Monday, May 21, 2007

Swatching for the Princess Shawl

Harry surprised me this morning with not one, not two, but five finely knit swatches for Heirloom Knitting's Princess shawl. He managed almost all of them on Clover #0 bamboos--the loathsome joins weren't an issue, as the swatches were only 19 stitches wide.

These needles would be useless, however, for any project that required sliding the stitches over the join. Forget it. You'd spend more time tugging stitches over that sharp little barrier than you would actually knitting anything. Whoever designed these needles clearly never knit anything with them, never did any market research, and certainly never ran a finger over the finished product.

Swatch #1

Heirloom Knitting's Gossamer Merino

Pros: Lovely to knit, smooth, soft, and wonderful to touch. Blocks beautifully.
Cons: Comes in white, white, and white.

Swatch #2
Avril's (Habu) Gossamer Merino
670 meters/oz, (48/2)

Pros: Comes in 23 pretty colors (mostly earthy browns and beiges) and the entire order will be wound on a cone, so you don't have to deal with joins.
Cons: Slightly sticky and splitty. Not as pleasant to work with as Heirloom Knitting's Gossamer Merino.

Swatch #3
Heirloom Knitting's CashSilk
70% Cashmere / 30% Silk
725m/25gm (2/58)

Pros: Luxurious to touch, slightly glossy, available in five colors

Cons: Has a remarkable resemblance to sewing thread with about as much elasticity. Requires nerves of steel, 20/0 vision, and a body untouched by any stimulant that could cause even a minute tremor. Otherwise a pleasant knit :)

Actually, it took three tries to produce this swatch. I cannot imagine trying to knit a shawl with it. Well, I can imagine it, but I think jogging from Tokyo to San Francisco would be easier.

Swatch #4

Moonrise Harmony
70% Alpaca and 20% Silk and 10% Cashmere
625 yards/oz, 2/32

Pros: A pleasure to knit--slightly springy, and luxuriously soft
Cons: Available in natural off-white only, shrinks vertically after blocking square.

Swatch #5:

Genuine Spider Silk

16 ounces will circle the Earth. You can figure out the Tex numbers yourselves.

Harry swatched this with #25X 0 needles in lime green, so we could find the sample to photograph. This sample is enlarged about five times actual size.

Pros: Produces a fabric so fine that the final shawl will fit through the eye of a #12 quilting needle. Comes in 175 colors and is inexpensive if you have a whole lot of production spiders in residence.
Cons: Quite sticky--we caught five gnats while blocking the swatch.

Side-by-Side Comparison

Well, more top-to-bottom, but you can see the relative sizes of the swatches and the yarns from these two photos. Click on the thumbnails for a less-blurry view.

Other Contenders
I would love to swatch Yarn Place's Heaven and Angel--I think these may be fine enough to enter the Princess Swatch contest. Unfortunately, I don't have any here, so the swatches will have to wait until I return home.

Ditto ColourMart cobweb yarns--I don't have any with me, but they always have cobweb cashmere and cashmere/silk yarns in stock.

Lastly, there are the skeined cobweb yarns offered by Skaska and Dimity. On the plus side, skeins can be easily dyed. On the other hand, winding them into usable balls would surely make Job yearn wistfully for whale tummies (mixed reference here, yeah yeah, Jonah was the one in the whale). I have some of both and they are resting comfortably 8000 miles away.


Iris G said...

Thank you Fleegle! I think I'll have to get some of these.

Anonymous said...

I love your sense of humor. Poor gnats.

missalicefaye said...

I looove the Heirloom Knitting CashSilk--actually, I find it similar to the Colourmart cashmere that I'm using for WRS (except nicer!). You do get used to it, eventually. :) Unfortunately, it comes in kind of a limited pastely palette.

Anonymous said...

Coals to Newcastle:

When you get back, try some of these:

Scroll down to "silk blends" - the angora silk has a slight sheen, is downy soft and can be custom dyed.


Dave said...

The bugs will wash out. :-)

Anonymous said...

Better you than I. I had to zoom in just to look at the pictures.

lori said...

Ya' know, msot people just have those icky baby-poo yellow fly catching strips. Leave it to Fleegle to have finely-knitted lace in a lurvely lime green instead. martha stewart should bow to the mistress of refinement.(also, she should shut up & go away, IMO) I actually like the 1st (the Heirloom?) swatch the best. Maybe stitch integrity is the phrase I'm looking for? The pattern shows better and the whole thing is just tidier than the others. Then again, maybe Harry's little arms were getting tired toward the last. Is he getting a chance to work on his Spider King? 'Cause we all know that he's the knitter and Fleegle just types up posts taking all the credit when Harry is snoozing in the light fixture.

Batty said...

I love that first swatch! If you get sick of the white, just dye the sucker!

fleegle said...

Everyone, including me, likes the first swatch. Dying may be an option, if I can persuade someone to skein it off and dye it for me. Gaah. Dying afterwards isn't an option, because of the danger of felting.

fleegle said...

Dear Lori--
Harry wasn't getting tired, but the yarns were getting finer. Thus, the swatches got progressively flimsier and sloppy looking. I prefer the integrity of the first swatch too.

We didn't mean to catch gnats with the swatch. They just wandered in, peered a bit too closely, and ZAP. There we were trying to extricate gnat feet off the sample.

Harry is knitting about a row a day on the Spider King, but he doesn't have as much time as he did when I was in the US. I make him clean his light fixture, repair his web, and so on.

fleegle said...

Dear Anon--

We have ordered some Treenway. Thank you for the tip!

RoadSide said...

I vote for the first one, too...theres gotta be an easier way to get some some color on it-- Thank you so much for letting us live vicariously through your yarn crawl pics!!