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:
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.
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:
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.
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.