Monday, January 07, 2008

A Long Yarn Yarn

Remember recently when I posted about buying Japanese knitting books? Well, I went back and bought a second book of men's patterns by the same publisher, and completely fell in love with a cardigan pattern in the new book. Yes, a cardigan. Problem? But we're talking a Japanese cardigan here, so it's all sort of slouchy, with raw curling edges and done in a lovely grey wool/silk mix yarn that has a sort of a tweedy slub to it. (I would show you a pic but I can't find one on the interweb.)

More Yohji Yamamoto than Uncle Morty.

The thing is, knitting is a bit like the old fashioned rail gauges for steam trains. Some countries are standard, and some aren't. Japan uses different sized needles to the rest of the world, and their yarns are often different thickness to the rest of the world too. It's not impossible to substitute, but you have to play around with needle sizes and yarn thickness to get what is called 'gauge' in knitting terms, the right amount of stitches across and rows vertically. If your gauge is off, then the garment will be the wrong size you see! So I'm itching to make this cardigan and I think I might have found two perfect substitute yarns!

First off this one. It's about the right thickness by the look of it at 100m per 50g ball (the Japanese yarn was listed at 96m for 50g). I can play around with needle size to get the right gauge. It's a silky/wool mix, only this time it's a soy silk which I'm keen to try anyway (I like the fact that soy silk is more eco friendly and kinder to silkworms than regular silk). The colour is good, and while it doesn't have the tweedy slub in it, it is slightly variegated and that could still give enough interest. It's a little bit dearer than I hoped for at $12.50 a ball, making the cost for the cardigan likely to be around $150. (If you thought knitting was a way to save on garment costs, think again!)

The thought of plunking that sort of money down on a yarn I haven't actually been able to see 'in the flesh' is a bit daunting...

So, the back up plan is to use the same type of yarn I used to make my first beanie, Jo Sharp's "Silkroad Aran Tweed". At 95m per 50g it is certainly about the right thickness and there is a lovely soft grey colour 'Ash' in this yarn, with pale grey slubs in it (intead of the multi-colours like in the purple I used for the beanie). Frankly, I prefer the look as it is closer to the one used in the book. It would work out a bit cheaper as I was able to find this at around $9 a ball recently. The thing is, while I prefer the tweed look of this, having used the yarn before I'm not sure the drape on it would be as nice as the other yarn. The yarn in the Japanese book was 20% silk, so would be quite soft and drapey, but the Jo Sharp yarn is only 10% silk (and real silk, which usually involves killing the silkworm during the processing).

Decisions, decisions... It's a tough choice, and no small investment.

Hey knitters, has anyone used the Karaoke soy silk/wool mix before?

[Updated: Whew. OK, I was right up to the last step of ordering the Karaoke soy silk/wool yarn online, all $150 of it, when I had the inspiration to check the knitting community website Ravelry (still in beta test, otherwise I'd link to it) to see what others thought of this yarn. Some love, some like, but a big percentage HATE. I was surprised. Breakages, poor memory in rib, inconsistent thickness, poor colour transitions in the multicolours, dyelot variations in the solid colours... quite a list. I saw a few projects done in the Blacksheep colour I was considering, and the garments had broad stripes of tone variation. Um, pass. So it looks like I might try the Jo Sharp after all. God I love Ravelry!

Oh, and here is a cute critter I found that is made in the exact same Jo Sharp yarn that I'm thinking of using. So cute.


thombeau said...

Without having even seen the sweater, I can tell that the grey soysilk would look terrific for something of modern Japanese design. I hope it works out for you!

The Other Andrew said...

Thom, I just updated the post because it seems that the quality of that yarn is not as good as I hoped. Especially at that price. :( Out of 377 projects made out of the same type of yarn on Ravelry, I'd say about 25% or more seemed disappointed with it and some have seething hatred.

Quatrefoil said...

I'm working on (i.e. I've started and it's languished for a year) a jumper in the Jo Sharp yarn - it has an odd soapy feel to it, but I do like it. It needs a bit of a kickalong, so I'll bring it to knitting at the pub next Sunday if you'll be there. Plan A worked out for me yesterday, so sorry I didn't make it.

And Kirrily has convinced me to sign up to ravelry against my better judgement - I suspect I'll never achieve anything ever again. She says hi, BTW.

Lara said...

Typical. I really liked it :)