Saturday, April 22, 2006


Yesterday I bought three balls of novelty yarn. Nina said "those are three of the most un-Tamara yarns." It's true. I stay away from things with eyelash or fuzzy or any kind of nub. But this is for a good friend who is turning two. You have to break down and buy crazy things for two year olds.

Here is what I bought:
Berroco Softy in Black
Berroco Quest in Chambord
Habu Poly-Moire in Wakakusa Green

I plan on holding the three together to make an approximation of the "Swamp Thing Monster Hats" from New Knits on the Block. I bought some buttons that look like the hypnosis spiral to use for eyes.

Now let me clarify two things. One, when I do use fuzzy or eyelash-y yarn, I like to use Habu. There is something appealing about their yarn, even the nubby kind. I don't want to offend Kidsilk Haze devotees out there, but I think Habu's silk and mohair blend is much, much softer. It has a bigger silk to mohair ratio.

Two, I understand why people are drawn to using novelty yarns. I think this article in Spun explains the interest (and substitutions) well. I'd like to add my two cents, if I may.

When I teach, I always stress that it is important to use yarn that feels good while you knit it. In my opinion, those yarns are most often luxury yarns. They usually produce clear stitch definition and you have control of the yarn while you knit it. Novelty yarns are seductive, but disappointing in the end. The stitches are hard to see and they are either too slippery or too splitty to be knit with ease. I made many a novelty-yarn scarf during the first three years of knitting. One fell apart and another ended up in the bottom of a scarf pile . One person gave the scarf back to me because it was too much for him (it was just a variegated boucle).

As a gift knitter, I also think about the recipient of my knitted item. Will they use it? Is it their style? Eyelash scarves make my nose itch. Of course I've given gifts that I don't ever expect will be used. I gave Jen a tank top out of Rowan Cotton Tape (which I love) that is probably too bulky for her. I also gave her a sweater out of Rowan Polar that is 100% a color she loves and a style that looks great, but sheds like there's no tomorrow. I don't expect her to wear either of those things. I do know that Joseph loves his cable sweater. Jen loves it, too. I know it because it is made of a yarn that feels good and it has a million cables all over it.

So here's my advice. Get a smooth yarn--something with a high merino content--and make a cabled scarf. Or a scarf with some yarnovers. It will go much more smoothly and be worn more often. Cables are a lot easier than one might think, too. If you're not ready for cables, get a pretty variegated and textured yarn like Malabrigo.

I am glad to see people knitting. I worry that if they only use novelty yarns, that the novelty is going to wear off and they will never feel the pleasure of making something out of cashmere, alpaca, silk, merino, or even a really nice cotton blend.

Let the stone-throwing commence. I am getting off my high-horse now.

1 comment:

jennifer said...

Stone-throwing??? Wow, knitters are vicious!!!