September 24, 2014

20 How To Adapt Shrinktastic Denim Yarn for a Non-Denim Yarn Pattern








I am always confused when people rave about denim yarns -- you know, the ones that shrink significantly after you wash them?  How on earth is that a good idea?!  Especially for someone with monkey arms, like moi.  Oh wait, do I hear a knitting dare?  did you just dare me??  Ok, I'm doing this.

Rowan has carried a denim yarn in one form or another for many many years.  The forms change because the mills and sources change, and denim yarn lovers really weren't thrilled with the last version "Denim" which was discontinued last year: too soft, too floppy, no good denim feel.  "Original Denim" replaced it this Spring and I got me some.




You can certainly feel the difference.  I know because I've got them both in front of me as I type this -- and the new one is strong and sturdy, like a pair of workman's Levi's.  The old one?  It's so soft that it's that pair that is going to rip a great big hole in a very compromising location... tomorrow.

Now, there aren't a gajillion patterns out there for denim yarn: specifically, patterns that account for the rate of shrinkage of the yarn after washing.  The best source by far is Kim Hargreaves's Denim People, and you'd never be able to tell it was published 10 years ago, the designs are brilliant and timless (that's the magic of Kim Hargreaves, of course!)




But Rowan also just released a booklet, Denim the Next Generation, filled with patterns by Martin Storey including my fave, Penzance Cable.




I really didn't want to do anything that complex though, and anyway, I find long-sleeved cotton sweaters to be too heavy to wear.  I wanted to be able to take *any* worsted weight yarn pattern and adapt it for denim.  So I did me some math on the gauge difference (28 rows changes to 32 rows after washing), and I'm going to give you the secret.




Let's put this in the context of a pattern:  

1) After every 7 rows of stockinette stitch, knit one extra row.  Then knit 7 more, and knit another row.  Repeat.

2) If the pattern says to knit 50 cm, knit (50cm + (50cm x 0.125), or 56.25 cm with Original Denim.  An easier calculation for this is: 50 cm x 1.125 = 56.25 cm.


I've been told by Rowan that stitches other than stockinette may shrink differently, so if you want to tackle a non-stockinette pattern, you probably want to make a swatch and wash it to really figure out the difference.  But I heard that knitting dare ringing in my head, so I decided to do something wild and crazy with a ton of different stitch patterns and show you what happens.

I chose a pattern from the Silkystones book, which is another worsted weight yarn released by Rowan last spring. This is Cascade by Marie Wallin.




It's awfully oversized, so I thought this would be ideal in case it shrank in all directions.  But to be honest, I removed a ton of stitches in width because it just looked gigantic: I went from 109 sts per side to 89!  I also followed my rule to add 1 row for every 7 knitted, adding them easily in the reverse stockinette sections.

I started this in Maine, where I discovered that those pockets in foldable chairs actually have two functions.




I also learned that denim yarn makes your hands blue!  It's easily washable and it takes a good stretch of knitting to start seeing it -- but be aware.  This also translates to washing your piece *alone* for the first time, ok?  It's going to be in hot water and it is going to bleed like a smurf.




I decided that all this would be the most informative for you if I showed you how it shrank.  So I laid the finished piece onto cardboard and traced its outline.  Then I washed it in the hottest water I had (which wasn't even the recommended 60C) and paid $2.50 at the local laundromat to tumble dry the darn thing, as we do not have a dryer in the house.






Holy crap, it had shrank like mad in all directions!  Not only that, the dye had really run off, and some of the stitches were almost white!  Let me tell you, this was not what I expected.  However, what I absolutely loved was how the stitches suddenly popped out of the top.  I mean, every stitch was tight and defined and looked perfectly performed.  OHHHHH>>> THAT'S WHY PEOPLE LOVE DENIM YARNS..






But please don't despair if it seems to have shrank too much!  Guess what?  You can get a lot of your size back if you wash in hot water but AIR DRY.  (The laundromat was horrific, I was not ever going back.)







Phew!  I must say this was a fun experiment.  Although, I might have been crying if it wasn't wearable, who knows.  Actually, on the crying side, I spilled strongly steeped Earl Grey all over the lower front of the thing shortly after all of these photos, and oh the irony: you wash denim garments repeatedly just so that they'll get this lovely fade to them (due to the overdyed nature of the yarn), but the moment you spill any color on it, it sticks like nobody's business.  There is NO getting it out, sigh.

If you like or hate denim yarn, tell me!  And tell me if I've scared you off or made you curious, lol.  


See my Cascade in Original Denim on Ravelry




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September 10, 2014

24 When In Doubt Part. 2: Turn It Inside Out! -- Alma from Rowan Mag 55








I didn't know this was going to be a series, but I should have known from my tendency to treat patterns like flapjacks!  In Part 1 of this tale, I was in doubt about a pattern, and I Flipped It.




When I first saw Alma by Carlo Volpi from Rowan Magazine 55, it really jumped out.  I loved the combo of the chunky Summer Tweed with the skinny Fine Lace and how it all jumbled together.




I used Summer Tweed but replaced the Fine Lace with Kidsilk Haze.  It was my first time using Summer Tweed and I didn't enjoy knitting with it much, BUT the look is totally unique and the smell of the raw silk is a pleasure every time I throw this baby on.  I did hear that Summer Tweed might be on the out (according to the telltale sale bin in John Lewis stores in the UK), so if you like it, stock up just in case.

The stitch goes quickly because it's a slip-stitch pattern, but as I was working on it, I realized that I Very Much Preferred the "wrong side" of the pattern.






It was neater, smooth and looked like fancy colorwork without the actual "work"!  Hmm.  I didn't have to decide until seaming, so I carried on.  The pattern is a large rectangle and moves right along, I really enjoyed it.

All finished, I canvassed the crowds: our fabulous Rowan Love Ravelry group, my Facebook Page and... the final critic, my husband.  Most preferred the wrong side, and my husband said about the right side, "Yuck, that looks like the bottom of my shoe."  Dramatic, that is he.






Yup, I was going to TURN THIS SUCKER INSIDE OUT.




This top fits right into current fashion: oversized, shapeless, decorative.  Over a mini-dress it's perfect!






Don't neglect to do the crochet edgings all around, they really make the piece.  It was my first time crocheting with Rowan Cotton Glace, and honestly after these edgings I caught a bit of crochet fever!  (If you like crochet, you might want to check out my collection of Japanese crochet patterns I am slowly putting up on a special Pinterest board.)

I crocheted the bottom a little tighter to bring the hem in like a bubble top.  So cute, I love it.




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AND NOW FOR SOME FANTASTIC NEWS!  


Image from The Seasoned Plate, mmm.

We've been busy popping champagne in the Dayana Knits household, because it is CONFIRMED, we are moving to a new life in Bar Harbor, Maine in December!  My husband will be starting an Assistant Professorship (he's a scientist and you can read a little about his research here) and I'll also be continuing in science, hopefully with a biotech twist.  We're excited for a million different reasons, but here are a few:

1. B. worked his ass off through untold hardship for this success, it is so well-deserved!
2. We are more than ready to shed the Urban Life and live by the sea.
3. Mount Desert Island (where Bar Harbor is), is the home of Acadia National Park, a real treasure.




4. Maine is a crafter's paradise, seriously.  Everyone crafts!  Your dog crafts!
5. We are finally growing up.
6. I do really freaking like blueberries.





Do message me if you know of any knitting peeps around the area, I'm always shy about integrating into a new community and would love to chat.


See my Alma, Inside Out on Ravelry





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