Saturday, May 5, 2012

Unwound part III

Your mother/ grandmother/ yarn store owner/ Elizabeth Zimmerman was right- always make sure you have purchased enough yarn in the same dye lot…
I am sure that most knitters reading my previous posts about running out of yarn  wondered why I didn’t follow that simple rule and buy enough yarn  to finish my blue Icarus  shawl  to begin with.
Honestly,  it was so long ago, I don’t remember.  I think I bought all the yarn that came in the “Beach Fog” colorway.  I thought I checked the pattern and planned accordingly, although, at the time, I was not that experienced at lace shawl knitting. I definitely had a large tangle of unusable wool left.  For whatever reason, I ran short.

When I looked last week at the Ravelry page about the Icarus shawl I laughed when I saw the following sentence...
 Please note that the yardage in both of Interweave's printed versions is underestimated for the average knitter.
Is that what happened? I don’t recall, but maybe it lets me off the hook!

© Vogue Knitting/Rose Callahan
   As a designer, I know how important a precise yardage measurement is.  I carefully track the yarn that I use as I knit a project, and write down how many balls/skeins I go through as I am working. 
But, yardage can be a grey area.  When I design a sweater I always knit at least one gauge swatch in stockinette, and one for each pattern that is in the garment.  Sometimes I knit the swatches using more than one needle size.  I make relatively substantial size swatches, and block them.  So, when I account for how much yarn I use, I am accounting for the project and the swatches, as well as any mistake knitting ; ) that occurs along the way.  Generally speaking, the amount of yarn I record should be generous enough for most knitters to easily finish a project.  

Even so, problems still arise.  More than once I have had to break into a new skein of yarn to finish a project that is only missing a few rows.  That is not usually a significant problem if the yarn is sold in small skeins. But, what happens when the yarn is a lace weight thread sold only in 700 yard hanks, or a pricey yarn like cashmere?  I know that when I designed the LILY PATTERNED MITTENS for the Vogue Knitting magazine Winter 2011/2012 issue, I literally used up every bit of the beautiful yarn* and actually unraveled my swatch to complete them.  VK made mention of that fact in the  printed directions.

Sometimes yarn manufacturers even repackage and change the amount of yarn put up in a skein. 

So now I try to buy extra, I check pattern pages for errata, and I cross my fingers…

 *Jade Sapphire Exotic Fibers Mongolian Cashmere 4-Ply  in #43 classic purple

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