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 Only wool for 2-color Knitting?
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Mamaknits
New Pal

USA
9 Posts

Posted - 03/29/2006 :  07:18:43 AM  Show Profile Send Mamaknits a Private Message
Hi All --

I've been admiring the artistic designs in the likes of Meg Swanson's "Sweaters from Camp" book lately. I think I'm ready to undertake such a project but I'm wondering if I have to go 100% wool like Swanson and her amazing mother, Elizabeth Zimmerman, suggest.

I live in a warmish climate and would get relatively little wear out of a heavy 100% wool sweater. Has anyone had good results in two-color knitting with cotton or cotton blends? Thoughts, comments and suggestions from the voices of experience would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks! Mary C.

Shelia
Permanent Resident

USA
2356 Posts

Posted - 03/29/2006 :  07:48:53 AM  Show Profile  Visit Shelia's Homepage Send Shelia a Private Message
I've seen really beautiful multi-color sweaters in Tahki Cotton Classic, the stitch definition is great and the color selection is large.

Shelia
www.letstalkstash.blogspot.com
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HilaryL
Gabber Extraordinaire

USA
360 Posts

Posted - 03/29/2006 :  07:55:41 AM  Show Profile Send HilaryL a Private Message
I have done intarsia with cotton with no problem. I made a baby sweater in Stork and a little girl's sweater in Debbie Bliss Cotton Denim Aran with a cotton chenille design, and they look great (if I say so myself.:)

Hilary
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of troy
Permanent Resident

USA
2474 Posts

Posted - 03/29/2006 :  07:59:53 AM  Show Profile  Visit of troy's Homepage Send of troy a Private Message
in my gallery, there is a photo of a fair ilse sweater (childrens size 4) i made for my grand daughter, all in grace (size 5 needles) cotton (Paton's grace)

practice making potholders or other items in cotton, it doesn't knit up the same as wool. learn to knit well with cotton before you try fair isle with it, (you can do fair isle potholders/placemats).

See my photo albums of knitting. http://img78.photobucket.com/albums/v299/oftroy/
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LittleMousling
Permanent Resident

USA
1093 Posts

Posted - 03/29/2006 :  08:09:06 AM  Show Profile  Visit LittleMousling's Homepage Send LittleMousling a Private Message
You can do colorwork in anything, though fuzzy mohair and the like will obscure the patterns.

The main issue is with steeking - I wouldn't trust a cotton steek, or one from most other fibers. But there are certainly ways to work around that.

-Molly, obsessive but not exclusive socknitter
Stash photos and some FOs
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cat.k.
Chatty Knitter

USA
292 Posts

Posted - 03/29/2006 :  10:07:49 AM  Show Profile Send cat.k. a Private Message
You might need to choose fairly fine cotton --- stranded or fair isle work done with thicker cotton could get really heavy.

Cat
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Laura Ver
Seriously Hooked

656 Posts

Posted - 03/29/2006 :  10:41:07 AM  Show Profile  Visit Laura Ver's Homepage Send Laura Ver a Private Message
I have done some colorwork with Cotton Fleece, which is 80%cotton,20% wool. Also Rowan magazines routinely have some fair-isle or intarsia patterns knitted with their cotton and cotton-blend yarns. Two points worth noting:

a. cotton is heavier weight than wool. A stranded colorwork garment in cotton will be pleasant to wear but will be a more substantial weight than, say, a shetland sweater.

b. personally I find it easier to combine colors of wool because the tones are more muted, sometimes even heathery, which helps soften the contrast between colors. With cotton the colors are brighter and "pop out" more next to each other. But it can look wonderful.

Laura
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sarakate
Seriously Hooked

USA
818 Posts

Posted - 03/29/2006 :  12:38:40 PM  Show Profile Send sarakate a Private Message
There's no problem with doing colorwork in cotton, per se. However, there are a couple of specific considerations that are different for cotton than for wool, which may apply to the particular designs you're considering, where traits of wool that do not exist in cotton may have been exploited. Namely, wool felts. This is often exploited in colorwork sweater design, and I am specifically thinking of some of EZ's work, in a couple of ways: first, long floats tend to adhere themselves fairly swiftly to the back of the work they're stranded behind, which means that if you're careful for the first couple of wearings, you can tolerate significantly longer floats than you can in cotton or other non-felting fiber; second, steeks are tricker in cotton than in wool, and require much more rigorous securing, probably mandating machine sewing. These two considerations, depending on which designs you're looking at, might mandate some minor changes, and would certainly be something you'd want to think about the impact of.
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nanetteb
Chatty Knitter

220 Posts

Posted - 03/29/2006 :  6:02:26 PM  Show Profile Send nanetteb a Private Message
I live in a warmer climate as well but I prefer wool for stranded colorwork. Wool is nice and elastic which really helps if there are any tension problems with a color pattern and wool blocks so nicely. If you use a non-wool check it first to see how stretchy it is and maybe block a swatch first using a color pattern to see what your tension looks like. You should also be cautious about the slipperiness of the yarn. I once made a Dale baby sweater with about 20 colors in a slippery superwash wool. I test-washed it first and many of the yarn ends worked their way loose in the wash. I reverse duplicate stitch yarn ends for 4-5 stitches which holds like iron with most sticky yarns but not for this project.

I prefer Norwegian knits to Fair Isle knitted patterns but what I do is always make cardigans. Then I wear the cardigans as coats in winter. For smaller items like socks I just make lace wool socks for summer.


Nanette
http://knittingincolor.blogspot.com
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elkymama
Seriously Hooked

USA
688 Posts

Posted - 03/29/2006 :  6:11:24 PM  Show Profile Send elkymama a Private Message
IMHO, wool sweaters stay looking nice longer than cotton ones do. Also, wool yarn tends to hold its shape better than cotton. For these reasons, I'd choose wool over cotton, especially for a pattern that takes lots of time and effort. Who wants to spend all that time knitting and then the sweater looks like a rag after its been washed a couple of times.

You're right about people rarely wearing wool in the South. When I moved to the South 15 years ago, I wound up giving most of my wool sweaters to Goodwill. Still, I like wool for jackets and cardigans, scarves and socks. A sweater made in fingering weight yarn would be nice too.

"You can be patriotic and still believe some things cost more than they're worth."
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Mamaknits
New Pal

USA
9 Posts

Posted - 03/30/2006 :  08:53:57 AM  Show Profile Send Mamaknits a Private Message
My dear knitting friends, THANK YOU for the thoughtful responses to my question! Many, many good points were made and I LOVED the photos.

I think I will start with a vest from Swensen's book with wool & see how I do. I'm also interested to see how it wears and how I fair with the charting. I dug out a Mission Falls backpack pattern that I will try with cotton to get a sense of how it performs. That project is certainly smaller & less technically intense. It will probably also look better with the vibrant cotton colors.

I learned so much from this thread. Thanks again for taking the time to respond! Mary
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