Sunday, September 25, 2016

More ropes

My priest will be in need of a replacement green cincture soon, so I've been playing a bit more with crochet ropes. I've determined that I just need to find the nylon yarn in green, but learned a few things along the way.

The first thing I found is that linen is horrible for this application. 

It was tiny for starters. This is a three ply linen thread. It didn't seem that much lighter weight than the nylon but I guess it is. I have comparison shots further down so you can see what I mean. 

I had a lot of difficulty seeing the stitches. I don't think it was just because of size. It was just more difficult to work with somehow.

Then no matter what I did, it was coming out very uneven. The spiral was obscured and lumpy. 

Since it was a mess that I knew I'd be tossing anyway, I decided to try throwing in a gold thread to see how that turned out. It came out as a jumbled mess.

Here's another photo showing the uneven diameter. And with more length you can see how disorganized the way the gold pattern is. 

I would have had a segment without the gold to show you, but my cat ate it. I didn't think about the cat tree being right next to the craft shelf, and Mr. Nibbles being able to reach a couple of the shelves. Not his official name btw, but he earned this title early on in life by eating all the shoelaces in the house, as well as chewing some holes in a few shirts. Apparently I can add linen to his list of edible fabrics.

Next I tried a bulkier thread. I knew at this point I'd have to buy something in the right color and wanted to know what my options were. Let's just say chunky yarn is chunky and made quite a fat rope.

This rope is about as thick as a thumb.

It has a beautiful spiral further on. I thought I'd show the beginning though just to give some confidence to anyone out there attempting this and feeling like they're making a mess.

I haven't quite gotten the knack of knowing right off where to place the stitches after the second row. Once the spiral forms it is easy to aim for the horizontal stitch in-between ribs. But how do you get to that point?

I just pick randomly until it works. Just round and round putting a stitch somewhere, trying my best to pick the same one each time. At some point it becomes obvious and off it goes. For cinctures, the end bit will be covered with a tassel anyway. For any application you can just cut the end off. It feels bad to spend so long making something you'll throw out but I find it so much calmer than stitching, unstitching, and trying again. 

I have a nice green yarn which is a bamboo viscose and silk blend. It's a pea green so it doesn't match my pastor's vestments, but some priest might like it. So I decided to try it.
I like the sheen of the yarn, and though fuzzier than the nylon it has a nice even spiral, unlike the linen.

When grabbing this off the shelf I discovered that I had already attempted this yarn in the white version I also have. The white still had the hook I was using on it which is 2.1mm. The green here has a 3.5mm hook.

It surprised me that the diameter of the ropes were different. I had switched hooks when making the white nylon rope and there was no change. Perhaps it's the bulk of the yarn?

I liked the look of the white better. The brand and weight of the yarn was the same so the only difference was the hook. So I switched and sure enough, the green rope tightened up. The yellow yarn is a stitch marker showing when I switched. 

You'll be able to see in the comparison photo that the green gets even smaller a little further on. This is because with this loose thread I was having a lot of difficulty with the hook going through the plys of the yarn.

I found by pulling the loose thread tight against the hook as I stitched, and pulling up with the hook against the loops I was passing through helped a lot and I split the yarn much less often. 

Part of why I really like these ropes, and am able to do them when I fail miserably at other crochet projects is because it is not sensitive to tension. Apparently there is some difference so I have to pay attention to that but it's not too drastic. But definitely stick to the same hook size with the bulkier yarns!

I wanted to be able to add in gold while stitching rather than having it be another step. Here is a crochet thread (size 10 I think?) integrated in. I just stitched with two strands at a time rather that the one. I didn't realize this thread had been cut off then wound back around the spool. I would have made a longer test area if it was continuous. But I think this is long enough to see that it's a bit more regular than the gold in the line above.

It is still pretty bold though and detracts from the pattern of the spiral imo. Thinking that maybe the thread idea was only bad because the linen itself was bad, I tried it again. 

I've made this large and you could open it in a separate window and zoom in more. I feel it's a good weight pattern-wise. It catches the light so it's plenty visible in person, but subtle so as not to override the stitch pattern. (If you look closer, the gold is present in the thickness comparison photo above.) It still lays somewhat randomly but not as bad as in the linen. And you'd have to get up close to analyze the pattern in order to be bothered by the randomness. In the linen it screams disorder from across the room. 

Here are some comparisons of the size. The top photo is taken more or less straight on so you're seeing the larger ropes over the smaller ones. 

I was being sloppy with the plain white stitches just to see what kind of speed I could get. It seemed to affect the spacing between the ribs of the spiral but not really change the diameter.

What really perplexes me is that the green is still fatter after switching to the same sized hook as made the white. So, same weight of yarn, same brand of yarn, same hook size, same crafter, different diameters. I don't get it. Maybe the looser style caused a skinnier rope? It makes some sense since the same length of yarn is spread over a longer length of rope. I guess another thing to watch for. The nylon did seem much less sensitive to all this, as did the red cotton. Perhaps because those two yarns have much less squish so a tight versus loose stitch simply can't affect the outcome as much. 

It's funny because I use that squish in weaving to keep the width even more easily. Working in crochet thread is much more difficult to me (at least to get started) than a worsted weight. The opposite is true with the crochet. Maybe that's why I've failed so completely at crochet in the past?

Anyway, this concludes this installment of fun with ropes. For reference, the white and gold nylon is the roughly the same diameter as the common commercially made cinctures with gold. Possibly the same as the ones without the gold but my priest doesn't have those so I'm going off a 15 year old memory from altar serving in high school. If you don't know which cinctures I'm talking about, I might just have to take a picture of one of the ones at my parish. For some reason they are nearly impossible to find online.

Happy crafting!