The Call of the Silk Sirens

Around Christmastime I found some beautiful bamboo/silk yarn at a local store. The colors were bright, shiny, and vibrant and the feel was soft and buttery. I had been doing a lot of knitting with chunky wools and fell in love with the smooth, delicate look of the bamboo/silk yarn. Also, I had yet to knit with either bamboo or silk.  And those colors! Plum, Slate, Wine, and Sapphire! Just the names made me swoon. Like the mermaids calling the ships to the rocks, I couldn’t resist the call of the silk sirens.

Karl von Blaas, 1882, via Wikimedia Commons

I bought four skeins in two different colors. Then I went back and bought four more skeins in two more colors.

I quickly learned that everything I loved about the yarn in the store was true. On the surface, it was beautiful. It was soft, shiny, and draped beautifully when knit. But oh what a sly temptress when it came to knitting.

I’m not a perfect knitter. I rarely sit and just knit, which means I’m either watching/listening to TV or the radio or talking to someone at the same time. I make mistakes, but they’re small ones and easy to fix. Or at least they were before now.

I’m an Olympics junkie; I watch everything.  This has been the perfect excuse to spend hours knitting in front of the TV. However, watching slope style skiing, figure skating, or snowboard cross and knitting a complicated pattern at the same time, and not forgetting a few YO’s here and there, is impossible. Trust me.

By Tsutomu Takasu, via Wikimedia Commons

With the bamboo/silk, stitches couldn’t be ripped out and put back on the needles without more stitches slipping down a few rows. On the lace panels, this was terribly confusing and almost impossible to fix. Several times I threw in the towel, pulling everything out and taking the scarf all the way back to the K1, P1 ribbing, which was easy to pick back up again. I rarely rip stitches out, but I found myself doing a lot of this during figure skating.

On scarf #4 I wasn’t happy with the way the cables looked, and wanted to add symmetrical twisted knit columns, so I pulled out an entire evening’s worth of knitting back to the beginning. My family gasped, then rolled their eyes, knowing how OCD I am about some most things.

Today I’ll cast off the very last scarf. After weeks of grumbling about how glad I would be to finish off the bamboo/silk yarns, I’m actually kind of sad. The cowl scarves are soooooo soft and pretty and delicate. I’ve never knit anything quite like them before.

Knitted bamboo silk cowls
The finished products.

I learned a lot knitting with these yarns, especially about starting over again. I love a challenge, but knitting a silk blend with aluminum needles was like trying to knit cooked, buttered spaghetti. I should have tried bamboo needles.

Despite my trials, I’m tempted to go back to the store and get more bamboo/silk yarn in a different color.  Why? Because they are so beautiful and sing such a sweet song, especially now that they’ve taken a new form. But it’s time be strong and plug my ears with wax and sail away. The humongous yarn stash in my closet is calling me back. I have treasures buried deep within my huge Tub O’ Yarn that I haven’t seen in months–and a few more days of Olympics to watch.

Advertisements

New Year, New Yarn, Same Old Mistakes

Being a Texas knitter is tough. Nine months out of the year it’s either hot, very hot, or so hot I want to bathe in a bathtub of ice cubes and stay there until January. Since I like to knit with natural materials–wool, alpaca, cashmere–this means that nine months of the year I have a pile of very warm material sitting in my lap.

Ah, but it’s those other three months of the year that are glorious. Daytime temps in the 60’s or 70’s, shorts and sandals in December, and lots and lots of knitting in the evenings.

Forget the shorts and sandals this winter. It’s been COLD, like the-coldest-winter-I-can-ever-remember COLD here in Dallas. The warm little pile of wool in my lap has actually served a purpose this winter–and that’s a good thing.

After a run of chunky wool scarves and cowls, and maybe because it was a new year, I wanted to try something different. Thinking ahead to spring, I found some beautiful, shiny, soft bamboo and silk yarn that looked like it would glide right through my fingers. It did alright, but it was a shock after all the chunky wools.

I decided to start with the plum yarn. Some type of light, airy, lacy pattern called out to be knitted in this deeply beautiful color. I cast on, knit a few rows in the somewhat complicated pattern, only to get distracted by something on TV. I made a mistake. No problem, I’ll just unravel a bit and fix it.

bamboo silk infinity scarf

Easier said than done. This is the first time I’ve ever knit with a bamboo/silk blend and have discovered that beauty comes at a price. Unraveling and fixing small mistakes turned out to be a painstaking endeavor since the stitches on such slippery yarn were very difficult to pick back up. If I didn’t pay attention, the stitches would disappear three rows deep. With such a complicated pattern–lots of K2togs, YOs, and K1tbls–it was impossible to not get confused.

I’m stubborn. After FIVE episodes of ripping everything out and starting all over again, I switched to an easier pattern. Lots of repetition and only two repeating rows. I do have my limits.

Just like all those old new year’s resolutions I never kept, I’m still making the same old mistakes when I knit.

That’s okay. I’m already planning my next bamboo/silk scarf in a light stone color. Now that I’m an expert with bamboo/silk yarns (ha!) maybe I’ll make it a little more complicated–and leave the TV turned off.