Please forgive me for falling behind, I’m still catching up on my blogging (and knitting, and other things) … why does December have to consume such a large part of January? Anyway, I wanted to show you another success story, the Barbara cowl.
It’s a simple knit, and a free pattern, and makes for a nice splash of colour mid-way through winter. We used 2 skeins of Malabrigo Rios in colour 96 Sunset (I thought it would nice and sunny looking forward to spring, like Pantone colour Saffron), but any worsted weight yarn will do.
Barbara is knit lengthwise like a scarf and then seamed, so it isn’t particularly technically advanced. You can seam it into a regular loop or a mobius loop, whatever tickles your fancy. If you wanted to turn it into a scarf I’d work about 1.5″ in K1P1 rib at each end to give it a nice finish.
Barbara would of course look great in other yarns … I can see a nice fluffy version made with Drops Air (3 skeins). Something classic in a heathered colour would be great made with Cascade 220 Superwash (2 skeins/5mm-US8 needles) – a great knit for anyone who likes things simple. Personally, I’m really into Fibre Co. Road to China Light right now, I can see it making a super sexy accessory I’d never want to take off (3 skeins/4mm-US6 needles) … oh god, please help me, I think I just fell down a rabbit hole …. I’ll tell you about my progress with Road to China Light in my next post!
We finished up a new store project, our Beach Wrap pattern, but this time we did a little experiment and made it with a bulky cotton yarn, Berroco Estiva. Estiva is a new yarn this year, so we’re still playing around, putting it through it’s paces, but I think it’s definitely reorder-worthy for next spring. It’s soft, 100% cotton, bulky, and not heavy or ropy like most bulky weight cottons. That ticks a lot of boxes for me. It’s also made in Italy (ie. not made by slaves) and is machine washable on cold, which is are features I didn’t expect but please me.
The wrap came out significantly smaller than our original version in linen, so if you want to make a larger wrap you can cuddle into you should get an extra cakes of Berroco Estiva. I thought it was a teachable moment (at least I got teached), so I’m going into it in more detail in a follow-up post (I actually drafted that post first, so I PROMISE it will come).
Berroco Estiva: 1 cake for smaller version (in the pictures), 2 cakes if you want your wrap larger.
I just finished this Clapo-Ktus wrap and it came out beautifully! I was itching to work with some of the Handmaiden Flyss on our shelves, a Canadian hand-dyed blend of Silk and Linen, and I was looking for a one-skein project that wouldn’t take too long and would show off the textile – I think totally NAILED IT.
Clapo-Ktus (terrible name, but the pattern is free) is actually a combination of two popular patterns, the Clapotis scarf/wrap, which involves dropped stitches, and the Baktus scarf, which is knit from side to side. The dropped stitches are gorgeous and make great use of the yarn’s natural drape (linen and silk are both fibres that are ALL drape, and have zero body). The Baktus part of the design give it a triangular shape, and allows you to use exactly as much yarn as you have on hand (hence a one-skein project).
The Finished Product
I wasn’t initially sure the one skein would be enough, but as I dropped the stitches it expanded beautifully, and after blocking it was magnificent. If you are interested, I would definitely also recommend making a Clapotis with this yarn, it would be a stunner! I originally envisioned this project as a wrap for the spring and summer, and I think it will hold it’s own in this department, but when it was finished and I tried it on I actually ADORED wearing it as a spring scarf. The fabric isn’t heavy or dense, and the textile is soft but has just enough texture to make it interesting. The Handmaiden Flyss is definitely knit-worthy, I’d like to make a sweater with it next!
Just one caveat – I ended up with these weird open stitches on one side, where the dropped stitches were initially created (you can see them in the picture below with the hanger). I thought I followed the pattern, so I’m not sure what went wrong or how I ended up with this. With all the dropped stitches in the fabric I don’t think it’s a big deal or unsightly, but if you have any idea what I’ve done please leave a comment!
I loved out first version of the Quaker Yarn Stretcher that we made a second in a lighter, springier colour. We used the same yarn, one skein of Handmaiden Maiden Hair, but we tried some larger (7mm/US10.75) needles this time and got an even lighter, airier effect. It still makes a great, light-as-air scarf, but you can see in the pictures below it’s a perfect wrap for cool summer evenings and chilly wedding halls everywhere. Or just drape it on things around your hose and enjoy the prettiness all year (I seriously used to have a friend who did this – she used to art-direct her apartment long before blogging and the internet. Her for-display-only yarn basket was what got me into knitting).
The yarn, Handmaiden Maiden Hair, is just gorgeous, I absolutely adore working with it before, during, and after the project. Apparently you do to, so we have ordered more in some springier colours and it is on it’s way!
We accidentally changed the pattern and worked e rows of garter stitch instead of reverse-stocking stitch, but it isn’t highly noticeable (see modifications below)
I splurged and got myself a second set of Knitter’s Pride Knit Blockers, because I absolutely freakin’ LOVE THEM. Blocking the shawl was a dream with them, they are my favourite new thing.
R 1 to 12: Work Rows 1 to 12 as written in pattern
I love this new scarfy/wrappy pattern, Orion, from Nick Davis. I adore the simple but elegant welted ribs – they always give a simple air of style to a basic knit. Plus, it’s made with one of my favourite yarns, Malabrigo Rios. Rios is a hand dyed, super soft, machine washable merino wool made in Uruguay by a family owned company that supports local development environmental sustainability (plus they’re really nice, I met them at a trade show last summer and we chatted for a bit). If you want to substitute another yarn, you can use any worsted weight yarn.
The pattern uses basic short-row shaping to create the asymmetrical ribs (something else I love). If short-rows are a technique you don’t already know you don’t need to be afraid, they aren’t difficult and are definitely worth learning. There are LOTS of tutorials online, there’s a good one with photos and video HERE.
Mini Short-Row Knit-Hack
It’s easy to lose track of where you are in most knitting projects, but if you start with a consistent system your chance of success goes up exponentially! The most important thing about how to make short rows successful and fun is to keep track of what you are doing and where you are:
Put a locking stitch marker in your wraps to mark them. Everything is easier when you can see it clearly!
Keep track of your rows as you go. Your system doesn’t have to be fancy, I usually just use paper and pencil to track where I am in the pattern, and I often tick off my progress right on my pattern. Plus, I’m a big fan of pencils, because if I have to rip back my work I can erase and adjust my notes without making a mess that will inevitably confuse me later.
I love combining colours, and this simple scarf is an easy way to experiment. It’s a free pattern (YAY!), and it isn’t very hard to knit. The colourwork is easy-peasy, you just hold 2 strands of the yarn together and change up the colour combinations at the pattern tells you. And if you are afraid of knitting with 2 strands held together, don’t be, it’s simple! If you want a wider scarf or a wrap, just add extra stitches to your pattern and made sure you centre the decreases in the middle.
We used light as air Malabrigo Lace on 4.5mm/US7 needles, and the finished scarf feels light (great for fall strolls through fallen leaves and apple picking). The pattern was written for fingering weight yarn, which would make a slightly sturdier garment suitable for a cold winter climate. We used semi-solid colourways, but I think it could look really beautiful using variegated/multicoloured yarns (I’d go 4 colours of Manos del Urugay Alegria). And of course, it could be a great way to use up some yarn in your stash.
If you’re tentative about choosing colours that will look nice together, I usually suggest picking a palette with colours in the same family, or close-ish to each other. Blues and greens go nice together, especially turquoise or teal. Blue and Purple, Red and orange or red and pink blend well, as do neutrals.
We finished the scarf after working the colourway twice (once was too short), and we could have kept on going, we still hard yarn left (I have put the yardage amounts in the Ravelry Project Page).
I LOVE this project, the Quaker Yarn Stretcher was definitely a win. When I cast on I wasn’t sure if it was right for the yarn (Handmaiden Maiden Hair) but my intuition told me that it would work out, so I pushed on, and I’m glad I did. By the time I was ready to cast-off, I was wishing I had another ball – not because I thought the project needed to be larger, but because I was just enjoying it so much. The size is just right for a fall scarf. The fabric is light and airy; the silk in the yarn shows up as beautiful highlights of colour, and the kid mohair creates a soft, beautiful halo. If the Handmaiden Maiden Hair is a little out of your budget, or your skin is too sensitive for any type of mohair, try a skein or two of Malabrigo Lace Baby Merino on 4mm/US6 to 4.5mm/US7 needles (2 skeins if you want a larger size) – it’s 100% super soft merino wool and puffs up with a beautiful aura type halo effect.