Feb 25, 2009

Right Fiber, Wrong Yarn (and vice-versa)


Earlier this month, I had written that I thought I had found the right pattern in which to work up the scrumptious cashmere/silk lace yarn that I had received from Ruby, my swap partner. My suspicions were confirmed as I was working the pattern up. The light powdery appearance of the cashmere showcased the surprisingly simple stitch pattern. The fabric produced seemed to float, it was so lightweight. But, as I worked my way through to the 7th row, I realized that a lace-weight yarn is not the right weight for the pattern. What a quandary – the right fiber but the wrong yarn. Unfortunately, frogging my work is not an option as one of the few downsides to this yarn is that it is extremely difficult to pull apart, even one crocheted with a light tough. Instead, I chose to modify the pattern to gain the extra width and length to make it fit for an adult.

Pattern modification requires several skills: an understanding of how a specific yarn can be manipulated, an understanding of how various sections of the pattern work together, and an understanding of one’s own ability to cheat a pattern. But modification requires practice, something that I did not intend to inflict on such delicate yarn.

I chose Silver Tree Farm’s Vista Sock yarn, a kettle dyed sock weight washable wool that I must admit when I first saw the skein, although cushy soft and quite pretty, didn’t immediately call out to be made into something, it being a bit too pink for me.
Knitter’s Review wrote in her blog that some yarns have skein appeal (my lovely brass-colored Berroco Seduce Chana Dal is one such yarn). Others don't reveal their true potential until you start knitting (or in my case, crochet) with them. Once before, I made the mistake of “damning” a yarn by its cover – now my mother has a hat and lapghan in her pink and green and cream AKA colorway. Lightening has now struck twice. The Vista Sock, when worked in this pattern, WOWZA!

Since my lone “B-2.25 mm” hook was busy keeping company with the Filatura di Crosa Superior cashmere yarn, I stepped up to my “C-2.75 mm” hook. The pattern worked up fast and simply, and was easily memorized. Luckily the 462-yard skein had enough yarn from which to make a second collar, which I took as an opportunity to experiment with hook size to soften the collar and improve the drape. My “D-3.25” mm hook was someplace, as was my “E-3.5 mm” hook No choice but to use my “F-3.75 mm” hook. As I write this, I wonder why I just didn’t go out and buy more hooks but senior moments can strike even the undaunted.

The vintage 1920s pattern calls for a fine-spun angora sock weight yarn who’s natural halo was responsible for the collar’s powdery appearance. Overall, the Vista Sock proved quite serviceable, producing a soft touchable collar. The short bursts of color complemented the “2 dc, 1 ch, 2 dc” stitch clusters. Yet what makes this a great sock yarn is exactly the reason why it is not best for this vintage look -- the smooth skin of the yarn makes well defined stitches but lacks the ethereal quality inherent in angora and cashmere. Thus the right yarn but the wrong fiber. Despite these limitations, I loved how the collars turned out.

Above, the “C” version was a bit stiff until blocked, while the “F” was a bit loosey goosey. This is particularly evident in the center back of the collar, folded in half below. The version crocheted with the "C" hook literally overshadows the version loosely crocheted with the "F" hook.

What did I learn from this exercise?

  • Sock weight yarn is best, because no obvious modifications to the pattern are needed. But for best effect, the pattern screams out for a yarn with a soft halo, such as a soft angora or cashmere. Best hook for drape and stitch definition would be a "D" if you crochet loosely, or an "E" if you tend to be a tad "uptight"
Lace weight yarn: Modifications are simple: increase the width by 2 clusters (one each left and right of center). This translates into an additional 8 chains. For vertical height, add up to 2 rows to the pattern, working in the same pattern reduction of the previous rows. Remember to add the same for the tie-ends.
  • Blocking is important, particularly with natural fiber yarns. What may seem too narrow or too short can relax into the perfect fit.
  • Now to finish the cashmere collar. Any suggestions about blocking this yarn?.

    Here is the pattern, updated to reflect contemporary U.S. stitch and hook terminology. Please let me know if there are errors:

    ******************************************
    Updated Janetta Lady's Collar
    ******************************************

    Stitch repeat = multiple of 4 + 3
    Yarn: Fingering weight yarn with a light halo, like a soft cashmere or angora

    Hook: D-3,25 mm
    Guage: 8 clusters (see below) x 11 rows = 4 inches
    Special stitch: Cluster = (2 dc, 1 ch, 2 dc in next stitch), skip next stitch, dc in next stitch.

    Chain 93
    Row 1: sc in 2nd st from hook, sc in each stitch across [92 st]
    Row 2: Chain 4 and turn. Skip first stitch, *(2 dc, 1 ch, 2 dc in next stitch), skip next stitch, dc in next stitch.* Repeat from *, making 23 clusters.
    Row 3: Chain 4 and turn. *(2dc, 1 ch, 2 dc cluster in first ch space), skip stitch, 1 dc in dc in previous row, skip next stitch. Repeat pattern from * 10 times. In center cluster (the 12th one), work (2 dc, 1 ch, 1 dc, 1 ch, 2dc), dc in next dc. *Work (2 dc, 1 ch, 2 dc cluster) in ch space of next cluster, skip next stitch, 1 dc in dc in previous row, skip next stitch.* Repeat pattern from * 11 times, finishing with 1 dc into the ch-4 space in previous row.
    Row 4: Same as Row 3 to the center cluster in which is worked (2 dc, 2 ch, 1 dc, 2 ch, 2dc), dc in next dc. Repeat cluster pattern to end of row, finishing with 1 dc into the ch-4 space in previous row.
    Row 5: Same as Row 4 to the center cluster in which is worked (2 dc, 3 ch, 1 dc, 3 ch, 2dc), dc in next dc. Repeat cluster pattern to end of row, finishing with 1 dc into the ch-4 space in previous row. Turn -- do not chain 4.
    Row 6: Slip stitch over first cluster group (including the lone dc) and work in cluster pattern to the center cluster in which is worked (2 dc, 4 ch, 1 dc, 4 ch, 2dc), dc in next dc. Repeat cluster pattern to second to last cluster of row, finishing with a slip stitch in the dc in previous row. Turn. [21 clusters]
    Row 7: Slip stitch over first cluster group and work in pattern to the center cluster in which is worked (2 dc, 4 ch, 1 dc, 4 ch,1 dc, 4 ch, 2dc), dc in next dc. Repeat cluster pattern to second to last cluster of row, finishing with a slip stitch in the dc in previous row. Turn. [19 clusters]
    Row 8: Slip stitch over first cluster group and work in cluster pattern to the center. In first ch4 space of center, work 2 dc, 4 ch. In center ch4 space work 2 dc, 4 ch, 2 dc. In third ch4 space, work 4 ch, 2 dc, dc in next dc. Repeat cluster pattern to second to last cluster of row, finishing with a slip stitch in the dc in previous row. Turn. [17 clusters]
    Row 9: Slip stitch over first cluster group and work in cluster pattern to the center. In first ch4 space of center, work 2 dc, 4 ch. 1 dc in each of the next 2 dc. In center ch4 space, work 2 dc, 4 ch, 2 dc. 1 dc in each of the next 2 dc, 4 ch, 2dc), dc in next dc. Repeat cluster pattern to second to last cluster of row, finishing with a slip stitch in the dc in previous row. Turn. [15 clusters]
    Row 10: Slip stitch over first cluster group and work same as Row 9 [13 clusters]
    Row 11: Slip stitch over first cluster group and work same as Row 10 [11 clusters]
    Row 12: Slip stitch over first cluster group and work same as Row 11 [9 clusters]
    Row 13: Slip stitch over first cluster group and work same as Row 12 [7 clusters]
    Fasten off

    Work Tie Ends:
    At the narrow end of one side of the collar, work 3 ch, 2 dc in first space. * 1 ch, 3 dc in next space. Repeat from * to end, making 4 groups.
    Chain 4 and turn. *(2 dc, 1 ch, 2 dc in first chain space, 1 dc in center of next group)* Repeat from *, making 3 cluster pattern groups. Repeat for next 2 rows.
    For the next 11 rows, work the point exactly as for the center back of collar above, starting with Row 3 at cluster before center. Fasten off.
    Work other end of collar in same way.


    Finishing:
    Work picot edging all around collar and tie-ends: *sc in next space, 3 ch, 1 sc in sc just made, skip next stitch. Repeat from * all around. NOTE: placing 2 picots in ch4 spaces will help lace lie open and flat.


    ****************************

    4 comments:

    Unraveling Sophia said...

    Interesting and wow! Thanks for the pattern update too - I really want to make this and will go stash-diving now to find a yarn with a little angora in it, as you suggest!

    VicJoRob said...

    Great! You will only need about 230 to 240 yards of fingering/sock yarn. Good luck.

    Leslie said...

    It's lovely, now I wish that I crocheted better if at all.

    inamac said...

    I tried this pattern but ended up with a long ruffled strip as a result of doing the 'cluster' (2 dc, 1 ch, 2 dc) in every second stitch which seems to be what the pattern asks for. What am I doing wrong? I'm English but tried to remember to use US stitches.

    It's a nice ruffle, but not what I wanted!