Tuesday, April 19, 2011
CHRISTMAS IN APRIL
Fall is always such a crazy time because I am frantically knitting Christmas stockings for people who want their children or grandchildren to have one (this process is described in a previous post HERE). When our local yarn shop owner asked me to make a stocking or two to sell in the shop (Knit of Charleston SC), I just laughed. But now that we are well into spring, I can stand the sight of red, white, and green again. It's time to make some stockings for the shop, now that I can make them at my leisure.
I chose a pattern of my own design, the Chrismas argyle. I have to confess that while my children were small I was a bit of a scrooge about promoting the Santa myth, and I refused to make stockings (at least for my own family) with Santas on them (HOW could I LIE to my CHILDREN????). Hence the argyle design. I also used evergreen, snowflake, and poinsettia patterns. Now that the kids are nearly grown my views have perhaps softened a bit.
Most Christmas stockings, including the argyle patterns, are made using the intarsia technique (for a tutorial video click HERE). By this I mean that the stocking is made flat, and later seamed up. Each patch of color in the section is knitted with its own separate yarn, and the other colors are not carried across the row. If you have five patches of color (the argyle diamond shapes) across the row, then you have five strands of yarn connected to those shapes. This inevitably results in some very big tangles! Try as I might to avoid it, I generally have to stop to untangle yarn about every 6-8 rows.
The other technique for color knitting is called fair isle (for a tutorial video click HERE). In this method two colors are carried together around, and the unused color is carried (stranded) behind the work. This double thickness of yarn adds to the warmth of the final garment. Shown at right is a lovely Christmas stocking knitted with this method. While fair isle is definitely less tangly, there are also some significant disadvantages. Of course no one needs a Christmas stocking to be warm, and a lot of yarn gets wasted on the inside. I discovered though that the worst feature of a stranded stocking is that when you are trying to cram gifts into it, or children are pulling them out, the little corners and bits of tape get caught on those strands and snag, frustrate the impatient children, distort the fabric, and eventually make holes!
The stocking I am making for the shop will look very much like these at left, which my sister commissioned me to make for her family. The tangles will be tamed, and the inside of the stocking will be smooth and flat, so some lucky child in the future can whip those goodies out with cheerful abandon!