Fiber Experiment and Fair Isle

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 –

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!



By | 2016-03-23T09:22:20+00:00 March 23rd, 2016|Knitting, Machine Knitting, Machine Knitting Challenge 2016, Yarn|35 Comments


  1. Ruby March 23, 2016 at 9:27 am - Reply

    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!

    • Alina March 23, 2016 at 10:15 am - Reply

      I am so looking forward to this sweater! As it gets pretty hot in summer here, I think I will wear it all the time!

  2. Tracey March 23, 2016 at 9:27 am - Reply

    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!

    • Alina March 23, 2016 at 10:17 am - Reply

      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. Erika March 23, 2016 at 10:32 am - Reply

    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!

    • Alina March 24, 2016 at 7:21 pm - Reply

      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. Andrea @ This Knitted Life March 23, 2016 at 11:09 am - Reply

    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.

    • Alina March 24, 2016 at 7:22 pm - Reply

      I am reading right now about the yarn making process, pretty fascinating!

  5. Kylie M-W March 23, 2016 at 12:14 pm - Reply

    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!

    • Alina March 24, 2016 at 7:23 pm - Reply

      I would love to try bamboo blends! I’ve seen it with cashmere, silk, cotton and merino. Will definitely try it some time!

  6. Ranee @ Arabian Knits March 23, 2016 at 12:22 pm - Reply

    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?

    • Alina March 24, 2016 at 7:24 pm - Reply

      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. Zeta March 23, 2016 at 1:06 pm - Reply

    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.

    • Alina March 24, 2016 at 7:25 pm - Reply

      🙂 Thank you so much, Zeta! There is so much fiber goodness out there to try! There are just not enough hours in my day!

  8. Alexis March 23, 2016 at 1:59 pm - Reply

    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

    • Alina March 24, 2016 at 7:26 pm - Reply

      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. Melissa March 23, 2016 at 2:06 pm - Reply

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

    • Alina March 24, 2016 at 7:27 pm - Reply

      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. Alisa March 23, 2016 at 2:38 pm - Reply

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

    • Alina March 24, 2016 at 7:27 pm - Reply

      Thank you so much, Alisa!

  11. steph March 23, 2016 at 2:46 pm - Reply

    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.

    • Alina March 24, 2016 at 7:28 pm - Reply

      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. Chris March 23, 2016 at 11:12 pm - Reply

    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!

    • Alina March 24, 2016 at 7:29 pm - Reply

      Merino/bamboo blend sounds sooo good! Putting it on my to-knit list!

  13. Tania March 24, 2016 at 8:51 am - Reply

    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!

    • Alina March 24, 2016 at 7:31 pm - Reply

      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. sustainablemum March 24, 2016 at 9:54 am - Reply

    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.

    • Alina March 24, 2016 at 7:32 pm - Reply

      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. AikA❤︎ March 25, 2016 at 2:15 am - Reply

    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,


    • Alina March 26, 2016 at 7:28 pm - Reply

      I promised myself never knit anything again for my hubby 🙂 You should get back to knitting!!

  16. The Sitting Tree March 25, 2016 at 1:45 pm - Reply

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

    • Alina March 26, 2016 at 7:29 pm - Reply

      I am so excited to try bamboo for a garment! I love how so many people found the fiber great to work with!

  17. Elizabeth March 27, 2016 at 2:21 pm - Reply

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

    • Alina March 27, 2016 at 7:21 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Elizabeth! I’ve never tried bamboo blends, but I am so looking forward to it in the future!

  18. Elise April 10, 2016 at 1:32 pm - Reply

    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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