Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Knitting with a Float-Stitch Pattern

The jacket copy for The Knitter's Guide to Hand-Dyed and Variegated Yarn stabbed me in the shoulder with its forefinger and demanded, "Do you covet the gorgeous colors of multicolored yarns but have been disappointed by patching, poolisng, and other unintended 'designs' that develop as they're knitted?"

Normally, I'd keep moving but this was help of the expert kind for a really common knitting problem. And such help! The author is the epicenter of variegated yarns herself, Lorna Miser of Lorna's Laces.  Is the book one big ad for Lorna's Laces yarn?  Not at all.  It features yarns from Art Yarns, Brown Sheep, Farmhouse Yarns, Fiesta Yarns, Hand Pinted Knitting Yarns, Jade Sapphire, Mountain Colors, Prism Yarn, Schaefer, and Twisted Sisters, as well.

Beautiful, clear photos.  Eleven well-written instructional chapters.  Twenty patterns.  My only complaint is that the book should be hardcover.  It will have a permanent place in my knitting library and it will get lots of use. Hard-cover lasts better.

Handmaiden Casbah Sock Yarn (80% superwash merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon,  355 yds) in the Peacock colorway
I've decided to knit the book.  It's the only way I will internalize what Lorna Miser has to teach.  Heaven knows I have plenty of variegated yarn in the stash.  First up is this fingering-weight.  It is a washable blend of merino and cashmere.

 Lorna Miser calls the colorway "calm", not because it is a mixture of cool blues and greens but because

"A calm colorway is one in which one color blends into the next with no single color making a bold statement.  A calm colorway may be monochromatic;  that is, it may be formed from many gentle shades of one color ... Colorways in which all the colors are similar in intensity can also be called calm... A calm colorway can also look like a watercolor painting, where the colors blend and soak into each other gently without any harsh edges, sometimes making it hard to tell where one color ends and the next one begins... When these colors are knit, even in stockinette, they may pool or pattern, but the colors are gentle and flowing and the pooling will be subtle and understated." - Lorna Miser
    Lorna Miser warns that a variegated yarn tends to make a swirling pattern when knit up as a sock.  That can be a pretty - if unintended- effect but for a subtler blend of color, she advises a simple horizontal float-stitch pattern.  You could use the Swag or Scallop Stitch which you can find, among other places, in Barbara Walker's Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns or Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book.  Lorna Miser has an interesting Checkered Float Stitch for a pair of what she calls Blue Ray Socks after the colorway she uses.  I'll call mine Peacock Ray Socks.  Here's how they are knitting up...

The float stitch is helping to blend the colors and make the sock more subtle.