Saturday, April 5, 2014

An Evolution of Stripes

Red is a stunningly difficult color
to photograph accurately
Spring has finally arrived in Appalachia, even though the weather has decided it still would rather be ornery than cooperative and pleasant. Even with the wildly ranging high and low temps and storms marching up the valleys and along the river, trees are in bud, grass is greening and even the early spring bulbs have started blooming.

Is there anything happier than a bright yellow daffodil?

With Spring comes the promise of fresh veggies, fresh air and fresh ideas. Even Spring gray skies are brighter than Winter's.

I'm decidedly very glad to see the seasons changing.

Last week, I was going back through my pins on Pinterest (yes, I've given in to the website of evil collections) and browsing the blogs I follow on Tumblr -- you can follow my Tumblr at -- and decided that I want to work up a design that is easy to wear and has just a little drama.

I started swatching a sweater with oversized shrug-like sleeves and, the best thing (if it works), knit in two pieces only. Easy! The first yarn I grabbed, and mainly because I am absolutely sure I'll have plenty of yarn even though I have no idea how much yarn the finished product will use, was Cascade Eco+ Wool in color 8443 Baked Apple. It's a good deeper red color, nothing like the way-too-pink color that my camera insists is correct.

With the simple shape, I toyed with stripes. I love stripes for how they can add interest to a fabric but they're very accessible. I do like fair isle and stranded colorwork, I think they are incredibly interesting and can be beautiful, but they are also fairly - in my opinion - "specific" in the look. I think they can be fussy or old-fashioned. I want something very classic.

One thing I'm always concerned about on garments is the direction and size of stripes. Years and years of fashion magazines and talk-show-makeovers have taught us that horizontal stripes are bad and vertical stripes are good. Unless you're beanpole skinny, then the opposite is great. And if you're adventurous, do whatever you want.

Other fashion-y tips I've picked up: black is slimming. Or not. Monochromatic is the way to go. Or go with a bright splash of color. Don't wear patterns. Or do. It's all very confusing.

So I started playing with my Cascade Eco+ Wool and monochromatic stripes, or better yet, textured stripes. An immediate benefit sprung out at me - I don't need to try to remember what color goes next or follow a chart like a slave (and you know I love charts). Every row is either knit or purl.

For the first several rows, I tried a pattern of double garter stitch from Barbara Walker's Second Treasury stitch dictionary. I like the fabric very much and recommend you try it out. But for an entire garment? I'm not so sure. It involves double wrapping each stitch and that can just take forever. 

Next I started experimenting with different combinations of stockinette and reverse stockinette before finally settling on a pattern I like a lot. There is plenty of stockinette that even a variegated or kettle-dyed yarn would look really nice, but broken up with easy rows of reverse stockinette. 

Good news is, I've got the front of a sample sized large finished and have started on the back. I'm aiming for a finished garment by the end of next week. 

I better get a move on!