Fiber Experiment and Fair Isle

Ever since I did the interview with knitwear designer Nikki Gabriel, I’ve been thinking about what she said: “Knitting is generally associated with wool.  As the book shows, there are 80 other fibers that can be knitted with.” This was such a fascinating thing to learn. Of course, I knew that the wool is not the only fiber out there, I always loved knitting with plant fibers, but the only ones I tried are cotton, linen and silk. But if to think about it there are so many more types of fiber and fiber blends. I decided I want to experiment more and see how other fibers work. Of course, it’s a comforting feeling to know how your wool sweater will behave, when you know exactly if the stitch pattern is going to work, if the garment is going to stretch. But it is equally amazing to break the pattern once in awhile and try something new.

I’ve had these skeins for almost two years now. I remember looking for the yarn on my last trip to Russia and I wanted to try something new. First thing that attracted me was the color. There is something so noble and classy about it.

Machine Knitting

Then I touched it and couldn’t let it go! I’ve never touched the fiber like that before, I looked at the label – it was 100% bamboo. I took them home, put them aside and forgot about them. It just didn’t feel familiar and I wasn’t quite sure what to make with it. As I mentioned before, I am taking part in 12MK16 MKAL (machine knit along) – 12 machine knitting projects in 2016. After finishing Ocean dress, I thought I had to cast on something else now to keep up with the MKAL. After rummaging in my stash I found these skeins and decided to give it a try.

Machine Knitting

I really wish the photos could convey yarn’s softness! The drape that is created by bamboo is inexplicable!!! After trying the first swatch, I realized I want to wrap myself in it from head to toe! This is the best fiber that I’ve ever tried to wear next to my skin! It has such a smooth and luxurious feel. Pima cotton that I tried was very soft, but nothing compared to it. I would even dare to say it is softer than silk, some compare it with the blend of silk and cashmere. I did a research before trying anything and this is what I found out (you can read the full article here – Properties of Bamboo Fiber):

  • Bamboo has much better moisture absorption and ventilation than cotton. Moisture absorbency is twice than that of cotton with extraordinary soil release.
  • Natural antibacterial elements in bamboo fibre keep bacteria away from bamboo fabrics.
  • Garment of bamboo fibre can absorb and evaporate human sweat in a split of second just like breathing. Such a garment makes people feel extremely cool, comfortable and never sticking to skin even in hot summer.
  •  100% bamboo yarns show a great elasticity i.e. nearly 20%. Even in 100% bamboo woven fabrics a remarkable elasticity can be obtained wherein the use of elastomeric fibres like elastanes may be eliminated.
  •  Bamboo fabrics need less dyestuff than cotton, modal or viscose. It seems that the absorption of dyestuffs is remarkably better. Bamboo absorbs the dyestuffs faster and shows the colors better.
  • Anti-ultraviolet nature of bamboo fibre has made it suitable for summer clothing, especially for the protection of pregnant ladies and children from the effect of ultraviolet radiation.
  • Product of bamboo fibre is eco-friendly and bio-degradable.

(Information source – www.fibre2fashion.com)

As you can see bamboo makes a perfect fiber for summer knitting! What swatch told me for sure is that the textured stitches are definitely not going to work in bamboo. Good old stockinette is the best way to go.

Machine Knitting

I am thinking of making a very loose oversize light sweater in simple stockinette, maybe with some lace at the neckline. I am not sure yet really, I will experiment and will share it with you here!

As for other projects I am more than half done with Green Snowflakes. I finally found my rhythm of fair isle knitting and it is going like a breeze. The fabric is till not perfectly smooth, but I hope good blocking will fix it. As I am knitting with slightly thicker than recommended yarn, my progress is much faster and I think I will need 6 pattern repeats instead of 9 to finish it.

Knitting Fair Isle

I find the wrong side of fair isle equally delicious!

Knitting Fair Isle

 I hope you are enjoying you craft projects! I am joining Yarn Along for some inspiration!


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35 Comments

  1. I have only ever knit with bamboo for a washcloth and I really liked the results. I use bamboo everyday, however, to cloth diaper my baby. His diapers are either bamboo or hemp and they work wonderfully! The absorption is amazing. I love your list of bamboo benefits! The sweater is going to be fantastic!

  2. While I love knitting with wool it isn’t a popular fiber here on the coast of SC as we only need it about 3 or 4 months out of the year and then only for part of the day. 🙁

    I do love bamboo, I have a cardigan I knit years ago that is a favorite.

    Your Green snowflakes is beautiful, but then everything you create is amazing!

    • Thank you, Tracey! I know what you mean about the wool. I also wear it only months a year. But I found so many great alternatives to wool! What I love most about plant fibers is that they don’t ball or pill and looked great even after a long time. How is your cardigan doing? Did it stretch? Or it kept its shape?

  3. I had no idea about all those properties of Bamboo! I have never knit with it, but next time I come across some Bamboo yarn I may give it a thought! However, I’m not a fan of “heavy” fibers and this seems to give a very drape-y fabric!

    • I am glad you are inspired to try it, Erika! Yes, bamboo creates a nice drape and it has to be taken into account when choosing the stitch pattern.

  4. I love Bamboo yarn. I have used it for quite a few baby hats in the past. Very luscious indeed. I have a hard time wrapping my head around how in the hek they get bamboo the plant turned into bamboo the yarn. A lot of processing, I guess.

  5. I have never knit with 100% bamboo before (only in blends), but that colour is lovely and the drape looks absolutely wonderful. I can see it making a nice top for summer or spring!

  6. I have always been a little wary of using bamboo for knitted garments, because of its ability to stretch. I thought it stretched out more than cotton. Have you found this to be the case? Do you knit it at a tighter gauge?

    • I also read that bamboo is prone to stretching. I haven’t made anything with it yet, so I can’t tell right now how bad it is. I knit at a pretty tight gauge, so we’ll see what happens after awhile!

  7. Oh Alina! Your stash is full of surprises!
    Why did you have to speak of soft yummy yarn?
    I just had a taste of merino and you’re talking about bamboo???? Where will I ever find bamboo????
    🙂 Just kidding! Enjoy your yarn. I’m sure you’ll turn it into something gorgeous.

  8. That’s so interesting about the bamboo!

    And I love your “wrong” side on your fair isle project as well… some designer should think about using the fair isle back side as a garment feature

    • I’ve seen some designers using the wrong side as a design element and I loved it! It creates such a beautiful slightly blurred effect!

  9. Your photos are always so wonderful! I love stopping by for the eye candy 🙂 Those grays are gorgeous.

    • Thank you so much, Melissa! It is so good to hear! I always feel like I overload the post with photos, but I just can’t help myself. I seriously don’t know what I love more – actual knitting or taking photos of it 🙂

  10. That yarn looks so pretty and I love the color. And your fair Isle is really lovely!!

  11. I’m wondering if there are various kinds of bamboo…like different weights and textures of wool? I’ve knit once with bamboo and found it extremely soft and drapey….almost too drapey for the kinds of projects I like, although the sweater you describe sounds perfect for this fiber. When I had a shop, we also carried bamboo sock yarn….(so it must have had some nylon spun with it???); it was extremely popular, but I never knit with it. (I am such an old old old dog….new tricks are real hard to come by for me!!!!!!!!) Really looking forward to hearing how you like it.

    • You had a shop?!! Wow! I didn’t know that! That is an interesting question about different kinds of bamboo… I’ll have to read about it!

  12. I used a bamboo merino combo that was just to die for! But definitely not a yarn for structured patterns. The drape is just too divine!

  13. You have really inspired me regarding the bamboo fibre, I actually desperately NEED to try it! I imagine it wouod be great for a toddler summer jumper…or maybe it is too drapey? That yarn is totally classy. Your snowflakes are beautiful too by the way, inside and out!

    • I am so happy you are inspired! It is always so much fun to experiment! I really can’t say what will work exactly in bamboo, as it is the first time I am working with it. But judging by the swatch, any garment made from it will have a great drape.

  14. I have knit several baby knits with bamboo but never anything bigger! I have the opposite problem too you and Tracey there would not be many days warm enough for me to wear something so cooling! I wear wool pretty much year round! The drape does look lovely and it is wonderfully soft 🙂

    Your fairisle looks amazing, such neat little stitches.

    • Thank you so much! It is so good to hear that my fair isle is working out. I think I am addicted to this technique right now! Enjoy your woollies!!

  15. I used to knit a lot and this post reminded me of a bitter past memory that I gifted a knitted scarf for my boyfriend, and he actually gave it back to me as I was going to break up with him! haha
    Good luck with your creation!!! <3

    xo from Seattle,
    AikA❤︎

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  16. I really love bamboo for dish cloths and I agree, the back of color work is just as beautiful.

  17. Ooh the wrong side is lovely, I agree! I love to knit with bamboo blends, 100% bamboo sounds interesting.

  18. That bamboo yarn looks lovely. I never really thought about knitting with it, although I try to buy bamboo socks when I can, so I should have a go at making something with the yarn! 🙂

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