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the Denim Saga [part 5] – Real-time Shrinkage in Denim Yarn

I’ve always been drawn to those knitting techniques that are dangerous.

You know the ones – the ones where you cut the fabric to divide it (Steeking) or treat wool in the way opposite of normal to get a thicker, firmer fabric (like Felting).

Working with this denim yarn was right down that dangerous alley and I am game!

To achieve its optimum characteristic, towards the end of the project, the maker has to just jump off the cliff, jettison all common sense and deliberately torture the work. (All with no guarantees…)

At this point, I’m 1/3 done with the second sleeve of my indigo Cerisara Den-M-Nit cardi. It is looking long and lanky and a little flopsie and untidy. Even though I switched to bamboo needles early on, its fabric just doesn’t have the integrity and cohesive feel you normally would find on something you’re working the correct gauge on.

But just as I was starting to lose faith (which at this point in the project is rather ridiculous because I know I just won’t walk away), I remembered something.

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I had a big swatch I could torture and if successful, go forth to the finish line and “knit on, with confidence and hope, etc…” YAY!

When I switched to bamboo needles and yes, started over from the beginning, the garment was well on its way: the upper Back and Left Front and its Neckband were done. On its longest edges, it was a whooping 18×13 inches of idle loveliness. (For some reason, I could not bear to frog it!)

Now it was just begging for those final denim yarn game steps to prove to myself I could do it, I could master this Indigo Challenge!

So I processed it just like I planned on shrinking the cardi itself. I washed it in my top-loading machine with some old towels and dried it in the dryer.

And what to my wondrous eyes should appear?

Working with Den-M-Nit Yarn

A rousing SUCCESS!

Now, instead of a wiggly, slightly sloppy feeling piece, it had morphed into a firm and symmetric and LOVELY testament that the someone who invented this wonderful stuff Indeed Knew What They were Talking About!

Most fascintating and joyful of all?


Working with Den-M-Nit Yarn

This was the thing I was most skeptical about – I just didn’t believe it was going to look like the promotional shots in all the marketing.

But indeed – it is softer (still dark) and variegated and full of beautiful depth.

Now I’m ready to finish that Last Sleeve with a bang!

…to be continued…

The Denim Saga
[part 1] – About that Yarn
[part 2] – The Sweater Awakens
[part 3] – Knitting with Indigo Denim Yarn
[part 4] – Picking Up Stitches using Denim Yarn
[part 5] – Real-time Shrinkage in Denim Yarn

the Denim Saga [part 4] – Picking Up Stitches using Denim Yarn

Like many of the knitters I know, I have a dedicated bag that goes with me almost anytime I leave the house. I LOVE to knit in public.

Newest addition to it? Besides the current indigo WIP, along comes that apron I wrote about in the last post so my clothes stay neat and blue-free. I’ve been taking it all everywhere and getting lots done.

Captain Den-M-Knit approves! (Love love love this label!)

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But why is the Captain sporting that little Mona Lisa grin?

Methinks he agrees that knitting with indigo yarn is FUN but maybe also that knitting in public at a place with dangerous treats is just redonkulous (even with an apron!).

To wit, witness this scene at my local coffee house

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This is me not being able to resist a fabulous treat at the counter then faced with the messy reality at the table. But, OH, the sacrifices one must make for their knitting!

But I digress…

My Cerisara WIP is finally starting to look like a cardi! After another seven inches of body knitting, I cast off and am now onto the first sleeve.

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Picking Up Stitches Using Indigo Yarn
Before I could get going with the sleeve knitting, I realized there was going to be a challenging step I had not considered when I started this sweater.

The Cerisara pattern is part of what I call Chic Knits’ the Sweater Organic™ series.

These sweaters all have something in common: they are seamlessly grown while knitting. All begin with an initial piece, then progressive sections are added by picking up stitches on the original section.

[[[You can see Chic Knits The Sweater Organic Bundle here.]]]

For my indigo Cerisara, the next section added, after the Body is finished, is a sleeve and it is started by picking up stitches around the armhole, then working down to the cuff, in-the-round.

However, if you recall, in compensating for the shrinkage factor of the denim yarn, I added extra length to the armhole, which now throws off the pick up ratio given by the pattern (3 sts picked up for every 4 rows worked).

How to adjust? Not too hard actually – the same principles of the initial calculation when I wrote the pattern would work here as well.

How to Determine a Pick-Up Ratio While Adding Stitches to Rows Worked
• Take number of Rows worked
• Determine number of Stitches needed
• Divide Stitches by Rows

In this case, on the first side, the armhole measured in rows to shoulder = 64 rows.

Stitches needed: 41

SO: 41 / 64 = 0.64 which is approximately 0.66 OR 2/3

(You can visually round out the above numbers to 4/6 pretty quickly which gives the same result).

Now, since this doesn’t produce the exact number of stitches the pattern calls for, some adjustment would probably (and was) necessary on the first row worked after the pick-up row.

But this was simple – in most of my Sweater Organic patterns, the first row worked is a purl row (or mostly purls) and it’s easy to p2tog (or add a stitch) as needed to achieve the needed overall beginning count.


Now that I had the proper stitch count, I could get going on those sleeves.

But wait just a minute please. What about all that Sleeve Shaping in the near future?~!

THAT would be the most challenging part of the equation yet…

Coming Up in [part 5]: Working the Long Game, Sleeve Style

…to be continued…

The Denim Saga
[part 1] – About that Yarn
[part 2] – The Sweater Awakens
[part 3] – Knitting with Indigo Denim Yarn
[part 4] – Picking Up Stitches using Denim Yarn
[part 5] – Real-time Shrinkage in Denim Yarn

the Denim Saga [part 3] – Knitting with Indigo Yarn

Lots of progress being made here on the Den-M-Nit front! It’s been spring showering and I’ve been happily knitting away on my Cerisara indigo cardi. It was time for another flower portrait – this time in the back yard by the Clematis montana ‘Fragrant Spring’ which is actually done flowering so I added in a few Senetti bi-color blooms to spice it up…

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Notice the sweater is looking rather long and lanky here – especially the armholes. Am I panicking? Well, I have to admit, now that there’s some serious fabric at play, I’m a little more anxious than when it was just the back section.

This is one of those love/hate times in knitting: it’s something you might not have tried before and even though you’re following directions and have seen with Your Own Eyes other folks’ successes, it just looks Weird.

But somehow, it just Feels Right!

I’m a deep veteran of felting and this has most of the hallmarks of that type of technique. Just like this one, you have to Boldly Go and just trust that the end of the road IS your destination.

Exciting! (But still a little scary).

What’s surprisingly not as scary as I thought it would be?

The Effect of Knitting with Indigo Yarn
When I started this project, I went out and bought an apron. I was convinced I would be covered in saturated blue every time I picked up the needles. The only one the store had was black so I got it – even though I wanted a white one because I wanted to see, from the beginning to end, just how much of a mess using this type of surface-dyed yarn is.

Well, it’s not showing up on that dark apron but check this out.

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This is taken after an hour or so of knitting at my knit group – it sort of looks like I’ve dipped my digits in an olde ink pot! :)

But just a little soap and warm water and everything comes off nicely.

There IS a permanent situation, though.

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If you recall from [part 2], I switched from working with nickel needles to bamboo and they have become quite colorful!

The needle you see in the middle is permanently colored now – but it’s rather beautiful don’t you think?! Not sure I’d use it on a light colored yarn – but maybe there’s some more indigo yarn knitting in my future. I still have two cones left! :)

Coming Up in part 4: Picking up stitches using Denim Yarn

…to be continued…

The Denim Saga
[part 1] – About that Yarn
[part 2] – The Sweater Awakens
[part 3] – Knitting with Indigo Denim Yarn
[part 4] – Picking Up Stitches using Denim Yarn
[part 5] – Real-time Shrinkage in Denim Yarn

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