Fall 2011 and all of 2012 fashion highlight all-over texture in every garment. Gorgeous stuff if you're a knitter, to be sure. But how? Boucle yarns? Complex pattern stitches? I can be kind of predictable in my yarn preferences. I wouldn't say that I'm in a rut; I'm more diverse than that! But I don't usually go for a textured yarn, or a particularly chunky yarn. Usually.
Then, over the weekend, I started playing with Katydid, a fully organic-cotton tape yarn (conventionally dyed) from Classic Elite's Verde Collection. I had some mixed feelings at first: as beautiful as the colorways are, and as soft yet strong the yarn is, I was out of practice with tape yarns. Would I find this tape yarn, technically a bulky (though extremely light) awkward? The long and short of it is, NO! I was pleasantly surprised to see that Katydid is as easy to knit with as any simple worsted. Really! Much of the credit goes to its easy drape and smooth hand. If you haven't worked with tape yarns before, this is an ideal first choice.
Tape yarns can create rich and beautiful textures without the need for lots of fancy stitching. Soft yarns often pill and shed, but tape yarns don't, due to the way they're woven. Katydid has the best of both worlds. In the swatch below, I worked stockinette, knit-purl alternating, reverse stockinette, yarn overs, and then bobbles. None of these are difficult stitches, though I understand they may seem complex if you knit them in such close succession. The question was this: the texture is great on stockinette, but does it enhance other basic stitch work? My answer is definitely YES!
Tape yarn tips:
1. Use the recommended needle size, or larger. Smaller needles will remove the textured affect.
2. Use a dowel to hold your yarn. Like your paper towels, tape yarns are much easier to use if you work the skein from the outside with the ball on a dowel. Take a spare knitting needle and stick it into a block of styrofoam. This will keep the ball from rolling around, which can lead to excessive twisting of the yarn.
3. If you twist the yarn as you work (though the dowel thing makes this unlikely), untwist frequently. Twisted tape yarns look like standard yarns if they are very twisted during the knitting process.
4. Tape yarns are not ideal for garments with negative ease, as they tend to be much less elastic than standard yarns. If you are making a garment designed to have negative ease, consider sizing up to ensure a good fit.
5. If it isn't listed in the pattern, consider doing a cable bind off. It's a little stretchier, and will make your seams and edges behave like the rest of your garment.
I encourage you to go get some. Play with it. It's delightful. If you're unable to get your hands on Katydid locally, ask your LYS to order some. Don't want to wait? It's available online at WEBS, Yarn Barn, and many other shops. Enjoy!