Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Seventeen: Slowly Swatching Silken Stitch Samples

My personality is a somewhat paradoxical blend of careful mathematical analysis and "oooh shiney!" I offer this by way of explanation for the decision to engage in comparative stitch swatching in fine handpainted silk. (And maybe also the intensely stubborn and competitive "this fiber will not defeat me" thing factored in just a little.) There is a method to the madness though, because the finished swatch will become a skinny tubular scarf and I believe the beauty of the handpaint will override the texture of any of the less successful stitch patterns, yielding an eminently wearable object.

The verdicts thus far:

Off-Centre Trellis Cable Pattern:

Disappointing. The fabric is a little more sag resistant than plain stockinette, but the cables wobble unevenly, likely due to the wide expanses of reverse stockinette between them. The white dotted line follows the knit stitch column that, in wool (above), runs up straight as an arrow between pattern panels. A tighter cable pattern might have potential.

Mistake Stitch Rib:A handsome stitch pattern - deep, springy, well-defined ribs. Not particularly tension resistant, doesn't pull in much.

Smocking:Love it. Springy and elastic, enough so that I could see it used successfully for negative ease. Great stitch definition, and the smocking loops rearrange the standard "zig-zag" of handpainted yarn most attractively. As an added bonus, it's easy to knit - much easier than cables in this slippery yarn.

Corded Ribbing:

Seen on the bottom, running into plain 2x2 ribbing for comparison. Slightly tidier and more sag resistent than the 2x2 but really not worth the PITA factor.

That's about 11 inches and 1/4 of the skein, so I believe I'll get a nice little scarf out of the project. Stay tuned for updates - I'm working on a tight overall cable pattern at present.

In the interests of honesty and all that, I feel compelled to correct the notion that I spend my weekends scaling cliff faces like a human fly. I love getting to the top of mountains, but have generally confined my adventures to summits that can be reached by a stiff hike and a bit of rock scrambling / bouldering at the top. I did spend a fair bit of time at the University climbing wall during medical school and enjoyed that hugely - since there is an indoor wall in Whistler, I expect we will head there regularly as a family. However, top-roped indoor climbing is a different matter altogether from scaling a cliff with only your own hammered spikes for fall insurance. My risk tolerance dropped dramatically when I became a mother, so I suspect I'll stick to the controlled environs of the wall for some time yet. (Yes, it has occured to me that my daughter will likely get hooked on mountain climbing herself and turn me into a nervous wreck, but what are you gonna do?)