Last week I wrote a bit about the things I really like about working mostly from my yarn stash, the things that have made my knitting pursuits easier and how working form my stash has really confirmed my natural tendencies towards fuzzy, more “rustic” natural yarns.
So now that I’ve got my yarn preferences figured out and more than enough of that kind of yarn at hand, you might think that everything would fall into place in terms of lining up my projects and loving everything I make. I’m happy to report that for the most part, it does, except when I come across a pattern I really like that requires a round, “smooth” yarn. This very thing happened most recently when I saw that Liesl put a call out for test knitters for the cutest little hat.
When I first saw Liesl’s Clara May Hat, I instantly fell for the textured stitch patterns she had chosen that give the hat a laid back, folksy feel, in other words, the kind of design qualities I’m drawn to. Naturally, I rushed to sign myself up right away.
Having learned the hard way years ago of the importance of using a round, smooth and crisp yarn for textured patterns, I knew I would have to look beyond my stash for the right yarn to knit the Clara May Hat. Happy for an excuse to visit a yarn shop, I selected a yarn I thought would yield good stitch definition. You can imagine my frustration when my swatch quickly revealed how wrong my choice in yarn was. My love for soft, natural and fuzzy yarn strikes again and made a fuzzy, sloppy mess of the textured stitches. Ugh.
the “bad” yarn I’m referring to is the brown sample on top – this was the only photo I took before ripping it apart, the dark grey sample underneath shows Cascade 220 – not bad but not very exciting either
Wanting to produce a good finished test for Liesl while also respecting my financial limitations, I dug deep into the corners of my stash. I came up with one skein of Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend, already wound (had I used any of it? I couldn’t remember) and knew it would be good match for Clara May. And it was good, really good actually, until I got several inches in and that sinking feeling of maybe not having enough yarn to finish kicked in. Ugh (again).
Manos Silk Blend
Not wanting to play yarn chicken on a deadline, I found another yarn that swatched up “good enough” and, knowing I had lots of that, I started again and finally finished it, satisfied I had made the hat but still slightly disappointed because I knew it could have been better.
Wabi-Sabi Organic Shetland, “good enough”
And yet, not end this tale on a sour note, the experience has given me a warm new hat made with a yarn I really do love (its so Shetland-y soft!), a new appreciation for test knitters and blog writing material to boot. All in all, not too shabby at the end of the day.
Thankfully, some patterns with textured stitches, like Bonnie’s (Blue Peninsula) On the Other Hand fingerless mittens, are more flexible. Bonnie’s sample for this pattern uses a lovely hand-dyed fingering weight that, being round and smooth, shows off the slightly textured lace stitches beautifully. While the yarn I used for the pair I knit didn’t have quite the same effect, its fuzzy, rustic characteristics lent a gentle halo that, in my mind at least, made up for the lack of crisp stitch definition.
I couldn’t be happier with these new mitts – now, if only it would warm up enough for me to wear them outside!
All of this to say (in a very long winded way), even the challenges of working almost exclusively from my yarn stash so far this year have provided me with the great benefit of better yarn wisdom, of learning how to think more critically about matching patterns with yarn and knowing that, for now, my love for highly textured knitting projects will just have to wait.
What about you, do the patterns you like and the yarn you love ever butt heads? I’m curious, how do you resolve that conflict?
Wishing you a lovely day and to those of you who observe and celebrate, a blessed Holy Week and very happy Easter!