13 October 2010

Twitter Sweater: Yarn Choice

Geisha on Twitpic
Geisha in Downpour from Blue Moon Fiber Arts
I had a long debate with myself about yarn choice for this sweater, obsessing over Louet's Kidlin Pixie/Laceweight before realizing I had some beautiful Geisha in my stash.

Kidlin is a "traditional" mohair yarn with a twist - in addition to the usual nylon binder thread, which holds the mohair fibers in a twist, there is a thread of linen. This linen takes the dye differently than the mohair fiber, giving the yarn a dimensionality that traditional mohair yarns don't have. Mohair takes dye beautifully, soaking it all up and glowing with it (see Kidsilk Haze, which uses silk instead of nylon for even more sheen - that link does not do the yarn justice). Linen doesn't seem to absorb dye evenly, so it ends up mottled and lighter than the mohair. All this to say it has a depth and ... rusticity that can really add to a project.

With the Kidlin I had been having a hard time deciding what color to work with. Something close to the inspiration dress (All Spice or Amber), a shade that just spoke to me (Flag Blue, Regimental Red), or whatever was available at the OYS (Doeskin, Smoky Grape), since no LYS near me stocked the yarn? In the midst of my obsessing, I reorganized my stash (many thanks to Nick for all his hard work moving the Expedit in question) and reacquainted myself with some hidden gems, including two big skeins of Geisha (64% Kidmo (kid mohair), 20% Mulberry silk, 16% nylon; 995 yards, each) in the subtle yet intriguing Downpour colorway. This one varies from a dusty brown to silver with some taupe and peachy tones in the mix, all very subdued yet shiny from the silk and mohair, really beautiful and subtle.

Could this work? The inspiration is so over-the-top, design-wise, yet the color Mme. Grès chose was quiet, letting the beautifully impractical sleeves shine in all their silk paper taffeta glory. Now, I love a variegated yarn, perhaps more than the next knitter and, after a few years of knitting, I know the drawbacks of those colorful skeins - flashing, pooling, stripy-ness. But in my swatch these subdued shades seemed to flicker, shimmer, not mix but mingle. So, we're going to give it a go.

The swatch you might be able to see at the bottom of the photo (from my phone, hence the lower quality) is worked in stockinette with garter stitch borders on US6 needles. This yarn is classified as a fingering weight, with a suggested gauge of 28 stitches over four inches; however, most knitters use it for lace, and I'm getting 18 stitches over four inches here, which I think will work for the body of the sweater. I don't want a tight gauge, since I want room for the mohair's halo to get in on the action, plus mohair is just so warm that a tight gauge would make for a little hot box. Since my skin is so sensitive, I plan to wear this with a camisole underneath anyway, so a loose gauge isn't a problem from a modesty perspective. I am wearing the swatch under my shirt at the moment without any discomfort, just to see what I might be in for.

Tomorrow: Ideas on sleeve construction.
Last night: Really enjoyed the color class with Amy Hendrix, and a skein of Merino Light in the Van Dyke Brown colorway may have come home with me. The fingering-weight superwash single-ply yarn is really interesting, and I have a sweater that just needs some finishing touches in another colorway of this yarn. So, yeah, I'm sure I needed more.

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