Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Better Than Chocolate, Mr. Mittens

Better than chocolate, really.  Oh, man!  Epiphany by Cascade is incredible.  60% Royal Alpaca, 20% Cashmere / 20% Silk, this yarn is a worsted weight that comes in 12 beautiful colors.  Better than that, it is the softest, easiest to work with alpaca blend I've ever touched.  It's very warm, and due to the silk and cashmere contents it's strong and it doesn't grow! The price is good, too.  At Karma Knitting in Williamsville, it's $28 for 273 yards. Why better than chocolate? Delicious without calories!

The Mr. Mittens are going along nicely.  (See Manly Mitts in Free Patterns, above)  Making the substitution of needles has really done it this time.  The pattern is easy to knit and easy to follow.  I'm teaching a version of this pattern in a mitten class this Sunday as a "First Fair Isle" project, and wish I had started on something like this!  The carries are short (translation - easy) and the pattern is only 4 stitches wide and 2 rows long.  If Fair Isle makes you nervous, I would suggest these as a project to get over your fear. 

Most people worry about the pattern puckering, which is the most common problem for folks new to the technique.  I suggest you pay attention to your carries (the yarn of the color not used on a particular stitch is "carried" behind.)  Bring them along at the same tension you always would, even if you're just taking the yarn from one stitch to the next.  No tighter, no looser.  Your work will be flat and smooth.

Folks also complain about the two colors getting twisted up between the work and the skeins, but there is a simple solution.  Once you introduce your contrast color, choose one yarn to be "the bottom" and one to be "the top" yarn. (Usually the contrast color is used as the "top" yarn, as it will have slightly smaller stitches and therefore be slightly less prominent.)  As you drop the "bottom" yarn to knit with the "top" one, make sure you always bring the "top" yarn over your working yarn. Bring the "bottom" yarn up under the working yarn when it's time to use it again.  If you do this, your colorwork will be even smoother, and your yarn will twist rarely.

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