One of the things you learn as a bench scientist (usually sooner rather than later) is that most experiments don't turn out quite the way you planned them. Over the weekend, I decided that I would do a little felting test. I wanted to see how certain stitches behaved with regards to size when felting and I wanted to see if it was possible to see special stitch patterns (such as cables or ribbing) after felting. I wanted to see how Cascade Quattro (Color #9434) felted. Finally, I wanted to see what thickness felting would two strands of yarn would get me, and if I would get any interesting color patterns if I felted two different strands of yarn together So before I took off with Julie on a little yarn store expedition, I started knitting up this batch of swatches using my Cascade 220, Aporto.
The top left and middle left swatches are two strands, one done in stockinette and the other in garter. There is one strand of Aporto and one strand of Quattro 9434. The bottom left swatch is the garter sticch swatch. The top middle swatch and the bottom middle swatch are 1/.2 garter stich and 1/2 K3P3 rib and 1/2 stockinette stitch, 1/2 K3P3 rib, respectively. The top right swatch is the Quattro by itself, with two knitted cables (in opposite directions), each of which is 6 stitches wide and separated by 4 stitches. The bottom right is just stockinette.
Here's a close up of the two stranded combined before and after felting:
I knew the combo was ugly together before I started and it didn't look any better after felting -- kind or reminded me of carpet padding. I also discovered that knitting too tightly does seem to hamper the felting process, as neither the stockinette or garter version of the two stranded stuff seemed to felt fully, even though there were slightly more than 3 full washer cycles on this felting process.
Here's a close up of the Quattro 9434 before and after felting:
For me, this was yarn that looked better on the skein than it did knitted up. I wanted to like it more, but was disappointed. I knew it wouldn't show the cables very well (I just wanted to see what would happen to the cables after I felted them. The answer... you see some slight bumps and the felted fabric elongates over the area where the purl stitches are. I think maybe if my cables were wider, the experiment would have been more successful. I didn't much like the colors in the felted fabric, either. I'm not showing more than a closeup, because there isn't much more to see. John described the colors as "a little too 70's".
The 1/2 garter/stockinette and 1/2 ribbing swatches were also pretty much a failure -- no stitch definition. They both had more curvature in the edge where the ribbing was, but there are easier ways to get a curved edge. So this experiment was pretty much a failure too.
Talk about reminding me of some of my bad-old days in the lab as a newbie grad student!
But the plain stockinette and garter stich pieces did give me shrinkage information... and here it is, in case it would be useful for you:
Garter stitch swatch, 1 strand, size 11 needles. 3.5 st/inch, 6 rows/inch.
Starting Dimensions: 5" w x 4-1/2" h Final dimensions: 3-1/2" w x 2-1/4" h
Stockinette stitch swatch, 1 strand, size 11 needles, 3.5 st/inch, 4.5 rows/inch.
Starting Dimensions: 4" w x 5-1/8" h Final dimensions: 3" w x 3" h
Conclusions: both stiches shrink more vertically (on a percentage of starting size) basis than horizontally. I got about 20-25% shrinkage in width for both stitch types. In height, the garter stitch felted down to 50% the original while the stockinette lost about 40% of its height.
So now I have to spend some time thinking about where to go next. I think it's time for me to start taking a good look at some more felted bag patterns for construction and thickening.
My knitting expedition with Julie was much more interesting. We checked out Wool & Company and Fine Line Creative Arts Center, both in in St. Charles, IL (note: this qualifies as being at almost the far edge of the universe for me...deepest, darkest suburbia. But St. Charles is kind of a cute place, even if they were celebrating St. Patrick's day with a parade on March 7th...)
Wool & Company is a wonderful little store. I wish they were closer to Chicago. Lots and lots of great yarn! I got to see Noro Shinano for the first time (and decided that it's a little drab for me), found some beautiful Koigu for socks (one color way in greens and yellows seemed to me like it would make a perfect pair for my dad... he has a John Deere tractor that it would go smashingly with, and one colorway in oranges, greens, browns and reds that I think could become a pair of Crusoe socks, and got to see a lot of the Cascade 220 Quattro. They also stocked AddiTurbos, so I picked up a pair of US1s and and a pair of US 0's for socks on 2 circs. This store was also populated by friendly staff. If you're out in the direction of St. Charles, it's definitely worth dropping in.
Fine Line was a little harder to find. But if you need Jo Sharp yarn or anything from Rowan or weaving and dying supplies, this is your place. I didn't buy anything here, but it was nice to see all the Summer Tweed colors up close and personal. They also carried a lot of Colinette, which I just love touching and admiring.
I had hoped to start the Crusoe socks this weekend, but discovered that while my rows/inch are correct, my stitches/inch is off (too many stitches/inch). So I will have to postpone those socks until I order some size 2 Addis. I started a pair of Regia socks for myself, instead, using some Ringel Color that I bought off eBay. I figured since I ripped out all of St. Kilda today, it was okay to start on another project. St. Kilda will come back, but probably not until late summer or fall when I start to think about warm winter sweaters. This sweater was for John, but with Spring just around the corner, I would rather just let the yarn relax and put this one on the back burner in favor a lighter sweater (maybe in All Seasons Cotton, Calmer or Wool Cotton from Rowan).