I’m very happy to have received another lovely book from fellow designer and friend, Carol Feller. Her ‘Scrumptious Knits’ features 7 patterns worked in ‘Scrumptious’ yarns from ‘Fyberspates’, a lovely independent yarnie in the UK. Although Fyberpates is a hand-dyer, her Scrumptious yarn range is in fact commercially dyed in. It is widely available from yarn shops in the UK, and is now available in the US too where it is distributed by Lantern Moon.
Like Carol, I love Scrumptious. In fact I have recently knitted a couple of pieces with it for my own forthcoming book (‘A Time To Knit’ — more details soon!). So I have focused on the yarn itself in my interview with Carol for her Scrumptious Knits blog tour:
You have used Scrumptious for a lot of your patterns, so clearly you love it! What attracts you to silk-based yarns?
In general, when silk is added to a yarn, the extra sheen, drape, weight and definition make it just lovely to work with. On top of that, the Scrumptious yarn range comes in a very wide range of weights that makes it easy to find the best match for a particular design project. Finally, the amazing range of colours makes them pretty hard to resist.
Which stitch patterns/ techniques do you think are particularly well-suited to these yarns?
The sheen of silk yarn gives great stitch definition, and I actually like creating large expanses of stocking/stockinette and garter stitch, just to allow the sheer beauty of the silk to shine through.
I always try to make a pattern take advantage of the distinctive behaviours and characteristics of the yarn. Swatching is great for this purpose. By working a few inches in the yarn you can quickly learn so much about it: how does it drape? is the yarn enhanced or detracted from when a stitch pattern is added? With silk, it can also help to add a little weight like a clothes peg and hang the swatch the way it will be worn to get an idea of how the weight of the fabric behaves.
What special considerations knitters should have when selecting patterns for silk-based yarns?
The Scrumptious range is not 100% silk, it is 45% silk and the rest is merino. This does make a difference to the working of the yarn. Silk is very heavy and doesn’t have any elasticity so the wool blended with it gives it a small amount of bounce and lightens it somewhat.
Due to these factors you do need to be careful when using silk based yarns. If it is a very large garment in a thicker yarn you need to make sure that you will have some ‘anchor’ points on the body.
A good example of this in Scrumptious Knits is the tunic length ‘Ignus’ that is knit in Aran weight scrumptious. When you pick it up you can feel that it is really heavy! To help the garment hold its shape when it is worn it is ‘anchored’ at the bottom with a wide band of ribbing. This ribbing helps it grip to the body which will help reduce the stretching. Fortunately, if it does stretch, I think the slightly longer style still works well.
Are there special precautions knitters should take when knitting with silk, and why?
I know a lot of knitters who recommend hand moisturizing to avoid pulls when working with silk based yarns, although this has never been an issue for me personally. Having said that, the dk and chunky weights I designed with in the book are both singles yarns and are very loosely spun. So I did have to watch for snagging with these as snags are very hard to correct afterwards and make the stitches look rather uneven.
This wasn’t a problem at all with the aran, lace and sports weight/4 ply which are all plied yarns rather than singles (the several plies twisted around each other give the yarn more cohesion). While these are a lot easier to work with, it does change the nature of the yarn and the stitches definitely look different.
The different make up of the yarn influences what I use the yarn for. The singles yarn looks just wonderful in simple stitches, especially garter. Due to the nature of singles though it is going to be a little more prone to wear and tear so I tend towards designing smaller projects with it.
I love the depth of colour in the Scrumptious yarns. Which is your favourite, and why?
I don’t know a great deal about dyeing yarn but I believe that silk takes dye very readily. This means that with silk in a yarn the colours can be very vibrant and rich. The Scrumptious colour palette, with a big range of jewel tones, really shows this up, and the vibrant, rich colour tones are exactly the colours I’m drawn to. Asking me my favourite colour is a bit like asking me who my favourite child is – I like them all but in many different ways! For a subtle colour I love slate best of all, with olive and oyster close behind. For an everyday knit that still has a splash of colour I like the teal blue. And, I’ve got a really soft spot for bright vibrant colours so the goldwould have to be my hands down favourite in that category!
How do you decide which colour to use for a particular design?
I think my descriptions of the colours above gives a basic idea of how I choose my colours for different designs. When you start designing, you have a picture in your head of both the finished piece and of the style and use of the piece. The colour choice reflects a combination of these.
For example, for a dramatic statement piece I’d be more likely to choose a brighter more vibrant colour. For everyday, more “useful” garments, my colour choice will be more subtle (so that knitters can see how easily it would fit into their everyday life). These same decisions also influence how you style and photograph the knits, as you try to share your overall vision for the finished design.
Thanks to Carol for her being so informative about knitting with silk!
The next post in the Scrumptious Knits blog tour will be by Stefanie Japel early next week. Enjoy!
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