Birch and "Crack Silk Haze"
I restarted Birch on Sunday on 4.5mm needles after having frogged the four or five repeats I'd knitted on the recommended size needles (5mm) as the gauge wasn't working out right. I'm getting on really well with it and have now done ten repeats and, as a result, decreased 100 stitches leaving me with a grand total of 199!
Now that I've got used to the stitch pattern, I don't need to use the stitch markers because I can tell what I need to do next just by looking at it so know if I've done something wrong almost immediately. I think the stitch pattern also looks nicer done on the 4.5mm needles. Here's a close up which looks a completely different colour to the photo above probably due to the flash on the camera!
Frogging it wasn't as bad as I thought it might be. Everyone who's tried to unravel Kid Silk Haze must know that it can be a bit of a beastie! However, that doesn't stop some of our friends across the pond referring to it as "Crack Silk Haze" because, apparently, they can't get enough of it! Who was it that first coined that phrase? I've a feeling it was the Yarn Harlot but I may be wrong. If anyone knows, could you please let me know because I want to add the term to the Knitspeak blog.
Anyway, back to the frogging. Some people swear by putting Kid Silk Haze in the freezer for a while before frogging takes place. Apparently, the cold closes the cuticle on the hairs so the fibres don't stick together. However, Sharon Miller, who designed Birch and gives support on the Yahoo Heirloom Knitting Group says she has never had to resort to the freezer yet but has undone heaps of KId Silk Haze using the guidelines below.
Undo one at a time any cast off sts or 'pass slipped st overs". Do not rely on a tug to undo these sts in mohair as, if anything, this tends to knot the yarn.
Use the point of a smaller knitting needle to tease decrease sts undone.
Sit in a good light where you can see what's happening. At any resistance, stop unravelling and needle loose the fibres that are trying to knot.
I followed this method and the only bit that was really troublesome was the cast on row. In the end I discarded the yarn used for this row because I figured the small amount of yarn involved proportionately wasn't worth the time and effort I'd need to spend in trying to undo it.
Another thing I picked up from reading people's blogs is that the yardage can vary quite a bit with Kid Silk Haze to the extent that some people have found that three balls wasn't enough for Birch. It's advisable therefore to definitely get an extra ball of the same dye lot just in case you are one of the unlucky ones. The extra ball can always be returned if it's not needed.