Thursday, 17 May 2012

Design Digest: Ammonite - Part 2

... in which, amongst other things, she talks about sock yarn, choosing a knitting project to suit your mood and the skill level required to knit an Ammonite.

When approaching a design, simplicity is sometimes best. I suppose this is the essence of my previous post on designing Ammonite. Once I had accepted this simple, yet fundamental rule, the design process assumed its own momentum. However, as already mentioned in Part I of my design digest, the first knitted sample turned out to resemble an Elizabethan collar rather than a generously sized, ruffled shawl.

Ammonite: First Test - Knit

This was clearly down to my choice of yarn and a kfb - increase bonanza. Repeated attempts of ironing these faults out with the help of prolonged and intense blocking, yielded only very limited results and did not really seem to make much of an impact overall. It soon dawned on me that I needed to have a rethink on my choice of yarn and moderate my use of increases.

In the first instance I had a look at my stash, which was lacking sock yarn at the time. I briefly contemplated knitting a second Ammonite in Patons UK Misty, but decided against it in the end. I felt that cobweb - type mohair yarn would not give sufficient expression to the ribbed texture of the stitch motif. The answer, obviously, was to use sock yarn and so I went yarn shopping. Joy! (No, this time I really had to...;-) Of course, I had seen some very enticing sock yarns (100g @ £15.00) and even though these looked tempting, I decided to settle on a less costly alternative for two reasons:

Firstly, my pattern required a fair quantity of yarn, approximately 300g to be precise. And secondly, I did not want to overspend on materials, not knowing whether my pattern would actually be right for the materials chosen.

Mietze ... inspecting again

As regards the more reasonably priced yarns, I singled out two candidates: 4ply Regia, that old staple, and the lesser known, 4 - ply Knitglobal, which also happens to be more reasonably priced than Regia - at least where I purchased it. (I recently discovered that prices for Knitglobal vary immensely depending on where it is purchased.)

Ammonite Picot Edge Detail in Knitglobal

In the end I decided against Regia, another yarn brand that comes under the umbrella of the Coats Crafts empire, and in favour of Knitglobal. (By the way, there is nothing wrong with Coats Crafts yarns. They are perfectly good yarns. Along Sirdar and Patons, Rowan, for example, are also part of Coats Crafts and produce fantastic yarns. Nevertheless, I personally feel that Coats have a rather dominant position in the UK marketplace and sometimes it's nice to work and experiment with lesser - known products, especially if, as in my case, these actually turn out to be less expensive, but are of the same and / or similar quality. What's more, Knitglobal's sock yarn comes in a variety of vibrant colours. Regia's colour palette, by comparison, presented itself as rather plain.

Knitglobal 4 ply Sock Yarn in Plum

I chose Plum for my Ammonite, because I felt that considering the existing colour scheme of my everyday wardrobe (black, white, grey and navy), I was able to dress - up existing outfits with a shawl in a strong, expressive colour that would stand out. I purposefully, decided against using variegated or tonal yarn. As I have recently been contacted by a fellow Raveler in respect of the use of tonal yarn for Ammonite, I think it is necessary to mention this point.  I am pretty much a sock yarn novice and have never used variegated yarn in any of my projects thus far. In fact, I am not sure whether I like it that much. It might be suitable for sock patterns. Certain shawl patterns - Wingspan comes to mind - really benefit from the use of variegated yarn, but, personally, I prefer and tend to opt for plain colours in most of my knitting projects. As for Ammonite, I would always advocate the use of a plain colour or only a very slight tonal change in the colour, as intensely variegated yarn might have an adverse effect on showcasing the pattern and the structure of the garment. Having said that, I would be intrigued to see an Ammonite in tonal yarn and I am very tempted myself to knit up a small swatch with some picot edging just to see whether it works. If the swatch turns out well, the design might work in variegated yarn, too. It's worth a little experiment, I think.

Finally, some general comments on Ammonite, the skill level required and the mood I was in when knitting the pattern: 

Ammonite really is an easy knit and, apart from the set - up, all you have to be able to do is knit, purl, perform kfb increases and count your rows as well as stitches. In comparison to heavily involved lace patterns, it requires relatively little active concentration. On top of that, the pattern is rather forgiving. If you, let's say, purl one too many rows, you don't have to rip everything apart and start afresh. There is no need for lifelines, copious amounts of stitch markers or the need to memorise lengthy stitch motifs. If you are looking for something really involved, Ammonite is not for you. If, however, you are after a relaxing knit that doesn't always require one hundred per cent of your attention and instead takes you away to the land of knit and purl for a few hours, then this may be just the right project. When I knitted mine, I did not want a project that was too involved, rather a nice, knitterly distraction that kept me occupied for some time and provided a much needed distraction. Should you get fed up with it, Ammonite is also the kind of project that can be locked away for a few weeks. As and when you decide to return to it, you will be able to pick up from where you left off seamlessly.

Should you require support, please feel free to contact me via Ravelry or leave a comment below.

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