Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Listen To The Yarn

Usually when I am about to embark on a new sock project I pull out the yarn or yarns of interest and set them right beside me while I page through pattern books. That way the yarn can check out the patterns too and let me know if it has any strong positive or negative reactions. (Yes, I hear yarn talking.) Past disasters have led me to adopt this procedure.

This time I forgot. Enthused over twisted stitches from my success with the Clock Vest, I determined that the next pair of socks would involve a twisted stitch motif. And, since I had been wanting to knit the Chinatown Apple Smooshy that had been languishing in the stash for ages, of course, that would be the yarn. Decision made.

What did I forget? Yup, forgot to ask the yarn how it felt about this whole idea. Here's what happened.

First, impressed with my own cleverness, I selected a motif from "Knitting in the Old Way," a book about sweaters. Uh-huh, sweaters. This "ribbonfold" pattern would probably look great on #8 needles. On 2.25mm needles it looked ridiculous. There are all sorts of intricacies within that pitiful little slanty thing, but you can't see them, because it's too small. Realizing this, I gave up and frogged. But I neglected to notice something else. Nor was I interested in anything the yarn had to say. I simply charged ahead, selected another pattern, and cast on.

The second attempt was the Snicket Socks, an extremely cool pattern. I thought the pattern would "pop" better on #2 needles, so cast on the number of stitches for a "small." Should have worked. Right?

Nope. Even with only 54 stitches, the sock was too big. And I finally realized – the pattern was fighting the yarn. I don't know if all Smooshy colors are like this, but Chinatown Apple has slight variations in hue, just like a real apple – different shades of red. The color changes got lost in the delightfully dramatic Snicket pattern. It just did not work. Sadly, I frogged again, apologized to the yarn, and left it resting quietly on the shelf next to the pattern books. When it has had time to recover, we'll try again.

But I still wanted to knit the Snicket Socks. So, I opened the file drawer where the sock yarn lives, and – wiser from my recent sad experiences – asked for a volunteer. Only one yarn was interested in trying.

The skein of "bare" Knitpicks Essential Tweed thought it might look quite nice as Snickets. It insisted, however, on #1 needles. Even then, I wasn't listening. The yarn claimed that it was not any thinner than the Smooshy, merely less tightly plied. I didn't believe it, cast on 60 stitches, and had to rip out (after only 10 rounds, though) and restart with 54 stitches. But we are now underway, looking good, fitting good. And I have learned my lesson. Must. Listen. To. The. Yarn.

1 comment:

beverlyanne said...

That was an amazing lesson about listening to the yarn. The white tweed is so obviously right for the snickett pattern, and the other was so obviously wrong.

I usually use that space for looking through knitting books for patterns. It is near the book shelves and there is a white wicker rocker in front of the desk.