Thursday, 11 September 2008

Wool and Cotton

Up to now I mainly did my patterns in wool, or wool mixes. I wouldn’t prefer to use the mixes in projects, but for knitting the swatches I admit I rely on cheaper yarns.
I’ve done some in cotton as well now, and wish to mention the different effects you get. Compare the swatches in the picture above. The two to the left were knitted with a wool mix, the right one is pure cotton.

Whilst both show irregularities in the small parts of the patterns, this is much more noticeable in the cotton swatches. I suppose this has to do with the fact that cotton is much less elastic than wool. To me it seems that the interaction with neighbouring stitches and rows does not go as far as it does with wool. I also find that with cotton the yarn itself shows more and doesn’t blend in that well with the pattern as wool does. Roxana Bartlett in her book Slip-Stitch Knitting says that cotton yarns have no halo to soften shapes.

So in choosing yarn for these patterns this has to be kept in mind. Wool is probably easier for a start. The geometry of the pattern is more apparent with it. The irregularities coming with cotton on the other hand give the fabric a more lively appearance. If we think of the elements that constitute patterns in nature, we notice how each individual element is different from the others.
In knitting it all depends on what one intends to achieve.

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