too many do-overs in grown-up life, so I’m especially appreciative of them in knitting.  Call it fearless frogging.

Pattern-driven projects

Just because a yarn can achieve the desired gauge does not guarantee it is right for a given project.  Gauge is a starting point, and even that can be fudged.  Is the final product supposed to be drapey?  Bouncy?  Textured or cabled?  Earthy/crunchy or smooth and sophisticated?  Season-specific?

While there is always some variability, there are some fibers that are not suitable for certain things.  For example, silk, alpaca and cotton have no natural elasticity.  Over time they will stretch.  They may not be appropriate for garments that gravity will play havoc with.  But blends involving these fibers will help compensate for this, and may result in a really pleasing garment.  Entire books have been written on this subject – and one in particular merits attention – The Knitter’s Book of Yarn. More musings from me on this another day.

Yarn-driven projects

As a yarn lover, finding just the right pattern for that special skein (or bag) is a big part of the fun, and for me, the most important part of the creative process when it comes to my knitting.  You have the yarn in hand, so what to do with it?  What does it want to be?

Sundara Sock - Hot Chilies

Here is my single skein of Sundara Sock in Hot Chilies.  I favor tonal and semi-solid colorways over true variegateds.   This one has many of my favorite hues, from russet through copper through nutmeg.  It’s a fingering weight, and definitely has “sproing.”   Having never knitted with it before, I first chose to make an Ishbel Beret by Ysolda Teague.

Ishbel Beret

Part of the reason I chose this pattern is because the strong pattern in the top section would show well even with the tonal color changes of the yarn.  IRL, there is real depth to the color that gives it almost a 3-D effect.  (Gratuitous hoot here: The beret is now featured on the Sundara Stitches blog!)

Now, what to do with the remainder – at least half of the original 370-yard skein?  Short answer:  Swatch and frog as needed.

Abstract Leaves Cowl

Here is what it looked like a good part of the way through the Abstract Leaves Cowl. (Free ravelry download)  You may recall, this was one of my, “In case of knitting emergency, break glass and knit” projects.  Granted, this photo wasn’t pinned out or anything.  That notwithstanding, what do you see?  Not much.  The yarn performs fine, but the pattern is really obscured – there’s just not enough definition.

To the frog pond it went.

Spiraluscious in progress

This is much better.  Spiraluscious from Knitspot.  It has a strong pattern that when blocked, will open up more.  This won’t be the yarn screaming out instead of the pattern.  The colors will move much in the same way that the pattern stitches move.  Yes, this works for me.

Hope something here works for you, too.

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4 Responses to “Project marriage”

  1. Nanci Says:

    You included soooo much information in this post, that I feel as though I read a Cliff Notes version of a book! I learned so much, I feel like I was cheating before the test (only my own self-imposed that is). My yarn choices and knitting will improve because of what you wrote. Interesting, to the point and illustrated too. Thank you.

  2. KnittingKittens Says:

    Very good–I really enjoyed this post! Thanks for sharing some of your “secrets”!

  3. kim Says:

    I have to agree. I like this pattern much better. That yarn color is absolutely amazing. It is perfect for you!

  4. Baby, it’s cowl’d outside « Owlways Knitting Says:

    […] may remember this project from the first post about project marriage, Spiraluscious by […]

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