Sir Tristan and I have set out on a quest across the internet and beyond. We are looking, quite enthusiastically, for a good yarn sub for the SKB (Simple Knitted Bodice).
I’ve mentioned previously that the cost of the featured yarn used in the pattern would also be the cost to feed a small third world nation for a week. Thusly, I am looking for a less expensive way to go with this sweater but still have it be lovely and sexy.
The featured yarn is Tilli Tomas Pure and Simple. This yarn is 100% pure silk. Each skein is 260 yards per 100 grams (we willl need to think of this as 130 yards per 50 grams for comparison sake later). The recommended gauge is 4.5 stitches/inch on size 7 needles. The SKB pattern gauge is 5 stiches/inch on size 7 needles. According to the pattern the silk yarn will “grow” so apparently that is why they want the tighter gauge, but I would think you would have to decrease your needle size to achieve it.
I have had sort of revolving ideas about what yarn I could use to knit this sweater. I first started with the idea of dying and spinning all the yarn for the sweater using my merino/tencel rovings. I have under 12 ounces so I’m worried that I just won’t have enough after sampling it. What if it takes a while to get the right wpi to get the right gauge? I could use up 1/2 the fiber just trying to spin it right! So I moved on to the idea of using my Karaoke Top (I have 8 ounces) and spinning that up as the accent/beaded yarn and then purchasing coordinating Karaoke yarn to knit the main part of the sweater. I’ve been mulling that over for a while trying to see what other people have knit with it. In the meantime I’ve considered a few other possiblities. I think a chart/list is in order at this point:
Yarn name, fiber content, yardage per 50 grams, recommended gauge on yarn label, price per ball/skein, (gauge I got if I swatched)
Tilli Tomas Pure and Simple, silk, 130 yards, 4.5 stitches/inch on 7’s, $14.00 per 50 grams or $28.00 for the whole 100 gram skein
Debbie Bliss Cathay, 50% cotton, 35% viscose, 15% silk, 110 yards, 5.5 stitches/inch on 5’s, $8.25 (5 stitches per inch on 6’s)
Classic Elite Classic Silk, 50% cotton, 30% silk, 20% nylon, 135 yards, 5 stitches/inch on size 6. $6.99 (5 stitches per inch on 7’s)
Cascade Pima Tencel, Cotton and Tencel, 120 yards, 5 stitches/inch on 7’s, $4.80
Karaoke, 50% soy silk, 50% wool, 109 yards, 4.5 stitches/inch on 7’s, $8.85
Elann Peruvian Highland Silk, 80% wool, 20% silk, 122 yards, 5.25 stitches/inch on 6’s, 3.98
Berroco Soft Twist, rayon blend, 100 yards, 5 stitches/inch on 8’s, 4.85
So I think that about covers it for the yarns that I’ve looked at so far. I do have a couple of pictures:
These are the prelim swatches for Cathay and Classic Silk to see if they are in right ball park gauge-wise. (oh my, I just used a sports analogy, what was I thinking!)
This is my Mermaid Karaoke fiber – very appealing, yes?
Now for the exciting part! The analysis. I think that all the above yarns would most likely make gauge for SKB. I’m going to eliminate the Cathay because I don’t like the fabric that it makes at 5 stitches/inch – I think it wants to be knit tighter (at least by me). I’m going to eliminate the Berroco soft twist because I want to use more natural fibers. I’m going to eliminate the Classic Elite Classic Silk because even though I think it is right-on with gauge, I think it is too rustic for a sexy sweater (maybe for a second knitting though?). I’m going to eliminate the Cascade Pima Tencel because knitting with cotton is hard on my hands and I have a couple of other cotton projects that need to be finished. I’ve already eliminated the Tilli Tomas for the expense.
That leaves the Karaoke option and the Elann Peruvian Silk. I encounted 2 blogs today that discuss each of these choices. Rae at ExtravaYarnza is knitting SKB in Karaoke. She doesn’t give any information about the gauge (at least I didn’t see it), but I think that she is knitting in the solid Mermaid color that I would choose to match my roving and I kind of like how it looks. (If anyone is interested she gives some tips on short row shaping for more endowed ladies, I, however, do not need to read that part.) Also did you notice that although the Tilli Tomas yarn has more yards, the Karaoke matches it for recommended gauge? The Karaoke is 21 yards shorter than the TT silk. I know that the fibers may have a different density that accounts for that, but I’m going to guess that the Karaoke is a bit thicker and I think that it will knit nicer for me as my knitting tends to look better at tighter gauges. Heide at But Mom is knitting SKB in the Peruvian silk. It is coming out quite lovely. She has a pretty good discussion on sizing issues and stringing beads.
Costwise, the Elann Peruvian Silk is definitely the least expensive coming in at about $40.00 for the long sleeve version. For me the Karaoke would be about $53.00 as I already own the roving and the beads. I think Sir Tristan is trying to tell me that I may have found the grail and I haven’t even realized it yet. I keep thinking that I should wait and read more blogs and get more opinions, but as I said in my dyeing post, sometimes you have to get off the internet and just do it!
BTW, Please take a trip down to the bottom of my page and feed Sir Tristan a strawberry. He has had a long journey and is quite exhausted now! (But don’t feed the bears! That is bad – click here to see!)