Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Possible Fifi Yarn Subs?

I'm thinking about using Elann Esprit or Cascade Fixation as an affordable alternative to Calmer for Fifi. The (stretched) yardage (186 yards) is nearly identical to the Rowan Calmer yardage (175) per 50 gram ball and the gauge is 24/25 stitches per 4" on size 7 needles which is about one stitch per inch off, but knitting up a size or two might accommodate for this difference. For those of you who don't know, Elann Esprit is almost identical to Cascade Fixation (for about half the price) which is frequently used to knit super stretchy socks but is considered a sport weight yarn. Check out this close-up of a sweater pattern made with the Esprit (on size 7 needles) on Elann's site. The fiber content of Esprit is 98.3% cotton and 1.7% elastic and it's very soft when knit up.

I knit up a swatch of the Esprit (getting 24 stitches per 4" on size 7 needles) because I was concerned about whether or not one would be able to see through the stitches when stretched (as this sweater is designed to do across the bust) and sure enough, when pulled slightly, you can see right through the stitches (hey, we're "sexy knitters" not "sleezy knitters"). Of course, I've noticed the Calmer doing this to some degree as well. You might be able to accommodate for the "see-through-ness" by (A) wearing a camisole the same color as your sweater, or (B) going down a needle size or two, but this would then put your gauge off by even more. On the other hand, this is a top down sweater that can be knit until you get the right size, so it might work as long as you're willing to work on the smaller needles. Kristeen would have to help us out on this one.

I then knit up a swatch of Cascade Fixation on size 7 needles and actually got 20 stitches per 4" which is the same as Calmer. I'm not sure why (when all the yarn weights and yardages are exactly the same on the labels) but the Cascade does appear to be slightly thicker than the Esprit.

When stretched, the Cascade also was somewhat see-through, but I'm really wondering if just about any yarn will do this to some degree unless knit on much smaller (than called for) needles.

Knitting with Esprit and/or Fixation is a little tricky due to the stretchiness, but once you get the hang of it, it's fine. Once again, I've heard the same things about Calmer. I tend to put just enough tension to pull about half the stretchiness out of it and this seems to give me good results. I figure I'm probably getting about 140 - 150 yards per skein by pulling some of the stretchiness (but not all) out of the yarn as I knit. Going with this assumption, one or two extra skeins of this yarn should make up for the yardage difference between the Fixation/Esprit and the Calmer.

The color selection for both the Esprit and the Fixation solids is fantastic and for $2.75 (for the Esprit) to $4.60 (for the Fixation) per ball, it might be worth trying as an alternative for Calmer.

Just a thought ;-)


robin said...

I had thought about Elann Esprit as a yarn sub for Calmer and it seems very similar to me. I know what you mean about the right amount of tension to put on these super-stretchy yarns. I've tried to loosen up a little on Calmer too. I say go for it!

Kozy Kitty said...

If you read Mary's description of her finished Fifi, she only used 3 1/2 skeins of the Calmer. I am 10 rows below the armhole join and I'm just a little into my second skein. I also found that my gauge in the sweater was way different then when I swatched. I swatched to the correct gauge but ended up getting 7 spi in the actual sweater. I found that the sweater was not see through when trying it on as Calmer has some loft to it.

Robin said...

That's good to know on the Calmer (about it not being see through) - I was worrying a little about that. I'm a round away from trying it on.

Maxmom said...

Similar to you, I'm using some Paton's Brilliant that I had in my stash. I measure 38" but at others suggestions I CO 120 on size 6. Made an error and took it off the needles and tried it on. Thought it was a bit too small so I started again with CO 140 - wish me luck.

mary_me_a_little said...

Elann Esprit looks like a nice sub for sure. I may have to try it for another project sometime--nice colors, too!

Susan said...

Can you explain the stretched versus relaxed yardage? How do you know which yardage you'll get? I think I'd like to try using the Elann yarn - I've ordered from them twice recently and my order always arrives really quickly. I want to make sure I get the correct amount, though.