Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Yarn Tales Tuesday

A Mix of Materials

  Have you ever mixed different yarns together in a project? Did it work out fine, or was it a disaster? What about mixing different kinds of material? Have you ever created something using more than just yarn?

  I've just finished up one project using two different kinds of yarn in contrasting colors. Now I'm working on a project using two completely different materials. While working on the afghan with combined yarns, I was lucky to have no problems with gauge. Both yarns develop into the same size fabric, despite not feeling the same while working with them.    

  The yarns I combined are Caron One Pound and Caron Simply Soft. I ran into the same problems with them as usual, but at least there was no issue with the finished size and shape of my project. Click the links to read my original reviews of Caron One Pound and Simply Soft. These reviews explain the difficulties I have with Caron brand yarns.

  My latest project is a challenge! This is what I often get when I let my kid design something. I say "I want to make a (fill in subject here), do you want to help me come up with some ideas?" No matter what it might be, she always takes creativity to the top. I was planning something with multiple colors of plarn (plastic yarn), but now we're up to two colors of plarn and some Simply Soft

  The first thing necessary is to work up gauge swatches. Ha! The plarn I had already prepared won't work. When worked up, it's probably equal to a sport or DK weight yarn, while the Simply Soft is worsted. I already knew my rows were coming up short, so I didn't bother to complete the swatch. So it was back to the drawing board...

  Is it a disaster? No, not for me; at least not this time. Fortunately, I prepare plarn in my spare time, just getting rid of bags and making a stock for future projects. Fun, right? I've been told I need a better hobby! Well, regardless of what others without any hobbies say, I enjoy doing something to avoid filling up a landfill. But to get back to the subject (let's come back to this subject later), my project doesn't need to be scrapped or changed at all. Luckily, I thought of using double strands, like with the Welcome Mat I designed. With both strands held together, the plarn will equal the gauge of Simply Soft.

  Back to my side subject: Walmart bags. Unfortunately, we don't have many choices for shopping in the small town I live in. Well, it's not like Walmart is the only store in town, but the others price gouge to the point of poverty. So we're left with Walmart, and their bags, because I refuse to pay over $5 for a gallon of milk or a dozen eggs. So, you might notice many of my projects using the familiar gray and blue bags.

  How many of you are screaming at me to get some reusable bags? Been there, done that! I put them on the conveyor, the cashier moved them on top of the bag carousel, then she puts the groceries in the disposable bags. Okay, we'll try again next time, right? The same thing happened the next time, even after I spoke up, making sure she knew what they were for. A third time, I went as far as to put them on the racks in front of the bags, then I needed to go back to the conveyor to put my groceries up. This guy moves my bags, and puts my stuff in disposables again! I complained to the manager, who told me reusable bags "can be a hassle for our cashiers". REALLY? Why do you sell them at the register then? So, I make plarn because there's no getting through to these people.

  Okay, I'll end my rant, and I apologize, because the subject is yarn, plarn, and mistakes (or success), not Walmart, right?

  With some innovative thinking, I was lucky enough to avoid having to cut more plarn just for this project. Another option would have been to change hook size, but being slightly more than half the thickness of the yarn, the plarn pieces would have larger spaces in the fabric, while I need something compact. In the end, the double strands of plarn make a stronger, thicker fabric matching the gauge of the yarn. The only other choice would be to cut more bags.

  This can often be a problem when working with a scrap busting project. Have you ever had to *scrap* your idea for a project? Two yarns may both be worsted weight, but they might not work up in the same gauge. Would you choose to change hook sizes, or the materials used? Have you ever made the mistake of beginning a mixed material project without making swatches first? I'll admit it, I'm guilty, who else?

  I repeatedly jump into patterns without making a swatch, when the gauge doesn't really matter and it uses all the same material. Does it really matter much if an afghan or a bag finishes an inch or two off? Not to me, when I'm making it for myself. But what about that sweater? An inch or two can result in a garment that doesn't fit!

  Sometimes it is very important to test your gauge. Whether because of mixed material or for sizing, working up gauge swatches makes the difference between finishing a project, or having to say "Oh, scrap!"

  Please, share your disasters and successes with us to help others avoid the same problems. I once had a beach bag turn out 3 feet tall!  Have you ever had a crochet calamity because your gauge was off? Was it using different materials?

  Learning to make swatches can save your projects. What projects have come out perfectly by checking your gauge?

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