Fun with lace samplers

We just added the new lace samplers to the web site, and I just love them! Tina did a great job picking out the colors for these. I had to make desktop wallpaper out of the photos right away to celebrate.

When I first saw the samplers, I immediately wanted one (okay, more than one), but then I thought, “what on earth am I going to do with six hanks of lace?” After all, I don’t wear shawls, and I can’t wear wool or alpaca against my neck because of the itch factor (even super soft Merino and Baby Alpaca–boo). Then I remembered an article I read in a past Interweave Knits about double stranding yarn to make slow color changes. These samplers are perfect because the colors are in the same families and not too contrasting. Never having tried this technique before, I had to test it out for myself.

The way it works is that you take multiple strands of different colors and switch out the strands one at a time. I decided to use the Sunset Picnic sampler and choose four of the colors to double strand. I figured double stranding lace would get me something close to sock weight and, sure enough, I got 8 stitches to the inch on #1s. You could also triple strand the yarn for a thicker weight and even more subtle color changes. (Funny enough, just days after I did this, I noticed a scarf by Eunny Jang in the Interweave Knits summer preview that looks like it uses this exact technique.)

The colors I chose are:
A = Alpaca Cloud Papaya Heather
B = Shadow Hot Rod Heather
C = Shadow Sunset Heather
D = Gloss Lace Chipotle

At the right you can see a close up of my scanned swatch. The letters indicate which yarns I’m double stranding. I changed strands every 5 rows. As you can see, I chose two of the yarns to be my “main” colors (A & C) and the other two to just be transition colors (B & D). I love how it turned out.

This next image is a Photoshopped file to show two repeats as they would look in a sock. Pretty cool, huh? I was a little skeptical that the double stranded yarn would be pleasant to knit, but I found that it didn’t bother me at all. The lace is thin enough that it twists together a bit and feels just like a loosely plied slightly splitty yarn. Using this technique, there’s enough yarn to make 2 pairs of socks according to my calculations. Or you could make a Bohus-style yoked sweater, or legwarmers, or gloves…the possibilities are endless! <