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.
So it’s the end of the summer, you aren’t ready yet to let go and drift into fall, but you’re over summer projects … so make a little one-skein, scarfy-wrappy thingy that you’ll be able to wear in fall and spring. Close to You is a great little pattern, it’s got a little bit of detail to keep you involved, but it also has enough straight knitting that you don’t have to commit too much brain power. It uses one skein of fingering weight yarn, so it’s a perfect little project for a mini-splurge, or dig into your stash. It should knit up beautifully in a solid, semi-solid, variegated, or self-striping yarn like Madeline Tosh Tosh Merino Light, Manos Alegria
1 skein of any of these yarns is perfect to make Close to You :
I find really interesting things when I browse through the patterns on Ravelry …. one of the things I found this week was a micro-collection of the same cowl made over and over again in different colourways of Urth Uneek Fingering (ON SALE UNTIL THE END OF JULY). I thought it was awesome that this knitter, Deb-Knits, enjoyed her project and the yarn so much that she wanted to continue exploring and experiencing it. I also get it, the project is GORGEOUS, and it illustrates that all the colourways of Urth Uneek Fingering work up beautifully. And hey, is it ever too early to start holiday knitting?
This project is the brainchild of my friend Jo, and I’m very grateful that she came up with this simple solution because it’s GREAT! This wrap drapes like a big scarf, but is also equally wearable as a wrap. The pattern is almost totally brainless; it’s a great second or third project for a beginner knitter, but it also works equally well for more experienced knitters hanging out on the patio with a beer or a cocktail.
It’s designed with the Handmaiden Casbah 5ply Gradient Kits(which we are constantly restocking), but you can use any DK or Sport weight yarn (or if you want to play around with the base math you can use other weights of yarn). You can make it as a gradient colourway, like ours, or use a single variegated, solid, semi-solid, ombre, or even self-striping yarn – it’s such a simple shape that just about anything goes, it’s totally flex.