More About the Yarns

Catherine Lowe Couture Yarns are unlike traditional hand-knitting yarns in two important aspects.

Ply

The first of these differences is immediately apparent. The separate plies that make up the individual strand of yarn are laid parallel to each other rather than plied or twisted together as they are in a traditional hand-knitting yarn. The reasons for this are several. All knitters, irrespective of the particular technique they use to hold yarn and form stitches, naturally twist the strand of yarn as they work the stitches to create a piece of knitted fabric. When knitting with a traditional hand-knitting yarn and depending upon the yarn’s structure, a knitter will either tighten or loosen the yarn’s original twist. The same is true when yarn is wound or re-wound from a skein or ball, or taken from a cone. The equipment used to re-wind the yarn—hand, ball-winder, nøstepinder—and the way the source of the yarn is handled—pulling from the outside or the center of a center-pull ball or skein, suspending a cone horizontally and allowing it to spin as the yarn is pulled from it or placing it vertically and keeping it stationary as the yarn is pulled off—will each affect the twist of the yarn differently, either exacerbating or releasing it. In every case, the diameter of the yarn as well as the angle of the twist are altered. Each of these aspects of yarn structure, its twist and the angle of the twist, has a critical influence on the gauge, the look and the hand of the knitted fabric. Stitch manipulation within a pattern—slipped stitches, twisted stitches, decreases, increases and even some cables—will further alter the diameter and twist of the yarn after it has been formed into a stitch. An element as essential to shaping a hand-knitted garment as a decrease worked in one direction at the beginning of a row and in the opposite direction at the end of the row will clearly manifest the consequences of altered twist:  in one instance the twist will be tightened and the decrease will appear firm and neat; in the other, it will be loosened and the decrease will appear open and seem to sit on the surface of the fabric rather than becoming a part of it. By eliminating the twist put into traditional hand-knitting yarn, parallel ply obviates these consequences, making it possible for all knitters to create, to the extent of their technical abilities, an evenly worked fabric with matching stitches, whether the stitches have been manipulated to the right or to the left and regardless of the particular technique used to hold the yarn and form the stitches.

Preparation

The second distinctive characteristic is apparent when a knitter takes one of these yarns in hand and begins to knit. Rather than stretching out and then springing back as the tension on the yarn is naturally increased and then released in the course of forming a stitch, the yarn maintains a constant and consistent length. Depending upon the fiber content, the yarns also lack to a greater or lesser degree the airy softness and often spongy feel of hand-knitting yarns; their characteristic look and feel is one more usually associated with thread. This is because the fiber in these yarns has been stabilized by the addition of a small bit of sizing; once the sizing is removed by washing the knitted fabric, the fiber will bloom and acquire the characteristic loft and softness of hand-knitting yarn. Since the stabilized yarn is less affected by changes in a knitter’s tension than a traditional hand-knitting yarn, it is easier for a knitter to produce an even and consistent stitch and, thus, a more even and consistent gauge and knitted fabric.

Working with the Yarns

Catherine Lowe Couture Yarns can easily be substituted in patterns not designed for them. A detailed brochure that explains both how to substitute the yarns and how to care for the finished garments accompanies each customer’s first order of yarn.

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