Monday, February 15, 2010

On the Dawn of a New Project

It is one of my cardinal rules that I never start another project until I've finished the current on I'm working on. It's my way of keeping track of needles, of yarn and of where I am in each project, and it motivates me to keep going on something so that it gets done in good time. This is a good thing most of the time, but it means that each time I start something new, I experience this period of giddiness, and relative confusion. What should I work on now? Out of the millions of plans floating around my head, which one will I follow now?

Oh bountiful stash, what treasures wilt thou bestow on me this day?

It's funny, because during my last project (which I can't talk about until I give it to the person it was meant for), I had all these plans to work on the Featherweight Cardigan. I'd wound the first skein, and was making plans for a lace design on the back of it. Yesterday, I sat down next to my yarn basket, and well... I started exploring.

A couple of hours later, I was lost in yarn utopia. What do to with all these lovely balls of yarn?

I've had a new beacon to guide me these days to help me with all these lovely decisions. It's a book called The Knitter's Book of Yarn by Clara Parkes.

For those of you who haven't read it yet, this is a great book to help you understand more about yarn, and more than that, why it does all those weird things that you observe during projects. Why the heck, for example, does a cotton blanket knitted in stockinette and bordered in garter stitch end up being wider on one end than another? How come some yarns pill and some don't? What is the best project for those huge cakes of Estonian two-ply fingering weight wool?

Here's an example. Case 1: behold the skeins of Malabrigo Silky Merino in Loro Banquerro (I love the name of this colourway - makes me think of a guy in a sombrero making fun of the local gringo. "Hey, Paco. Look at that loro banquerro. Snicker snicker.)

These skeins have been sitting in my basket for almost a year, languishing in their gorgeous colours. What project could I make to give justice to such unique colour-blending?

A month ago, when I first got The Knitter's Book of Wool, I opened it up and started reading from the beginning, then started browsing through the book in general. And here's what I learned:

Silky Merino is a single-ply yarn. Because it's made up of one ply I should stay away from a project that only uses stockinette, to prevent the fabric from slanting or biasing. Because it has silk in it, it's going to have lovely drape and sheen, with unexpected warmth, I should choose a project that doesn't have too many open stitch patterns, so that it can hold its twist. The wool is going to help to keep it elastic and lofty. And because that wool comes from merino sheep, the scales on each fibre are so numerous that it will be soft and lovely against the skin.

Ok, so now what?

Well, I decided to make a long scarf like this:

This is the plaited basket weave stitch. Close stitch, lovely texture, and a great way to show off a variegated yarn. It's not the quickest stitch to perform, but I don't have it done anytime soon. I'm enjoying it so much that I'm not sure I want it to end!

Well, that's a lie. I've got a cardigan, two shrugs and a sweater all planned. Anyone got a time machine?

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