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Friends Don’t Let Friends Swatch Miters

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Dear Ann,
It started quite innocently. Hunkered down in the rain a couple weeks ago, I ran out of stuff to knit (having just finished my magnum opus). Well, I ran out of stuff I wanted to knit. I recently had discovered two non-wool yarns with self-striping potential. I felt it would be a service to non-wool, self-striping yarn devotees worldwide if I took it upon myself to swatch up a couple of skeins and post the results. People: I’m here to serve. So I set to swatching. I did it for you.
Self-Striping Non-Wools–Why? A Digression
Noro’s self-striping yarns are exquisite torture for those of us who are allergic or otherwise averse to wool. I’m talking particularly about Kureyon and Silk Garden. Clever knitters are forever discovering new applications for their miraculous self-striping trick. (If you doubt me, check out this amazing THING.) Since I can knit wool (just can’t wear it), I can at least come to the party and knit up things like Taro’s Entrelac Square blanket or 8 million striped hats. BUT I HAVE TO GIVE THEM ALL AWAY. What about MY needs? How am I ever going to find happiness without some handknits colored by the inimitable Eisaku Noro?
My favorite use of self-striping yarns is not so much for stripes, but for miters and entrelac blocks. I love the way you can get random, gradual color changes, block by block, miter by miter, without ever cutting the yarn.
I really want an entrelac blanket of my very own. Frankly, my house is running EXTREMELY LOW on handknit blankets. So I keep an eye out for the self-stripers with little or no wool in them. This summer I discovered two prospects.
Hopeful Self-Striper Number One
First up is Noro Tidiori. Tidiori is 60 percent rayon and 35 nylon, with a 5 percent dash of cashmere. It’s worsted weight, so gauge-wise it’s a good sub for Kureyon or Silk Garden. (Maybe not a perfect match, but I’ve never been a Gauge Freak.)
In the ball, it looks quite strange and almost unappetizing, lots of grey and black stranding mixed up in the more colorful colors. But how would it swatch? Inquiring minds wanted to know.
Self-Striping Candidate Number Two
Over the summer, I also accumulated several skeins of Katia Jamaica. As with the Noro, my love is not so much for the stripes qua stripes, but for the other possible applications of this feature.
The Method of Swatching
It seemed to me that the best way to test these yarns would be to knit miters. I swear that this is not a symptom of any mental illness on my part. I can stop knitting miters anytime I want to. It is because I couldn’t remember eggzackly, or even vaguely, how to set up a row of entrelac blocks. Miters I know. There is no need to look anything up to knit a miter. Here are the scientific results:
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This is two colorways. (No, I didn’t save the labels.) The top one (knitted up before I smacked myself in the head and said, “Hey! I could be knitting a miter!”) is purply pink with browns and God knows what-all thrown in. The bottom one is pale greens and blues and Noro’s signature shots of That Doesn’t Go With Anything.
In other words, I love them.
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I liked Tidiori a lot more after it was knitted up than in the skein (the opposite of my usual reaction to multi-colored yarns). With so many colors in each colorway, there is always one or two that I find discordant, but when I am knitting a blanket, I can break the yarn to extract them from the mix, or I can grow in wisdom and learn to appreciate the master’s choices. I am thrilled, thrilled, thrilled that there is a non-wool yarn that can achieve a similar effect to Silk Garden and Kureyon. The effect is not identical, for many reasons, but the quality I prize most–random, unusual color changes– is there. It’s an added plus that the knitted fabric is lightweight and springy–a Tidiori sweater or coat would not be droopy.
Yay! Non-wool group hug! I’m okay, you’re okay, and the Circle of Knitters is unmarred by jealousy over self-striping yarns!
Let’s move on to the Jamaica shall we? I swatched only one skein, which made 3 miters and the start of a 4th using my usual 72-stitch stockinette recipe. Behold:
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Ain’t it grand? The cotton is silky soft, a bit lighter in feel than other DK Cottons like Tahki Cotton Classic and Rowan Denim, but gauge-wise it will work with those yarns.
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I love that the white has a blue cast to it. Like skim milk. (In a good way.)
I also like the mini-splotches and brushstrokes. This is a painterly yarn. The colors are intense.
In Which I Fall Into a Hole
Surely you know how this all ends up. After swatching the Katia Jamaica, I started thinking about what an awesome blanket I could make using a few miters of Jamaica and a bunch more miters of, say, Rowan Denim. I stopped all life-sustaining activities until I had knitted nearly enough miters for a baby blanket. Hadn’t intended to knit that particular baby a blanket, but I needed a pretext, and newborn Abe played right into my hands (infants are so gullible). I hate to take advantage of the young and inexperienced, but I really can’t stop knitting miters right now. 20 down, 4 to go for the Abe Blanket.
Love,
Kay

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33 Comments

33 Comments

  1. Almost finished the baby blanket – wow, you’re fast when you’re motivated!!
    I love how the different self striping yarns work when mitered. The Noro yarn looks beautiful. I wonder what a self striping sock yarn would look like?

  2. I got hooked on that Jamaica this summer. I couldn’t resist the pink and green. Like you, I knit several baby blankets and am waiting impatiently for someone to come forth with a blanket needing baby!!

  3. You’ve seen the Noro blanket in the new Knitty, right? You may want to sit down for it…

  4. Ooooo-eeee! As a member of the Order of Closeted Obsessive Knitters Who Find Wool Itchy, I thank you. I have felt deprived of the self-striping genre for so long–but no more!

  5. Tidori is a lot of fun to work with. I made the diamonds hat with a turned up brim for a shop sample from it. It has about 207483831 colors in it.

  6. I knew you weren’t a miter addict. An addict has to go to meetings. haha.

  7. I hear you on the miters. For the Bitchin Mittens contest I made a fish mitten using self-striping yarn that had a mitered tail and an entrelac body. It came out well enough to be a finisher.
    And now, I’m working on a mitered scarf for the Funky Scarf swap. I’m finding that the miters break up the regular changes in my yarn in a non-regular way. See, that’s the funky part. :-)
    Three cheers for the mighty miter!

  8. oh yeah, that Lizard Ridge is the FIRST thing I looked at during that delirious moment I found myself on the new Knitty issue. Good Gourd! That woman has a lot Noro! I want it I want it I want it!

  9. Beautiful, beautiful Katia Jamaica miters! I’m in love.

  10. Thank you thank you thank you for this post! I was just lamenting that I wouldn’t be able to make the Lizard Ridge blanket because of my wool allergy. Tidori here I come, I think!

  11. Ooh— I had a completely different experience with Tidori. Ended up making a shoulder scarf with three balls (all I had, bought on sale at Knit Happens.) That thing is quite heavy and it is quite floppy and–dare I say it????–droopy. My little foray with this object changed my mind about larger objects made with it. Also the color variations between the balls were wildly different in the came colorway and dyelot. (And believe me I am a go with the flow kind of Noro girl. I let those stripes fall where they may!)
    So my advice (which is worth probably exactly what you paid for it (tee hee) is think twice and caveat emptor.

  12. I can’t wait to see Abe’s blanket. I discovered the Jamaica this summer, too. It is snazzy stuff.

  13. I *heart* Noro. I love the self striping. Unfortunately it dries my hands out so I usually make small project with it, and it’s a bit scratchy, so garments are out of the question for the Silk Garden & Kueryon. But they sure do felt nicely!

  14. You need help. Really.
    (I mean that in a good way of course. except for the part where I now have a massive urge to go get me some Noro.)

  15. The master is probably thinking, “Grasshopper, you have arrived.”
    I say, lucky Abey baby!

  16. I wandered around my LYS for an *hour* this summer with a ball of the pink and green Jamaica. I didn’t buy it because I couldn’t imagine what I would do with it. Now I know, and I’m totally going back to my LYS to snag it.

  17. Can’t wait to see baby Abe’s blankie! I wear wool, but love cotton stuff and Jamaica looks just great.

  18. I don’t knit with Kureyon, not because I’m allergic, but just because it is so scratchy. I love the colors, but can’t figure out why they make such a scratchy product when there are so many non-scratchy wools out there. SO, my question would be: is the Tidiori soft, or did they somehow manage to make another harsh-feeling yarn? (BTW, for those who can cope with wool, I hear that Diakeito Diamusee is both beautifully self-striping and soft.) Thanks for the great info!

  19. i think you are obsessed.
    but i like the purple one – i would love to see what that looks like in a miter:)

  20. I have 12 skeins of discontinued variegated purple-ish Noro Sumile (a silk-cotton chenille) which has roughly the same gauge as Kureyon. Anyone have suggestions as to what I might make? I’ve swatched and it really wants to be stockinette or garter stitch – pattern stitches just don’t show up. My quandary – sweater? Afghan? Wrap? I just don’t know.

  21. OMG, this post is going to cost me…

  22. Doncha just hate it when a project just makes you knit it like that. Innocent swatches turn on you and force you to make them into a blanket… I really like that Noro, but I’ve always thought it looked a bit blah in the balls (unlike Kureyon, which looks best in the balls).

  23. Lucky babe, Abe!
    You’re so kind to us kntters, sacrifing yourself like that for the sake of the swatch.

  24. Thanks for sharing! I have a pattern for Katia Jamaica to make sweater for my son. Now you have answered my question, and of course, I HAVE TO make it for him.
    I haven’t tried mitered squares yet. I’m afraid I’ll get hooked on those, too.

  25. Love the mitres. Beautiful random colours.

  26. I know how much it hurt you to have to knit those mitres, you self-sacrificing mitre goddess, you. Personally I can pass on the Noro, but that bottom one looks, well, really Rather Nice. (Like Katherine, I always think Noro is scratchy, and generally I’m not in favour of multi-coloured things, as you well know).
    And Fancy! You had enough of the stuff to start (finish) a blanket. Who’d have guessed?? But what about the border? I dare you to do it all in one go like my denim one….. x x

  27. I too felt the need for an entrelac blanket – I’m making mine out of my leftover sock yarn. See my blog – http://www.lizardknits.com for a picture. Sadly, I’ve run out of sock yarn leftovers, so now I have to knit more socks before my blanky can grow any more. boo hoo!

  28. miters, miters everywhere..
    you do need help, but don’t stop mitering now, can’t wait to see the baby blanket!

  29. Well, this opens up a whole new epidemic of yarn buying and mitre making. I have a new grandson in the works… due in February… I think he needs one of these beauties. I like that painterly yarn also. What would we do without you?

  30. you can stop any time you want………..right.
    (you are among your people)

  31. This yarn is gohgeous. I love it – especially the top two – can’t remember the name right now, nearly 5 p.m., brain already shutting down.
    Found objects: Who is the man in the cowboy hat and why does it look like that baby has a mohawk? Don’t get me wrong, the baby and mohawk are cute.

  32. So glad you carried out this research for us. Noro yarn gives me goosebumps, it’s so cool. His color sense is incredible – the long, gradual changes, and then an exclamation point of a color no one would have thought of but that totally works. And then later on, a whole long thingie of that same color. Poetry in yarn, and IMHO head & shoulders above other multi-colored yarn. And why is it that most of it looks better knitted up than in the skein? A zen mystery for all to contemplate.
    Ann! I am bursting with Project Runway thoughts. Have you been keeping up?

  33. I just used some Katia Jamaica for a sweater for my little one. Love, love, love it and was anxious to use it again for another project. Now you suggest a mitered square blanket from Katia Jamaica? Yes please! I’ll take two!