Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Knitting skirts

It seemed like a big step, to start knitting skirts. Not really sure why, because if you think about it, a knee length skirt doesn't involve that much more knitting mileage than a sweater. In fact, the techniques are often easier because there is less shaping involved and no fiddly sleeves, necklines, buttonholes, etc. In fact, knitting skirts turned out to be a cinch, which is why I've already made two, and plan to make more.

My first was a lace-edged hemp skirt. I noticed someone on Ravelry decided to do the pattern in cotton, to avoid "hippie confusion". I have to take issue with that statement. Hemp has nothing to do with hippies anymore. If it ever did. Besides which, when was the last time you saw a hippie? When I was in college the term was "granolas", which pretty much applied to anyone who wore patchouli, birkenstocks and thriftstore clothing and shopped in the local co-op or farmers market. Nowadays those people are running coffee shops, kitchen stores and organic farms, and we call them foodies. They buy hemp because it is a sustainable natural fibre, not because they smoke it.

Hemp has a greater tensile strength than cotton, which is why it is a better fibre for a knitted skirt - less sagging in the butt. On the spectrum between cotton and linen I would place it slightly closer to linen - not quite as crisp, but that means it wrinkles less. Unfortunately, it is even tougher to knit than cotton (whereas linen is usually pretty smooth and slippery). I was advised to soak my hemp skeins in advance in a little hair conditioner, but I'm too impatient for that. Instead I whined and moaned about the yarn and developed calluses on my fingers. But it was all worth it in the end, because my Lovely Leaf Lace Hemp Skirt turned out great.

Hemp skirt - not hippie at all

So I looked around for another pattern, and alighted on Lanesplitter, from Knitty, the free online knitting magazine. This pattern uses self-striping Noro Kureyon. Noro is a Japanese company that makes fantastic yarn, but the colours can be a bit extreme (or extravagent, as described by the company) and you can all too easily end up wearing clown barf (as described by others on Ravelry). It helps to tone it down with stripes, either with black or the same yarn started at a different section of the colour spectrum. It was a bit tricky to control the striping, and I had to cut out some of the black to avoid it predominating, but I really love the way it turned out.

Bright Lights skirt - named after the
beautiful swiss chard in our garden

I haven't decided on my next skirt pattern yet. Perhaps I should move onwards and upwards - to dresses!