Thursday, October 27, 2011

It's been a while!

Okay, so I've been bad about posting anything new and exciting (well, at least exciting to me)  :-)  :-) but it's been hectic around here!  :-)  I've been working my new job for almost a month and I've been finding that personal computer time is the last thing on my list of stuff to do when I get home.  I'd rather spend those few precious hours with my baby boy than on the computer.  Sorry, but y'all have to take a back seat to my kiddo.  :-)

Well, enough of that.  Lets talk about something we all know and love - YARN!  :-)  :-)  I've been playing with all kinds of yarn lately.  Yes, quite literally as well.  I've been hoarding so much yarn that I've been putting aside as "free form" yarn that I can't quite find anymore storage room for it anymore.  So, I've decided to use some of it up.  I've been making these really cute scrap yarn scarves for Christmas and not only am I using up some of that 'free form' yarn, I think these scarves are looking quite cute!  :-)

This has also been an awesome exercise in color as well.  I've been finding out really quick as to which colors work well together and which do not.  Most of my color choices are coming out fine, but I find myself having a little bit of trouble with the lighter and pastel colors.  Some of these do not blend well together - especially the lavender or purple color families.  Gray is another color that I've been having trouble with as well.  I don't have enough to make a scarf by itself, but I'm finding it hard to blend with other colors other than black.  And I don't have enough black to mix with it either.  So, I find myself putting those colors aside and hope that they will either start to multiply so I can make a scarf, or hopefully find a color that I can successfully mix with it.

So, color is one thing that I've been learning with this exercise, but another is about yarn weights and density.  Yes, this is going to become a short science blog because I've never really thought about this too much or for very long until I started making these scarves.

I find that I can take three or four different yarns from different manufacturers that all claim to be the same weight - lets say that in this case it is worsted weight.  I have found that not all worsted weight yarn makes the same type of fabric.  It doesn't matter if it was knitted or crocheted because a wool will not necessarily have the exact same gauge as an acrylic even if they both claim to be worsted weight.  One yarn will be a little more fluffy than the other and the non-fluffy of the  two will have a more dense fabric even when knit or crocheted with the same size hook or needle.  Even if the difference is slight, it's still enough to mess up gauge if I'm trying to match for a pattern.

This reminds me of a lady that I met a couple weeks ago at the yarn shop that was substituting a different yarn for a Caron brand pattern.  She was using worsted weight as the pattern called, but even if her stitch number was right on gauge, her row gauge was off a bit.  Because this was a sweater that was worked from shoulder to shoulder, her off gauge row count would have ended up messing up the shoulder and neck width if she followed the instructions exactly.

This is what we had to do:  since her stitch count was right on gauge, we didn't worry about having to alter the stitch pattern.  All we had to figure out was the number of rows that she had to increase because her row count was higher than what the gauge stated.  It wasn't too difficult.  Since she wasn't working a very complicated shaping, all she had to do was add an extra four rows of working even to make up for the difference.  I advised her to work to measurement instead of number of rows since I knew that she's be short.  So instead of working 20 rows, she had to work 24 rows to achieve the desired inches.

So, no matter what everyone says about it being easy to substitute yarns, it's not necessarily true.  This lady's pattern called for a worsted weight acrylic and she substituted an acrylic/wool blend instead and ended up off on her row count.  So what does that mean?  My guess is that the Caron brand yarn is a little more dense or less fluffy by a small amount to make the rows a little taller.  The substituted yarn was a little more fluffy and squished a little more making the row a little shorter even though the stitch count was exactly on gauge.  I don't think the row problem would have been fixed with a hook change either, because then at that point her stitch count would have been off.

So, not all yarns are created equal.  If you find a really cute pattern that you've fallen in love with and want to substitute the yarn, make sure you practice that gauge to make sure your fabric will be the same.