Monday, July 22, 2013

Balls,Skeins,and Hanks; What's the difference?!

Not so long ago I had it in my mind that all yarn comes in only one form, the ball. The ball of yarn reminiscent of that of which a kitty cat would play with. However, this is far from the truth. Yarn comes prepared in many different ways. Let's begin with Balls.

Balls of yarn are usually the most familiar to beginner knitters. Balls are ready to knit as-is. You can usually pull the yarn from the outside of the ball or from the inside.

Now a skein is also ready to knit as-is but it is more of an oblong-shape, kinda like an egg. The majority of yarns that are sold in the big-box craft stores come in the form of skeins (think Lion Brand and Patons).

Hanks of yarn are a bit more difficult as they are not ready as-is. A hank of yarn needs to be wound using a ball-winder before you can begin knitting. Specialty yarn stores (LYS) typically carry yarn in the form of hanks. They look very beautiful and showcase color variation nicely.

So there you have it! 

Friday, July 12, 2013

My Fair Isle Lady

Lately I have been greatly inspired by Fair Isle Knitting, partially because I am in love with this pattern by Cascade. The pattern itself is a simple stockinette but what makes this stocking incredible is the stranded color work.

As with other types of knitting, Fair Isle has an interesting history. The word Fair Isle comes from the island off the coast of Scotland where it became quite popular. Many patterns that you see that are knit in the Fair Isle style are done in a limited color palette.

To achieve the different colored patterns you knit with multiple stands of yarn that follow or float behind your work, therefore most Fair Isle pieces tend to be thicker and heavier.

Since I have a newborn to feed/change/play with/jiggle/sing too/cuddle every 2-3 hours knitting in the Fair Isle style has been the perfect. Seeing the patterns develop quickly is very rewarding and the only stitch you use is knit. I don't have to worry about purls, ssk's, k2tog's, psso as you have to with lace and more intricate patterns.

You can actually see the yarn itself puckering in some areas. This can happen if your floats (the yarn behind your work) are too tight. Since the puckering is very minimal I am hoping with a little bit of blocking it will straighten itself out like a good little stocking. Have I ever mentioned how much I love stockinette stitch? LOVE. IT.