Tuesday, April 19, 2016

TPCT: Selecting Yarn + Yarn Substitutions

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TPCT's yarn info is deliberately focussed on gauge and yardage:

Yarn Any that is approximately a heavy fingering weight that will give you the proper gauge, preferred fibre content is 50%+ wool, approx 122 (195, 205, 222, 236) 256, 274, 296, 312 grams

Needles 3.25 mm (US 3) circulars (approx 16” / 40 cm length) and 3.25 mm (US 3) dpns or size to obtain gauge

Gauge 24 sts and 28 rows = 4” / 10 cm in stockinette To ensure the best fit, please check your gauge

I wanted knitters to be able to easily dive into their stash and grab gauge-matching leftovers. Because this is a smaller-than-normal sweater, you'll be using much less yarn than you're used to for a garment, making TPCT a good option for an economical knitter!

But you might be wondering: a crop top in WOOL?

Let's talk a bit about different fibre options and what they can do for your TPCT.

The first TPCT I knit was in a nice, sturdy 100% wool. The characteristics of this fibre are:
  • great elasticity; will hold its shape well and the ribbing will be tidy and remain so 
  • keeping you warm; wool is great at retaining warmth
  • stitch definition; the particular yarn I picked shows the kfb increases across the yoke very clearly
 A wool crop top is a great option; there's a wide selection of yarn in this gauge and fibre. It'll be easy to find really fun yarns/colours and will open many options for you.
We'll talk in more depth about styling your TPCT tomorrow, but a quick FYI: crop tops CAN be a season-crossing garment. They are great for layering under or over other clothing. As you can see in this photo, I'm wearing this crop top over one of my favourite dresses.


Yes, I did knit a TPCT in cashmere. This was a precious skein I had in the deep stash for years. I love this TPCT because the cashmere makes it feel soooo nice, but there are certain ramifications to picking a yarn with a fibre base (either 100% or a blend) like this:
  • cashmere will feel reaaaally good next to your skin
  • it makes for a very lightweight TPCT
  • this fibre is NOT good with elasticisty: take a look at the photo and you'll see that the ribbing is not tidy and snug against my body, and the stitch definition isn't great either
All those things don't make this a bad option, just a different one. As long as you're alright with the stretching that will happen with a non-elastic fibre like cashmere, then it makes for a great TPCT!

This TPCT, as you see, saw me have a LOT of fun with stash remnants. All of these were of varying fibre content, but the MC white colour is a 100% angora. You can see that it behaves a bit different from the other TPCT fibre blends on this post:
  • the angora, like the cashmere, isn't great with elastic memory. That means the ribbing ends up being more decorative than function ie: after a few wears, it began to hover out, away from my body
  • it has a verrrry pretty halo; it creates a nice textural effect
  • it's WARM; I wore this TPCT all through the winter, and to be honest, I'm not sure I can imagine wearing a full length angora sweater even in the deepest winter! It would just be too hot!
 Another thing this particular TPCT sample is great for is showing you how you can combine stash yarns of different fibre bases AS LONG AS they give you the same gauge. I'd still suggest being cognizant of the characteristics and behaviours of the fibres you're combining. See  Clara Parkes' The Knitter's Book of Yarn for a thorough fibre run down.

The photo you see here is a bit of a blend of yarns and fibres. The white yarn MC is a silk/wool combo. Making a TPCT in this fibre mix has shown me:
  • silk has a nice drape; a silk/silk blend yarn will wrap around your body differently than a straight up wool yarn. Note how the outline of my undergarment is visible with this silk blend yarn
  • silk has a lovely sheen; I'm not sure how well you can see that in this pic, but the yarn almost shines, it's lovely
  • if there's a lot of silk in your yarn, it will affect the elastic memory of your TPCT (which means it might stretch out and the ribbing will eventually stop sitting super close to your body)
  • silk will also be a lighter-weight option (both literally and thermally!); silk will keep you cooler than an animal-based fibre
 Again, all these things don't make silk or a silk blend a bad option for a TPCT, just a different one! You might want some of these characteristics in your TPCT. Don't let the fibre content dissuade you.

I have not knit a cotton or cotton blend version of TPCT, but that doesn't mean that you can't! Some characteristics of cotton to keep in mind:
  • this fibre isn't great at elastic memory; that means it will stretch out after use (kind of like a pair of jeans). There exists out there on the internet certain options and suggestions for snapping the cotton back to its original shape. I have not tested these. If you are relying on this, I'd suggest making a gauge swatch and treating it the same way you'd treat your TPCT to see how it'll behave.
  • cotton is great for warm weather
  • maybe look for a cotton and elastic blend yarn; that'll give you the best of both worlds

Cotton will give you a really great warm weather TPCT, as long as you're cool with its lack of elastic memory. I'd heavily suggest testing your cotton by making a gauge swatch (including ribbing). Measure it. Toss it in your bag and carry it around for a few days. See what happens! It may stretch out, and that might be exactly what you're looking for!

Have other questions about different fibres? Please ask away! I do recommend going to the fantastic source that is Clara Parkes' The Knitter's Book of Yarn. It'll give you great insight into the behaviour of fibre, and allow you to make an informed choice about your yarn for TPCT, and all other fibre options in your knitting future!


Meredith MC said...

I knit a summer T with the newer cotton linen blend called Zooey. It has great texture and a pretty sheen and I think it would make an interesting tpct, but swatching would be imperative. with cottons or linens, you might even hang the swatch with some weight on it to see what will happen. I knew my T would grow, so I altered the pattern to account for that.
I think I'm going to knit my tpct in a wool silk blend. Best of the breathable and elastic worlds.

Teresa said...

I agree! A wool silk blend would be beautiful!