Thursday, February 16, 2017

Morphology - Take Two

I knit a few more rows on this project on Tuesday and found myself growing more and more concerned with what I perceived as a mis-match between the yarn thickness and the needle size.  I found myself playing with the knitting, pulling it and stretching it and worrying about the stability of the resulting fabric.
What really worried me was the size of the purl bumps.  That is a lot of yarn sitting there, and a lot of potential for stretching.  There were a couple of statements in the pattern directions that I found particularly disturbing:

"Linen stitch pulls in dramatically as the work progresses".

This would be due to the bar of the slipped stitch, and would be exacerbated by a tight knitter.  I found myself working tighter than I typically do, just because of my psychological discomfort with the larger needles.

"You will find that the resulting fabric is stable when dry, but quite flexible when wet. You may find that with wear, the fabric may grow in circumference; with wet-blocking you can shape the fabric back to its original proportions."

These statements really got me wondering, so I dug through my stash for more "emergency" sock yarn skeins and knit another swatch on US 6 (4 mm) needles.  My needle size choice was driven by a simple consideration of the linen stitch - each stitch has to span two rows, so I used a needle size that was twice the size of what I might have used in a normal stockinette stitch garment.

The original swatch is on the left, the new swatch is on the right.  The original swatch is 32 stitches by 44 rows, binding off on row 45.  For the new swatch I cast on 32 stitches but bound off on row 44 because I didn't feel like cracking open a new "emergency" skein to finish off row 44 and bind off.  The new swatch was blocked to 5.5" wide by 4" tall, but it rebounded to 5" wide by 3.75" tall.  The original swatch was blocked to 6.5" wide by 4" tall.  The width rebounded to 6".  The new swatch still has some stretch, but not to the extent of the original swatch, which has considerable stretch, especially in the width.  Both have nice drape - so despite going down on the needle size, my new swatch is not stiff as a board.  You could get it there, if you went down even further on the needle size, but that was not my goal - I just wanted a garment that would have some stability.
If you look at the back side, you can again see the extra fiber in the purl bumps in the original swatch.  The other advantage of going down on the needle size is that I don't need to work a super stretchy cast on and bind off.

So, I'm going to frog what I've got and cast on again on the US 6 needles.  I've got to say, I love the colors.  They just make me smile.

Pattern:  Morphology by A. Karen Alfke
Yarn:  Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock Lightweight in Sprinkles and Shannanogins
Needle:  US 6 (4 mm)

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