Sunday, 23 November 2008

Test Yarn

Why do I knit a test garment? Why work with vintage acrylic and oddments? Because I hate waste! If my knitting goes wrong and I'm working with under a fiver's worth of yarn, I can shrug and put it down to experience. The time that went into it was pleasantly spent - like doing a crossword or a jigsaw. If however I have bought fifty pounds or more worth of yarn, and buttons, and the garment goes wrong, it's a tragedy. I feel that I'm a bad knitter and a wasteful person and all kinds of other horrible feelings that I don't want attached to my hobby!

Sewers make lots of test garments. They keep a supply of gingham or muslin and quickly run up a shell to see how the design works. One book I read said that you can expect to throw away 5 patterns for every one that you will make up with good fabric - fashion fabric they call it, to distinguish it from the test fabric. I thought this was a great idea. When people see me knitting they often say that they gave up knitting because they would spend time and money on a garment, put it on and think: nah! I don't like it. It doesn't suit me. Knitting a test garment saves you from this disappointment.

It takes time of course, but you'd be surprised how much knitting time is spent puzzling out the directions and thinking what the *** does that mean? The second attempt knits up in half the time. I also learnt to knit faster. I was an English knitter, or a thrower. Now I knit Continental, which is nearly three times faster. That makes a difference.

It is always difficult to find a bargain pack of double knit, especially if you want a nice colour as well, but my stash is full of other bargains - so much so that I'm getting stricter about what I buy. Even though I want to test a Kim Hargreaves design in Calmer called Cloud, I passed by a bag of Stylecraft cotton in a bright coral pink. It wasn't my colour! It's shameful how acquisitive I am - part of me still yearns for that bag of yarn - it was a bargain after all!

The Yeoman shade card came - their merino wool looks good (I wasn't keen on the acrylic). Buying direct from them would cost around £20 for a garment. When I get better at knitting, I'll probably start doing my test garments in this kind of yarn - a kind of middle road. There are colours like black, cream, pink and burgundy that are always useful because they go with everything. Then if I really love a garment and it suits me, I'll splash out on the fashion wool in the perfect colour. And when will I be this good? By next year. By the end of next year. By the year after for sure!

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