Ah,the mighty Clapotis! This must be one of the most popular designs in blogland. Google returns 230,000 results for the search term “clapotis,”and Ravelry lists it as the #2 pattern with 250 WIPs,2,716 projects,and 344 blog posts. (In case you were wondering,the #1 pattern is Monkey,with 259 WIPs).
(How the heck do you pronounce “clapotis”? I pronounce it French-like,“klap-o-tee.”A friend of mine insists on pronouncing it “klap-otis,”but she might be doing this just to vex me. I am sadly vulnerable to such tactics.)
But ask yourself…how many Clapotises have you seen in the wild? I have seen precisely one,and it was at a fiber festival,so that doesn’t really count. Based on the number of people working on a Clapotis,we should be ankle-deep in the things. What’s happening?
A brief (and entirely unscientific) study of the factors involved in the high Clapotis failure rate revealed the following:
1. Poor yarn substitution:Fiber content
The pattern calls for four (four!) skeins of Lorna’s Laces Lion and Lamb,which retails for around $32 per skein. We all love our knitting,but do we love our knitting enough to drop $120 on the yarn for a scarf? Most of us do not,so we throw ourselves on the mercy of our stash,and pick something a little more affordable.
Lion and Lamb is a worsted weight,wool/silk blend with a smooth,almost slick feel. When subbing a yarn for Clapotis,I strongly suggest you knit a swatch several inches high,then drop a stitch. How hard is it to get that stitch all the way down to the cast-on row? Do you have to pluck at it with a crochet needle while tugging your swatch back and forth?
Magnify this stitch-dropping experience by about 12,000%. This is what it will be like to knit Clapotis with that particular yarn.
2. Poor yarn substitution:Weight
Lion and Lamb is a worsted-weight yarn,and you still need 820 yards of the stuff. According to these numbers I totally pulled out of Google’s butt [pdf] and some sloppy Erika Math,you would need to substitute 987 yards of sport,or 1,110 yards of fingering weight yarn.
Let’s take a step back and look at those numbers. That’s a lot of knitting. If you substitute a yarn smaller than worsted weight,it will involve more knitting still –99.5% of which will be plain old stockinette. Are you up for that? You sure? Many have tried,and many have failed.
Trust me,closets across the world are littered,choked with the remains of partially-completed Clapotises in fingering and sport weight yarns.
3. This thing is really,really big
The pictures in the original pattern don’t really give a feeling for the size of a completed Clapotis. Even the finished measurements (21 inches by 55 inches) fail to convey the sheer gigantism of the thing. Have you seen the picture Franklin took of Knit and Tonic’s Clapotis on the beach? Well,I can’t find it right now,but here’s her official FO picture. Look at it! It’s huge!
The size has two consequences:
* It’s a lot more knitting than you might expect.
* Choose your colors wisely!
That kicky red-and-orange variegated yarn may look awesome in the skein,but ask yourself,how will it look at blanket size?
You may try to avoid the size by knitting it smaller,with fewer set-up rows. That’s what I did,and it looked great at first!
Unfortunately,Clapotis is designed to curl. That’s part of why it’s so huge –it curls up into a tube and still looks great. However,if you knit it in sport-weight yarn (as I did),it will curl up into a tube about the size of a pencil. And then you will wrap it around your neck and you will feel sad.
Clapotis is beautiful and easy to knit,and the pattern is very well-written,but it does have several potential pitfalls. Approach with caution.