Lighten Up Your Knits! A Rowan Cotton Glacé to Truesilk Switcheroo
I've always had trouble knitting with cotton. It's my left side that can't take it. Something about the way I push my stitches along the needle stresses my wrist, and cotton never wants to play nice when traveling down the needle. Even if I dipped my Addi Turbos in Teflon, the little suckers would still require coaxing to come down!
Back when Rowan released Studio 32 I fell in love with the cover design Sandy by Marie Wallin. I loved the Fibonnaci-esque stripe progression and the fact that it was intarsia.
But then, it was written for Cotton Glacé, and I wasn't ready to flirt with carpal tunnel. I waited a bit and was rewarded by the release of a new Rowan yarn, Truesilk... which dun-dun-DUHN.... was the identical gauge!
Ooh this was good. First, Truesilk is 100% mulberry silk, and let me tell you, I have nooooo problem pushing those slippery delicious stitches down my needles. BUT even better, the yardage was much longer per ball because silk is lighter than cotton. Did I mention that I also don't like heavy garments? Here is a post I made about a tank top that was heavy enough to be an X-Ray blanket.
|Poor lady. Nice bangs!|
By my calculations, Sandy needed at least one ball less of each color in Truesilk than Cotton Glacé, taking 100g off my back. NOW: this is not a money-saving maneuver. Truesilk is the ultimate luxury yarn, and yes, it will cost you. But let me take a moment to describe this yarn to you and pique your interest, because it is really unique:
1. The silk is woven into a chainette structure which completely changes the properties of silk you are used to: elongation and no elasticity. Because the chainette collapses on itself like a tape, you end up with THE most elastic fabric you could imagine. I swear, it's like I knit me up some spandex. This stuff will never elongate when worn, I can't imagine it is possible!
2. While the silk is smooth in the ball, it almost takes on a rough texture when knit. I've never seen something that is both silky smooth and textured at the same time.
-------> There are a couple of downsides, which are solved with care:
1. The fibers of the chainette easily catch on skin and nails. If you have any hangnails or badly filed nails, do not touch the yarn or your piece until you fix the problem. If just one fiber catches, the chainette will kink. This happened many times for me because I don't take care of my hands. If this happens, snap the yarn taut and roll the needle up and down through the kink to help it straighten. It won't always work, so be prepared to cut and start a new end. At first I was mad about this, but then I remembered all the delicate fashion items I have that need just as much care when worn (@%$# earrings and rings!). You are paying for silk because it is silk, and silk comes with a price no matter what the form.
2. Because we are dealing with a slippery fiber, the cut ends of the chainette can unravel in a flash. I mean //blink// and it's gone! Abracadabra! How to deal with this:
When you cut an end, tie a knot near the end.
When you come back to weave it in, cut the knot.
Weave in the end, leaving enough yarn so that you can make a knot right up to the edge of the fabric.
Inserting your sewing needle will help get it closer to the fabric.
|Deborah Kerr can't believe you said that.|
(I discovered that a foot pantyhose, the kind you use for trying on shoes, worked excellently.)
Everything slows down when you get to the moss stitch top (which is quite lovely), because you need to increase your stitches and use a smaller needle to get the right look.
I wanted to improve the sleeves from the original, as I thought they were too wide. For slim sleeves, I always turn to my top-down picked-up short-row sleeve technique. See the instructions here. They came out well.
I also made sure to stop the sleeve above the elbow because I didn't want wrinkles in the silk.
Truesilk might not be for everyone, but I simply love the feel of this top. It was a pleasure to knit with as long as I was delicate! I really recommend it for those of you who really want to create a haute couture fabric for special occasions, which you won't find for sale in any store.
See my Sandy in Truesilk on Ravelry