Sunday, 10 June 2007

Because my eyes are bigger than my stomach

Love this cabled pattern - don't you love this cabled pattern? Of course you love this cable pattern. Balderash, I refuse to believe you if you said you didn't. It's actually done in bamboo.

A question: why's bamboo yarn so expensive though? Can someone tell me? If it's readily available, recycleable and gentle for the earth, why the heck has it got to be so expensive? Like, you know the drill: one ball costs €3,30 (£2.30) you think, that's great, right? But the yardage is questionable, and it takes about 12 balls to do a long sleeved top. As it is, if I used the recommended yarn, this top would set me back €75 or £53! After my tussles with Rowan Calmer, I don't think that I'll ever make that sort of investment in a yarn again. The kicker is, I usually knit to a small size (I'm a size 10/12 UK about a europe 38/40 or a US 6/8) with a 34" bust - and yet, I have to pause when it comes to the recommended yarn.


Damn. But the pattern is cute, with its wide sleeves and A line shape, you could wear a long sleeved shirt underneath if it got too cold. The top would be skimming enough to forgive the bulk of your long sleeved T, hide the excesses of the biscuit tin and would just be really cool in the wardrobe. Although I think the blue is fine, my wardrobe doesn't support that sort of blue. I'm too orangey-brown for this kind of blue. On the other hand, you don't want to do such a dark colour to obscure all the cable work. Decisions, decisions.

Probably a dark grey? Hmmm.

Here's the thing: with the bamboo yarn it gives the top the drape that it has despite all the cabling without it being too heavy or bulky. If you did it in cotton, it would stretch, if you did it in wool, with its elasticity depending on the yarn, the cables would be akin to having the snugness of a fist so you might not get the drape that makes it attractive in the first place.

I could see a cotton/elastacine mix working for this, like a lana grossa point (the yarn that Durnham uses in Loop d Loop due to its stretchability) and probably Calmer. But to be point, on the latter yarn, I'd only buy Calmer again if it were on sale. It's a good yarn, and I'm in love with it, but the price is crazy.

I like the sleeveless top here, with the ribbed neck and waist edging. I love the sweep and scoop of this pink blouse. I'm not a fan of the crew neck or the little tiny 'V' knitted vests, because of the shirts I wear. I have four skiens of Merino yarn that's crying for this project. I'd do two: one in brown and green to wear over my shirts in winter and fall.
So. Details.

Had to order this magazine for these patterns. They are from Phildar spring 2. Although the shipping is a b*tch, I can't get Phildar magazines in my parts of the UK. Vogue, Rebecca, and the ubquitous Rowan, yes. But Phildar, no. I hear that they tend to micromanage their image, so not just any one can carry their products.

When I visited Paris all those years ago, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and quantity of the yarn shops. My French was horrible, and it seemed that the people there weren't too happy to see my pounds sterling either. So I bought a magazine as a keepsake for my sojurn in Paris. I was told that next time I travel to France I should try smaller towns. My experience should be better. We'll see.

What makes Phildar patterns so fab is their sensibilities - very streamlined, very neat. The clothes are designed to waltz into your wardrobe and give it substance as well as style.

Whereas American designers tend to be on the extremes : either the rather very simple stocking stitch in the round tops ala the chicks at Zeyphr designs or eyewateringly complicated ala Norah Gaughn. British knitting designers tend to be surprisingly conservative and sweet - even the people at Weardowney - and can be on this side of boring.

But I digress - with Phildar, the designs seem to be neat and relatively foolproof - once you get over the hurdle of pattern issues (I know that the patterns can be hard to grapple with)- no -one has ever really gotten a Phildar pattern wrong once they've finished it. I love this Khaki jacket -it's done in cotton, three quarter sleeves and very cool.

I'd love to do it in a military green (like a dark jungle green) just so that it can go with my wardrobe. It's simple, elegant and seems fun to knit. I don't have to think, you know? Just doing it while watching TV and the rest of it.
So, what do you think? Answers on a postcard.

Right now, it's getting too warm to knit, so I'm actually buying crochet hooks.

The crochet renaissance seems to be American led, and as a result, the hook sizes the designers like seem to range from 3.25mm to 6.omm.

This is interesting for me since I'm used to the 1.00-1.65mm hooks. Like I said, when I was a child I crocheted.

Back in the day, we'd crochet doilies for coffee tables - one big one as well as two little baby ones. My mum was an exceptional crocheter. She'd do doilies as a sideline with flounced edges and ancora thread. The ones that were the precursor to space dyed, you know what I mean. Like, you'd have blue stripes then white, none of the fading or pooling that we mourn over, but just solids of colour. Mum would also startch these doilies - like really strong starch so that the arch and flare of the flounces would stay up, just so.

I've never really thought of crochet as wearable art - all those holes!- due to my youth. I know crochet as curtain materials, something for towel edges and little flowers for hats and bags.

So, full disclosure. I'm girding my loins to crochet that orange coat from Teva Durham's book. Yes, I know it's advanced, and that I'll cry tears before I'm done. But it will be something, no? I've ordered (and gotten) one skien of blue apalaca organic cotton to knit with. I fear that this jacket may be a bit too heavy, so if I'm not too taken with the sample of the organic cotton, I think I'm going to go lighter. The jacket isn't really for layers anyway, no? It's more clothing as art, and you'd wear it on a lovely summer's day.

Stick with me kids, it's gonna be an adventure.


JayJay said...

I have to agree with you, the blue sweater is stunning! I love the others you've picked too, but the blue one is lust-worthy. I have no idea why bamboo is so expensive. Perhaps the processing is time-consuming/expensive?

I have been crocheting a lot too, but mostly baby afghans. I find that crochet blankets go very fast and still look lovely. I will be anxiously following along on your crochet adventure, as I decide whether to tackle a garment myself. (p.s. my mom also made tons of starched doilies; I still have several)

cranberry said...

Hah! I'm knitting the medium size for Teva Durham's orange jacket, only to find that I bought the wrong hook (5.5mm instead of 6.0mm). So, I can't even start on the pattern.

Soon though!

Oksana said...

That is a gorgeous cardigan! I'm not so sure that the yarn has to be that expensive, though. I know that you live in the UK, but websites such as and offer some very good deals. You may also find a suitable substitute for bamboo yarn; could a blend of wool and silk work? I'm knitting some right now but it's sock weight and it looks like this cardigan requires bulkier yarn.
How about giving eBay a go? Somebody out there may be selling a bunch of bamboo yarn for (relatively) cheap!

cranberry said...

Blend of wool and silk, hmmm? *ponders* I have a ball of Rowan wool/silk that I'm willing to sacrifice for such a noble cause. I'll wait until I get the mag and have a think about it though. :)

Thanks for the heads up on the sites. I don't think knitpicks sells bamboo yarn though?