Archives for posts with tag: silk garden

I knit the Latitude and Longitude samples for the pattern photos in the garishly bright colors Noro is famous for, because they’re lovely and eye-catching. However, the very first Latitude and Longitude hat I made was actually in much softer shades of Silk Garden–one shade, color 267, is all earthy browns and grays, and the other, 241, was the most beautiful blend of purples ranging from the blue to the red end of the spectrum, in saturations from pale lavender to deep Tyrian.

I misplaced the finished hat (made in March 2009) for ages and thought it was lost for good, but recently, as we were cleaning around the house, I unearthed it again in a box under the bed. I thought I’d show it to you:

This seemed like a valuable lesson in color theory. I loved the two colors individually, or when I held them up against each other in skein form, but the purples and browns are too close in value and the stripes just kind of blend together in the finished hat. Not that I don’t like it, but it isn’t really the best pair of colors to show off a striped pattern.

Far more subtle–to the other version’s tropical macaw,

this might be more of a backyard bird–a purple martin or sparrow.

I also recently finished another Latitude and Longitude knit in calmer colors than the samples. This one a scarf, knit in Cascade Eco Duo.

Pattern: Latitude and Longitude scarf

Size made: Finished dimensions 5.5″ x 78″

Yarn used: Cascade Eco Duo, a kitteny-soft worsted weight singles blend of 70% alpaca and 30% merino. This is the softest, fuzziest yarn I’ve felt in a long time, and it comes in a bunch of naturally colored, subtly striping colorways: I chose 1705 and 1703, one colorway white and cream stripes and one colorway shades of gray, from palest smoke to darker slate. They were 40% off at an Easter sale at a local yarn shop, and each skein has 197 yards, so I only needed the two skeins instead of 4 like the Noro. I loved this yarn–I’m sure it will pill like crazy later on, but it is so, so, soft, it seems like a fair tradeoff.

Needles used: US 8 (5.0 mm) for the first few inches of the scarf, and US 9 (5.5 mm) for the rest. I cast on with the smaller needles since they were handy, but switched to the larger needles once I got a chance.

Date started: April 26, 2010

Date completed: May 30, 2010

Mods/Notes: Since my yardage was a little shorter with the 2 skeins of Cascade than with the 4 skeins of Noro, I decided to cast on 35 stitches to produce a longer/skinnier scarf. It came out to a very good scarf length, and I’m very happy with it, though I suspect there may be a lot of scarf stealing come winter–Rahul liked it a lot too, put it on as soon as I finished it, and asked (hint hint) who I had made it for.

Like the purple and brown Noro hat, it is in soft natural shades instead of vibrant dyed ones, but I think the colors contrast well enough in the scarf that the reversible vertical/horizontal stripe patterning stands out clearly.

Just look at how soft and fluffy this yarn is… does the fluff factor show up in this close-up?

I wanted to take some better pictures of the hat and scarf modeled, but since it’s high Midwest summer and about 90 degrees and humid both in and outside at all times, I instead opted for the ever-stylish “winter watchcap and alpaca scarf over cotton sundress” look. I had a black wool coat on over the dress for about 2 seconds before giving up and flinging it off.

And last but not least, because it fits into the color scheme, here is a picture of my current WIP–the Shalom Cardigan in Elann Peru Soft, color 801 (a bulky-weight but light and fluffy singles yarn–about half acrylic, half natural fibers–I resisted when it was first posted, but caved in and bought a bag when they had it on sale for 10 bulky-weight, 98-yard skeins for $18; decided to do penance by casting on right away instead of letting it marinate like all the other perfectly good yarn in my house).

The contrast between this and the last chunky weight gray yarn I used (Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Chunky) is striking. The Rowan feels very sturdy and rustic, heavy, rope-like–texture-wise, the Elann yarn is like an airy loaf of Wonder Bread, while the Rowan is like a tooth-breakingly dense loaf of whole grain, like black rye or Vital Vittles whole wheat. No wonder, as the Rowan weighs 1 gram per meter while the Elann weighs only 0.55g for the same yardage, though to be fair, the Rowan recommends only 12 sts/4″ and the Elann yarn a much lighter gauge of 15 sts/4″, so “bulky” doesn’t quite mean the same thing here.

Anyway, it’s nice, and I hope the cardigan fits in the end… this is a free pattern, and the sizing is a bit haphazard in the original pattern anyway (it only includes one size), so I took a seat-of-the-pants approach to gauge and sizing on my version. The stitch gauge turned out to match but not the row gauge, so I’m recalibrating as I go (and already had to frog and reknit an inch or two). I’m planning to add buttonholes all the way down, and add long sleeves.


OK, folks, ready for some magic?





OK, it ain’t David Copperfield, but it’s still pretty cool, right?

My latest pattern release, Latitude and Longitude (Rav link for purchase: buy now), is a set of three accessories, meant to be knit up in two complementary colors of Noro Kureyon, Silk Garden, or another self-striping yarn: the PDF includes instructions for a scarf, cowl, and hat. All three are fully reversible and, as you saw, have vertical stripes on one side and horizontal stripes on the other. You only use one color per row, and there’s no real fancy business going on, stitch-wise–the basic pattern is just knits, purls, and slipped stitches. There are a few fancier things happening in the hat to keep the decreases as balanced and invisible as possible, but follow the written directions or chart and you’ll be fine.

I probably shouldn’t gush too much about the awesomeness of my own work, but seriously, I love these. (Sadly, one hat and the scarf have gone missing already. I seem to always lose my absolute favorite knitwear. At least I still know where two rainbowy cowls and a hat are.)

I first came across the stitch pattern a couple of years ago, in Jane Neighbors’s out of print Reversible Two-Color Knitting, which I found in the Cleveland Public Library system (one of Cleveland’s only redeeming points, in my humble opinion). It took a while, but one day I realized its full potential as I was contemplating another Noro striped scarf–previously my favorite renditions were the vertically striped two-color brioche rib or the horizontally striped mistake rib scarf. I realized that with this pattern, at last, there was no need to choose between the two.

So I worked up the scarf, then put the pattern into the round for the cowl, and last but not least, figured out some nice-looking decreases for the hat–I think it looks pretty good from both sides:

The opposite directional striping shows up when you fold up the brim of the hat:

Or when you fold down the edge of the cowl:

Or when your scarf twists or folds, as scarves are prone to do:

The hat and cowl each take two skeins of Noro–the scarf, a more budget-busting four skeins. The cowl, like most cowls, is pretty much just a big tube, but it is a nice portable piece of knitwear to tote around in your purse (or murse, or pocket, as the case may be) in case your neck gets cold.

One of the hardest things about knitting these two-color Noro pieces is picking out colors that will work together.

Contrasting dark and light, warm and cool, dull and bright colors seems to work well. But there are always those surprising lengths of weird colors like neon yellow or muddy olive that aren’t visible from the outside of the skein, then show up with a vengeance when you’re halfway through. Liz and Other Liz, friends from my Wednesday night knitting group, were kind enough to test knit for me; Liz (or Other Liz?) had to frog a bunch of her hat because two nearly identical shades of green showed up in both skeins at the same time. I try to avoid these situations by keeping both the centerpull and outside end of each skein accessible, and switching them out as needed. But sometimes just cutting out a length of a nasty color is unavoidable.

A perfect example of careful color selection: the hat I lost was knit in an ivory colorway of Silk Garden contrasted with purple shades, which seemed to go together really well when I held up the skeins next to each other, but the contrast all washed out when it was knit up. It was attractive and subtle, but didn’t photograph well–so it was a good opportunity to choose the two most garish colors of Kureyon in my stash and knit up hat #2.

The two-sided stripes help camouflage everyone’s other least favorite thing about Noro (well, aside from twigs, breaking, uneven spin, and all the other things I see people complaining about on the Ravelry Yarn forum every few weeks like clockwork)–knots, with completely different colors tied together at the join.

So there you go. Latitude and Longitude. Please consider them for your future Noro striped accessory needs! More info, including a chart of possible yarn substitutions and links to tubular cast-on and bind-off tutorials, can be found on my main pattern page.

I’ve finally published the pattern for Prickle, just a week under the wire for Malabrigo March. I thought I’d have enough time to do another scarf pattern, too, but it’s just not going to happen in the next week. No time!

You can see the extended pattern description and lots of pictures on the pattern page. The pattern is $4 and can be purchased through Ravelry downloads (preferred) or through Payloadz, if you don’t have a Ravelry account.

Here’s my test knitter Deb’s version, with the lace edging, knit in one skein of Malabrigo merino worsted in Fucsia (sic; I’m spelling it the way Malabrigo does on their site). That scenic waterfront vista, if you can believe it, is the scene outside her LYS in British Columbia, and sometimes they see orcas in the harbor. We need more orcas in Indiana, if you ask me.

The short version of the description is this: Prickle is a moebius cowl in a reversible Porcupine Lace stitch, designed to use less than 100 g/220 yards of worsted-weight yarn, and finished with a sideways knit-on edging. Two edging variations are provided: a plain garter stitch edging, or a frilly, scalloped lace edging (as shown above).

It’s been interesting to me to see the differences in the same pattern in different yarns. I knit the two pattern variations in three different yarns: Malabrigo Merino Worsted in Red Mahogany, Noro Silk Garden in color 269 (with a stripe of white Plymouth Baby Alpaca Brush), and Berroco Ultra Alpaca in Lavender Mix.

Each yarn has its pros and cons, and plays certain features of the pattern up or down by its color and nature:

I think Silk Garden is the attention-grabbing yarn of the bunch. I’d like to see how this pattern comes out in a brighter colorway. The stripes really play up the bands of stockinette and reverse stockinette lace and the gentle, undulating waves of the Porcupine Stitch pattern. I took it off and threw it on the floor near the hamper the other night, and the next day paused to admire the way the creamy, natural colors looked against the beige carpet. Even framed by dirty socks and piles of books, it’s striking, sculptural.

I really designed the pattern for Malabrigo, and the feel of this yarn is the most soft and luxurious of the three versions. My everyday scarf is partly knit from Northampton, a workhorse wool, which, while not scratchy, is not really a sensual pleasure to wear. When I wear the Malabrigo Prickle, I am constantly surprised and distracted by the sheer delicious softness of the yarn when I turn my head and my cheek or neck brushes against the cowl. This is the Calgon of yarns. Malabrigo, take me away!

The interesting thing about Malabrigo is that it has more body and more memory than the other yarns. (I guess that’s something you can reasonably expect from a merino wool as opposed to a silk and mohair or alpaca blend.) It was the only one of the three versions that didn’t feel right when pulled up over my hair like a hood or wimple–not enough drape, not enough stretch.

I think the semi-solid colorway of Red Mahogany gives it a really pretty, organic look when combined with the stitch patterns–like shelf fungus, if that doesn’t sound too gross. The shapes of the individual lace repeats are obscured by this colorway, but Malabrigo (like other hand-dyed or kettle-dyed yarns) looks really nice in garter and reverse stockinette stitch–the lace alternates between stockinette-based and reverse stockinette-based bands, and the edging is garter stitch.

The Ultra Alpaca is the plainest (the only one of the trifecta that nobody has favorited on Ravelry) but its worsted spin and plied construction give it wonderful stitch definition for lace, and the colors are great. I’m really impressed with it. I’m not going to double-post the overhead picture from yesterday, but it’s one of my favorites; taken in bright sunlight on a white backdrop, you can really see the intricate, dimensional curves of the stitches and the interesting shadows they cast. Aside from porcupine paws, the spiky stockinette parts remind me of flowers, or maybe agave plants.

So that’s that. I keep wanting to cast on more of these to see what happens in different yarns (I was thisclose to making one more in Patons SWS in Natural Earth) but I’m going to have to put this pattern down for a bit and work on something else.

Brief joke interlude: (from Mental Floss’s finalists for Best Pun in the World):Q: What do you get after playing the lute for 10 hours straight?

A: Minstrel cramps.

Kalani alerted me to the fact that Knit Picks has posted a bunch of new yarns. The ones I’m most excited about (but go look at the page for yourself–there are plenty of others):

  • New colors of Cotlin: Glacier, Kohlrabi, and Coffee are my favorites
  • Gloss lace yarn. The photos seem a little flash-heavy, but I think Cypress seems like a really pretty color.
  • Comfy, a cotton/acrylic blend. I’m really curious to see how light and stretchy this is. When they say it has “elasticity,” is it stretchy along the lines of Rowan Calmer, or more like Lion Brand Cotton-Ease? I love the muted colors.
  • New colors of Gloss Sock. These are beautiful–Cosmos in particular looks wonderfully moody and smoky
  • New colors of Shine Sport. I’ve been looking unsuccessfully for appropriate yarn for the Somewhat Cowl for approximately forever. Could Shine Sport in Fedora be the holy grail? I’m not going to bet on it, but there’s a possibility. I am so thrilled with all these new dark-chocolate browns and murky purples in KP yarns.

I love boring colors lately!

Despite my issues with Noro Silk Garden–the price, mainly, and then all the little squiggly white fibers in the yarn that remind me of quinoa–I fell completely in love with its natural colorways, 267 and 269, after seeing 269 on CosmicPluto’s blog. When I was at Article Pract and spotted both colorways in their bins of Silk Garden, it seemed like a great opportunity to support a local yarn store/do some souvenir shopping/cave in to my greed for these colors. So I picked up one skein of each and cast on for another stripy scarf almost immediately.

Noro Kureyon comes in natural colors as well (149 and 211, I think), but I don’t think they’re nearly as nice as the Silk Garden. Kureyon has a matte, felted finish to it, making the colors look almost like flat pigments on the surface of the yarn, whereas Silk Garden has a subtle, rich shine from the silk and mohair, with the color and texture broken up a bit by the little white quinoa-fibers, and consequently the color looks much deeper. I don’t mind the flatness of Kureyon’s texture when it comes to its specialty, rainbow/crayon colors, but I think the natural colors definitely look nicer in Silk Garden.

(If you’re wondering how Plymouth Boku compares, it is very softly spun, lacking the felty, hard quality of Kureyon, and it’s not shiny like Silk Garden–I think the silk content in Boku manifests in small, pale, tweedy flecks in the yarn, sort of like in Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool.)

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed every stitch of this project because of the fabulous yarn. Maybe one of these days, I’ll plonk down $100 and make myself a natural-colored, stripy Silk Garden pullover.

The Birch and Oak Scarf

(I’ve been playing with Picnik!)

Pattern: Child’s Rainbow Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts

Yarn used: 2 skeins Noro Silk Garden, one in color 267 (oak browns), one in color 269 (birch whites)

Needles used: US size 10/6.00 mm

Started: November 24, 2007

Finished: November 26, 2007

Size: 5″ x 53″, pre-blocking, 5″ x 60″, post-blocking

Mods: Mistake rib worked over 29 sts (I don’t remember how many the original pattern uses). I also used a slip-stitch selvage (slip last st of each row purlwise with yarn in front, knit the first stitch of each row through the back loop).

Notes: I had intended to make the scarf for either my dad or my stepdad, since it’s in such nice, neutral colors, but my stepmom, a fellow knitter (less obsessed than I) and lover of yarn, kept gushing “I think that’s the most beautiful yarn I’ve ever seen!” so I think I will give her the scarf instead. She won’t be that surprised by it, since I showed her the scarf in progress when the plan was still to give it to my dad or stepdad, but I think she’ll be pleased by the change in plans. I think my stepdad will get the brown and green striped Forest Rib scarf instead, and my dad will get a scarf in Natural Slate Patons SWS.