Tuesday, November 12, 2019

There's Something About Stripes...

NORO Silk Garden
Photo: NORO website
For the last several years, yarn that's been "space dyed" -- that is, dyed with spaces between colour runs that are either a different colour or are left white -- has been very popular with yarn-crafters.  Sometimes the yarns are created by hand-painting them, and sometimes the dye 'recipe' is carefully planned and the dyeing method and equipment calibrated to create a specific pattern, from clear-cut stripes, to jacquard or Fair Isle imitations, to slightly blurred tonal effects.

One of the pioneer creators of  "self-striping" yarn is Eisaku Noro, whose unique methods are still in practice -- and from whom other yarn makers were inspired to travel down the same colourful rabbit hole.

Pattern: First Fair Isle Anything
Designer: Irene Ramalho
Yarn: Katia "Darling" (coloured)
and Patons Kroy Sock (black)
However they're made or by whom, these yarns hold a fascination for yarn-crafters.  They provide an endless source of  "what next?" to those knitting or crocheting otherwise plain garments, like socks or mitts or hats.  They inject interesting colour combinations into projects that use solid colours -- especially black -- in contrast.  And they make us want to keep on working on the given project long after fatigue or boredom might have set in, long after we should be somewhere else, and/or long after bed-time.  "Just one more row!  I want to see how this turns out!"  😊

As a dedicated sock knitter, I simply love knitting socks with yarn that creates stripes or patterns.  I use a variation of the Sock Recipe from Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's Kniting Rules, and I never fail to be entertained.

Here are some examples:

Yarn: Online Supersocke 6-fach Arizona Color
Pattern: A Good Sock Recipe - Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

Yarn: Lana Grossa Meilenweit Tirol
Pattern: A Good Sock Recipe - Stephanie P-M

Trekking Socks
Pattern: EJ Slayton for Brown Sheep Company, Inc.

See what I mean?  Such fun!  And with the changes you make -- in number of stitches, in knitting style -- in the round versus back-and-forth for the heel flap, and turning the heel and shaping the toe -- the effect of the dye run or painted sections changes.

You never know what to expect!  This year, I'm knitting socks for my kids for Christmas (yet again).  I've selected yarn from Ancient Arts called "Reinvent" (because it includes pretty much everything but the kitchen sink) -- from their "Meow" and "Woof" line, honouring animals.  My son has two "tuxedo" cats (black and white) and my daughter, a Maine Coon.  I started with the socks for my son, casting on 72 stitches per my usual for his feet, and using my favourite 2.75 mm (US 2 +/-) needles.


First off, what resulted was...zebra stripes!  

And...they were ginormous. (That is, totally huge!)

For the second sock, I down-sized to 64 stitches...and this is the result:

Ah-h-h-h-h...much better -- and more like a "tuxedo" cat!  What a difference reducing the number of stitches can make with this sort of yarn!  And look again at that second sock.  D'you see the heel flap and gusset area around the ankle?  See how different it is from the rest of the sock?  That occurs, of course, because in that area the stitches are divided up for the heel flap, and then picked up and knit again for the gusset and then around and down the foot -- till you get to the decreases at the toe, where the colour pattern changes again.

Any wonder that self-striping or patterning yarn is such a delight to work with?!

That's why this week -- for our Super Special Sale -- we're offering you a sport/light DK weight striping yarn that would make beautiful items for Christmas giving:

from Louisa Harding

80% wool
20% silk
50 grams = 250 metres (273 yards)

Regular Price: $14.00

Sale Price: $3.50

Now...with that fibre content, this yarn is not recommended for socks!  But in the short-term, it would make wonderful fingerless mittens, like these ones I made a couple of years ago:

Yarn: Amitola - Colour #109 ("Salsa")
Pattern: Shepherd's Fingerless Mittens
Designer: Brenda Dayne

Or...this cool cowl -- made with one ball (!) from a pattern (a free Ravelry download) aptly entitled "Present".  

Some of our Knit Night "regulars" have been contemplating making the "Alaska" hat designed by Camille Descoteaux -- and at least one Ravelry member has done just that -- using Amitola as the background and white for the contrast colour (353 metres, or one-and-a-half balls).

If you have a longer-term project in mind, you could use Amitola in more than one colour-way to make a very cool cowl -- "The Shift" designed by Andrea Mowry...or perhaps a shawl...such as "Waves of Color", adding contrast yarn to recreate the popular (but challenging!) "Butterfly" or "Papillon" pattern.

Whatever you choose to create -- from the simple to the complex -- we're certain you'll be challenged, delighted, entertained and perhaps even enthralled by the results.  Happy striping!

Oh ... and Passport to Christmas starts today!
Make sure to pick yours up so you can enter to win up to $1500 in Lacombe Bucks!

See you in the shop!

**Written by Margaret, who's quickly re-knitting that first sock to match the second, and loving every stripey minute of it!

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