22 April 2007

Calmer vs. Elastico...

Some info about my recent geeky quest to finding a cheaper substitute for the Rowan Calmer called for in the Morrigan pattern (from No Sheep For You - highly recommended). I had come across Lana Grossa Elastico - like the Calmer, 50g = 160 m. The results from my tension sample tests are in...(pardon the stripes from my balcony railing - my camera works better in natural light). The tangerine colour is the Calmer, the yellow the Elastico. All samples were knitted on bamboo circular needles. The tension sample is taken from Chart R3 of the Morrigan pattern from No Sheep for You - meant to yield a 4" swatch from 40 sts. and 44 rows.

1. Comparison

The two adjacent samples were knitted on 3.25mm as the pattern calls for. The smaller sample on the top was knitted on 3mm needles.

2. Calmer

This tension sample worked out just about right - 4" x 4" approx.

3. Elastico - 3.25mm

When knitted on the same size as the Calmer, this sample worked out to a touch over the right width (4.2" approx) but quite a bit too long (at over 4.5")...

4. Elastico - 3mm

... so I tried the Elastico again using the next size down of needles. I got lazy, though, and only finished 1/2 the sample (the row length is 22 rows instead of 44). Results still not 100% - width right this time at 4" but length still too long (at 2.25" approx for 1/2 the sample).

You may also notice that the Calmer has knitted more evenly than the Elastico. No doubt part of this is due to my own (lack of) skill :-). However, the difference in quality is quite pronounced in my samples. If anything, the Elastico sample closest to the appropriate tension is the most uneven.

So, for myself, I think I would have to stick with the Calmer. A surer cable knitter than myself might have some luck with the Elastico, though.

A note about the relative characteristics of the yarns: the Calmer was quite a bit "thicker" (read: fluffier) to the feel than the Elastico and also had quite a bit more stretch. I liked working with both equally but they were quite different.

Another note: I felt quite clever with myself by managing to knit part of these samples without using a cable needle! (I did the Calmer sample half and half, and can't tell the difference between the two parts myself. For the technique, see the new book Cables Untangled by Melissa Leapman).