In the spirit of not mincing words, yesterday was diabolical.
It started off well enough. I had a productive meeting with my boss, and came home to finish Francis Revisited. It’s a lovely pattern, and I’ll definitely be knitting one of these for me! But this particular one is for a friend.
Then bad news struck: the job was cancelled. The Canterbury earthquake has affected all sorts of activities in New Zealand, and my job was one of them. It was a bit depressing to lose the first job I’d been able to find in months, even though I fully support and understand the rationale behind the stoppage.
It wasn’t so much about the money, as I understand I will get paid for the job anyway. But it just felt soooo good and fulfilling to be back in the land of productivity, teamwork and a form of self-reliance. Not to mention that it’s very healthy for one’s confidence and self-esteem levels.
No matter. The sweater got finished, and it was beautiful. I was so proud – it would fit my friend perfectly, and looked exactly how she wanted it. I gave it a quick soak in lukewarm water and put it in the machine for a short, gentle spin, like I always do with my finished projects.
When the cycle finished, I took the project out of the bag, and my blood ran cold. My beautiful Francis had felted. The alpaca fibres in the yarn had somehow managed to fluff out of the wool and grab on to each other, felting it. In a short, nine minute spin. It was fine when it went into the machine. I’d done this with other alpaca I’d knitted. I could not understand how this could have happened. I tugged and pulled at it in vain. Hot tears sprung up. What a ‘great’ way to end the day. Patons Jet, I will never knit with you again.
Here it is, being dried anyway. Although I felt like cutting it up into tiny little pieces last night.
My mind was in turmoil. Failure and frustration at every turn, I needed to calm down. I grabbed a couple of balls of Noro Silk Garden that I had been saving to knit for a little bit of a luxury treat. After a few rows, my breathing slowed and my heart wasn’t quite as ‘bumpity bumpity’. The pure beauty of the yarn, the texture and colours were soothing to the soul.
In fact, I started to have a little fun with it – I had a treasured ball of Iro in my collection too, and decided that as the colours looked identical, I’d make a textural piece:
I think this is going to be a lovely cowl. Except for the slight variation in texture, you can’t actually see I’ve used two different Noro yarns in this.
But back to my problem: How was I going to explain this to my friend? She’d paid over $100 for the yarn. And now, it was completely, and utterly ruined. Not to mention all the work and care I’d put into knitting it. This friend is not a knitter. I wasn’t sure how she’d take the news that $100 had just flushed down the toilet. Nor might she understand how a yarn could just felt in a heartbeat like that (neither can I, for that matter).
I’d gone to great trouble to select the yarn for her. It had to contain alpaca to match the qualities of the yarn used in the pattern so that the effect would be the same, and there isn’t a lot of worsted weight alpaca in New Zealand. I had not knitted a garment in Jet before, but one does not think that a mass-market yarn like Patons would be a bad punt. Needless to say, I dreamed about felted garments all night.
This morning, I went to see my LYS owner and cried on her shoulder. She has kindly offered to seek compensation from the manufacturer. I hope the money can be refunded.
In the meantime, I’ve decided to knit her another Francis in a safe yarn and show her the felted failure as an explanation of why I switched yarns. I’ve picked Naturally’s Naturelle 100% pure New Zealand wool in Aran 10 ply.
The tension is the same, and I know this one will not felt when treated to a short spin. It’s a close-enough match to the colour of the original yarn. There’s no alpaca in the yarn, but the way I’m feeling, I don’t think I want to risk it. Hopefully she’ll like it. And if she doesn’t, I’ll just have to gift it to someone else I guess. She’s a size smaller than me, so I won’t be able to wear it. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it!
If I had a real choice of yarn, I’d love to use Zealana’s Kauri in worsted weight. I had the lucky opportunity of seeing some of the worsted-weight (10 ply) up close recently, and now I fantasize about knitting a Francis in it. Available in a drool-worthy range of colours, it is snugly, drapey, light and warm – a knitter’s dream. It would be the perfect choice. But you can’t buy it in New Zealand because none of the yarn stores here stock that weight. Damn.