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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Texture

Texture in your knitting is more than pretty in each of your projects.  Texture is a design element that is often used to create longer wear, and greater warmth.  It changes the thickness of the fabric, and depending on how the texture is formed, it can trap substantially more air.  As we all know, more trapped air means greater warmth.

Silk Knitting Yarn .Com Worsted Silk
So why are some patterns that aren't textured so warm?  It comes down to the yarn.  The more "halo" or fuzziness a yarn has, the more air it will trap.  The smoothest yarns will trap the least.  And of course, loosely twisted yarns will trap a bit more air than those that have a tighter twist.

The yarns above in the washcloths photo are organic, vegetable-dyed cottons.  They don't hold much air, so adding texture to the fabric is one quick way to add warmth to a garment made with them.  The texture in each cloth is different, with the ribbed texture being the warmest, and the diagonal cable ridges being the coolest.

When you're modifying a pattern, adding texture can make a significant difference in the warmth of the finished garment.  It will also change the amount of yarn the pattern requires.  A general rule of thumb is the more texture you add, the more yarn you'll need.  Adding a few bobbles will require less additional yarn than changing the entire pattern to intricate cables.  Added texture can require up to 40% more yarn!  Plan accordingly.

If you know a pattern will receive hard wear, you may choose to add texture to increase the strength of the fabric.  Palms of mittens can be made stronger by making them seed stitch or linen stitch instead of stockinette.  Heels and toes of socks can be made in eye of partridge or 1x1 rib to extend their wear.

Lastly, remember that most textured stitches knit up at a slightly different gauge, so in order to make sure your garment will be the right size in the end, swatch the textured stitch.  If there are more stitches per inch, you'll need to go up a size or two.  If there are fewer, go down a size.  Enjoy the warmth and beauty of added texture in your work!

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