Saturday, 23 May 2015

I have just finished making

a vest. It has been knitted out of yarn left me by a friend. When she died she asked that her "stash" be given to me.
She was not the sort of person to acquire vast quantities of anything but yes, like most knitters, she had more than she had used or was likely to use. What she did get was often beautiful.
I gave some of it to others. I gave it to friends who knit who would appreciate what they were going to use. I have seen almost all of it knitted up and I know it would give her pleasure to see how it has been used.
And I have used some of it myself. There was some Japanese yarn there. Much of the "Noro" yarn is coveted by knitters. It is a yarn company whose products I have mixed feelings about.
Much of their yarn contains silk. I always feel guilty about the process of making silk fibre. I remember trying to care for silkworms as a child. There was always that anxious hunt for mulberry leaves. I could never have tried to make the thread.
But, being Japanese, silk is often used. That's understandable. 
Perhaps that is why there are often knots in their balls and skeins. I don't know. This may not concern Japanese knitters. It does bother Western ones. There are frequent complaints about knots on knitting pages. 
Then there is the type of yarn. Many of the varieties are "bulky" or "chunky". I am certain people look at a pattern and think, "That will be quick to make."
Perhaps it is for some people but I do not find knitting at the tension (or gauge as they say in North America) of 3 or 4 stitches to an inch particularly easy or satisfying. Some of the other yarns are textured  or loosely plied. Some of them are single ply and that twists awkwardly as you knit. Oh yes, problems.
The end result though can often be interesting. It can feel good. I don't know how well the garments wear. I suspect there may be problems. It is clear that these are not intended to be the sort of hardworking and everyday garment that one wears while doing the gardening. They are fashion items. 
A visitor saw the vest when it was nearly done. She is not a knitter and she asked me, "How did you get the colours to go like that?"
I explained that   this was the way the yarn was dyed. It is dyed in long, long stretches of colour. It can produce a striped effect. Admittedly I had juggled the balls of yarn so that the two fronts "match". The colours this time went from almost black through to pale blue and pale green. There is brown, darker green and darker blue there as well. 
It all sounds strange but perhaps one of the things that interests me most about the yarn I have just used is that mix of colours. It is not a mix that I would have contemplated - but it works. There have been other mixes I have seen. Again, I would not contemplate them in the normal way but they do work. 
It is something I have been able to learn from using something new. I will write a pattern now and I will pass the vest on to my friend Prudence so that other people can try different colour combinations. 
I hope they learn as much as I did.

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