STILL WASTING TIME

I’m still sweeping out mental cobwebs, occupying my fingers with
interim quickie projects. Saturday’s was another pair of booties, in
the bootie pattern I’ve blogged about before:

This
pair is in lime green Dale Baby Ull, and the leftover of some tweed
sock yarn long since separated from its label of origin. It just takes
a couple of yards to do one of the purl welts. I’ve worked them in
contrast (as shown here), even working each welt in a different color
yarn. Sometimes I do the ties in the same color as the contrast,
sometimes not. It all depends on how much I’ve got. This is why I never
throw away sock yarn leftovers. The smallest bit is enough to accent a
pair of these booties.

I’m still repacking my stash after our
near escape from a basement flood. In doing so I’m running across all
sorts of goodies I had forgotten about. In the same box as my
Kureopatora leftovers, I found about seven or eight balls of Harvey. Lang Harvey
was a wool blend salad with a boucl? finish – 40% wool, 32% acrylic,
15% polyamide nylon, 10% alpaca, and 3% viscose. I’m pretty sure I
scavenged it from a bargain bin at a (long gone) yarn shop I used to
frequent in College Park, Maryland. And I’m also pretty sure that I
bought it circa 1990 or so. Possibly earlier, so the chance of anyone finding more outside their own stash is slim to none. The original intent was
to make a vest, but although I liked the yarn I didn’t like the way it
worked with my chosen pattern, so I stashed it.

What’s boucl?
you ask? It’s a style of yarn that has fallen out of favor. You don’t
see that many of them around any more, the textured yarn niche having
been consumed entirely by the fluttery fur monster.

Boucl?s have an
airy hand. If you think of classic finish multi-strand yarns
(like Cascade 220) as dense cream cheese, boucl?s would be the whipped
variety. Unlike chenille where the fluffiness is made by little
strands that are bound by some kind of "keeper thread," boucl?s have no
fuzz to come unbound. The yarn’s structure is of one or more
two-ply strands. One ply is relatively taught, usually a very
fine nylon thread. The other ply is looser spun, almost slubby,
and is under far less tension. The looser strand is sort of
gathered and lumped around the nylon base thread, resulting in
something that has more loft and that has higher yardage per unit
weight.

Here’s Harvey:

Harvey has two two-ply strands. You can see how nubbly and slubby
it looks. While it reminds me in color and visual appearance of
the iron-upholstered sofa in my grandmother’s apartment (the one that
would sand your thighs off if you sat on it while wearing a skirt in
the summer), it is in fact an exceptionally luxurious feeling, soft and easy to wear yarn.

Some boucl?s are even more fluffy or bumpy than this. Some
have a loopy construction (I’m not sure at what exact point something
stops being a boucl? and becomes – for example – a mohair loop, but I’m
sure one of the spinning folk who read here will enlighten
us.)?? My Harvey is marked at worsted gauge (20 st x 34 rows
= 4 inches or 10cm) . It’s about 126 meters or about 138
yards. A classic worsted like Cascade 220 is about 110 yards for
50 grams. Even taking the fiber salad composition of Harvey into
consideration, 28 yards in 50 grams is a major difference in
yardage.

Now. How does Harvey knit up??

The first time I tried it out I was disappointed, but I had picked a
pattern for which it wasn’t suited at all. I tried it out using a
knit/purl texture pattern that was totally eaten by the yarn’s
texture and dark color. While it isn’t optimal for showing detail
on something like my Kombu, I thought it might be fun to try out in
that pattern:

Again, the ribbed detail is partially obscured, although it shows up
better in person than it does in a photo. But the softness and
drape can’t be topped. I’ll be finishing out my Harvey Kombu and
stowing it for the upcoming gift season. I’ll probably have
enough to do a matching hat, too.

Oh, and for an exceptional Kombu that really shows off the pattern’s
texture better than my own attempts at both knitting and photography
(and not to mention her superior execution of the idea) check out Kerstin’s Strickforum. Beautiful!

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