Thursday, October 24, 2019

Yarn Challenge - Baby Velvet

This yarn jumped into my shopping cart at Michael's:

I usually shy away from Chenille.  Although it is incredibly soft and pretty, it can be difficult to knit.  Sometimes it biases so I have a  diamond instead of a rectangle, and sometimes it "worms" later, after the project is finished and used.

I have had good luck with high quality chenille, in terms of holding up once it was knitted, and truly lousy luck with other chenille yarns.  I like all-cotton chenille.

This is polyester chenille, and I didn't know how it would behave.  I wanted it anyway.  I was standing in the store petting it like a yarn idiot.  I thought the colors were wonderful beachy, shell colors and I have loved ones who live in Huntington Beach.  I don't know how true the colors are on your monitor, but the pink is a pale, slightly peachy rose and the other color is a pale taupe.  My plan was to make the Seashell Stitch Child's Afghan, but adult-sized.  (This is not the seashell stitch in the YouTube video.  I've changed the method and like this one better.)

I also didn't know how much to buy, and purchased two skeins of each color, hoping it was enough for an afghan.  The yardage is incredible - 492 yards in a 10.5 ounce (300 gram) skein.  It's labeled yarn group 4 (worsted) with 4 stitches to the inch.

Chenille yarn has a central core and cut fibers coming out from there.  That means that sometimes you can get chenille yarn to knit on a smaller gauge machine than you'd expect.  I had already been experimenting with using my 150-needle mid-gauge with a loose tension and somewhat larger yarns.  I was very pleasantly surprised at how well this yarn knits on my Studio 860 mid-gauge at tension 9.

Now I've knitted a while (seashell stitch takes a bit of time, as it is all short-rowing), and I have two big, awesome surprises!

Awesome Width - I have already ranted about how wide Seashell Stitch turns out.  I am getting over 46" in width!   This is before the edging I use on that blanket.  It is actually a little wider than the needle bed.

Awesome Yardage - I had already mentioned how much yardage there was, but as soon as I had a little knitting done, I realized how very light the fabric is.  I don't mean thin and cool - not at all!  This is fluffy and warm.  I'm referring to how light a whole handful of the fabric feels, almost weightless. 
The yarn just goes on and on.  I have used most of the first two skeins and I've already got 43" in length. 

Even if I make this afghan extra long (I like long afghans) and add my side edging, I will have yarn left over! 

I am very happy with the stitch.  Of course, as soon as I got going, I thought about other ways I could do this.  I could use more colors and graduate them; I could use a background color and all sorts of colors for the shell checkers.  Two rows of each color makes a bit of a ripple.  However, the option that really fires my imagination is to make diagonal stripes, which I already know from making mid-gauge shell shawls is easy.  This just shows you how hard I am finding it to get this stitch out of my system.

I did give out the Seashell Stitch Shawl pattern, which is not yet available for sale, to my Princeton, Minnesota seminar participants, and I asked for feedback on the pattern.  I am going to give it to the San Francisco seminar attendees next month, too. 

Here's a closeup of the knit side of the shell stitch in this yarn, unblocked and still hanging on the machine.  It is making up with less of a three-dimensional texture than it has in other yarns, but it still has the raised look to each shell.  The fabric is soft, light, and a bit limp. 

If you work with this yarn, do rewind it and use it from the outside, leaving it on the winder's core.  I put mine on cones, and it is feeding into the machine very well.  Just looking at the stuff as it feeds, I can see it has a tendency to catch on itself on its way to the upper tension unit, and I know it would tangle and give me trouble if it were poorly rewound.

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