Friday, January 19, 2007

Swatching Silk

Last night I was drooling over the new listings of silk yarns over at ColourMart. To make matters worse Richard posted his intentions to take the prices up again shortly to adjust for the increasing costs of shipping and the decreasing value of the USD. So I'm debating if I should buy some more silk now and I realize I haven't even knitted anything from the silk I do have. OK, so it's time to do some swatching.

Following the example of our fearless Gansey w/s leader I decide to make something useful out of the experience. Something small, a little lacy, something that would tell me more about how I could use this lucious fiber. Well, I been doing a fair amount of scripture study lately and wishing I had a few more bookmarks to help keep my place while I'm chasing cross-references. Bookmarks! That's it! Small, useful, I can use any stitch I want. Perfect! So I pulled out a book of stitch patterns (darn, I had to give the BWT back to the library last week) and started thumbing through. I sort of knew I wanted to do a simple horseshoe pattern, and I didn't find anything else better (Gotta buy my own set of BWT books).

I had Richard wind 3 strands of the 2/28 laceweight silk together on this cone of Bonbon pink. I used 2.75mm needles and cast on 17 sts. I knit 4 rows in moss st. before starting the pattern. The borders are 3 sts, also knit in moss st (k1, p1, k1 on all sides) which I continued all the way to the tip of the bookmark. I knit 2 rows of St. st. before proceeding with the horseshoe lace. After seven repeats of the lace, I continued working in St. st making a Cdd every right side row until there was only 1 st left on the needle. A few t-pins and some steam and I had a nice little bookmark. Final measurements are 7.5 x 2" excluding the tail (hence the row gauge is 8.5 st/in).

Now for the commentary--- The silk was incredibly smooth and soft to the touch, but once knitted it had good body and a nice drape. The 2.75mm (US2)needles yielded a firm enough texture for a very nice summer garment. One could easily go up to as much as a 3.5mm (US4) for a lace shawl or stole, or even a 4mm needle (US6) if you wanted a very lacy effect. The 3 strands of silk seemed to be similar to a #10 crochet cotton (maybe just a tad bigger) or a laceweight wool (like KnitPicks Shadow). Of course there is no stretch or spring to the silk so that has to come from the knitting, and there's no halo either, hence my judgement to use a smaller needle size than I would use for a comparable wool or mohair fiber.

And lastly,the confession--- I admit to a bit of envy for those of my Colourmart friends who own fine gauge knitting machines. Oh how I wish I could whip out a few short sleeve tops to live in out of this delicious silk! It would knit relatively fast on a machine. Using US2 or 3 needles, well, not so fast :-(((

PS. I didn't wash my bookmark so I can't speak to that aspect of the yarn. Other than that, it definitely a 2 thumbs up from here in on old Rocky Top :-)

PPS. Click on ColourMart on the sidebar to find Richard's website (where the best deals are).
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