Thursday, June 18, 2015

On Creating Crochet Lace: Fiber Choice Counts!

Hello everyone - I hope the beginning of summer (well, it will be here officially this weekend!) has thus far been good to you.

As some of you may know, I've been conducting a wee test of my Frosted Espresso Cardigan, which publishing rights have reverted back to me and I'll be releasing it once the test is complete. This cardigan is comprised of two different lace patterns - one very open (on the upper sleeves and back) and a puff-based design along the sleeve bottoms and front/neck. This design was intentional - my goal was to have pretty lace in the back and something slightly warmer in the front and along the sleeve openings, where (at least I) find that a little extra warmth is a good thing. For the sample, I used a duo of Rowan yarns held together: Rowan Fine Art (with a fiber makeup of: Merino Wool: 45%, Mohair: 20%, Silk: 10%, Polyamide: 25%), and Rowan Kidsilk Haze which is 70% Mohair and 30% silk. It produced a great looking sample. (Go here to see my previous blog entry about the Rowan yarns.)

Because two different lace/patterns are used, gauge is important, as well as good blocking abilities. I've provided photos of my two original swatches (and I do apologize for the less than spectacular shots, but you get the idea).

I wanted the back and upper sleeve lace sections to open up when blocked. Because of the fair amount of wool content in the Rowan Fine Art, not only did my sample swatches block nicely, but there's still some give to both of them (although, admittedly, I was more aggressive with the lace swatch than the puff-based swatch).

Andean mist from my stash in colorway Chaiten
I have no issue with testers making fiber substitutions - that's the nature of making one's own projects. My testers decided to swap out two yarns held together for one: Berroco Andean Mist, since it was on sale at Webs earlier in the spring. While I've not used it for a project, I do like it, since it's comprised of some wonderful fibers - suri alpaca and mulberry silk. It's also incredibly lightweight and lofty, which I know appealed to one of my testers. I even, albeit briefly, thought about using it (since I'm making a cardigan for myself during this test), but opted for a two-yarn cocktail somewhat similar to my original Rowan blend - LB Collection Silk Mohair (70% mohair, 30% silk), and Lion Brand Sock-ease (75% wool, 25% nylon). The Sock-ease has a higher wool content and nylon, allowing for spring and memory. As you can see in the photo, I swatched with what I had on hand, and liked how the swatch behaved. I still had to purchase more of both yarns, but I was glad to have found a nice match for these two stash skeins.

Fast forward to now, and one of my testers has brought to my attention that perhaps more of the open lace repeats should be included in the pattern, since she really needed to block the h&%# out of her shrug ("to within an inch of its life" were her exact words). While I am willing to tinker (and have pursuant to her request), I do feel this is also a case of even though one achieves gauge (which my tester did with the Andean Mist and an H hook), that perhaps a fiber with some wool in it might have behaved better for her, and I have photos of a little test I did to illustrate the point ... which I'll share in the second installment of this blog post, which will occur in a few days. Stay tuned.

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