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We’ve added a number of new yarns over the past few weeks – check out the “Yarn” page to see them along with some pattern suggestions.
Today’s post is from Amy, our in-house spinning guru.
You found the perfect fiber in the perfect color. You spun it into the softest, squishiest yarn. You keep it in a bowl on your coffee table so you can look at it all the time. You pick it up, hold it against your cheek and pet it.
But now what? What do you do with it?
Hey, we’ve all been there. Frequently we spin without an end project in mind. Maybe it’s because a fiber is so pretty and luscious that we just HAVE to spin it immediately. And sometimes, because we enjoy it, we just spin to spin.
But what to do with the yarn you’ve accumulated?
Sure, you can continue to stare at it. Pet it. Show it off. But why not USE it?
For example, Ravelry makes it really easy to find patterns for knit or crochet fingerless mitts or cowls. You can filter it to show patterns using 150 yards or less of a DK to worsted weight yarn. Plus, they work up quickly – (almost) instant gratification! Or, why not use two or more yarns for a larger, colorwork piece? Maybe you have 300 – 400 yards of a slub single. There are several options out there for small to medium shawls. A lot of shawl patterns are adjustable by just adding or subtracting pattern repeats. And, who says you need to restrict yourself to only handspun yarn? Combine a fat, textured handspun yarn with a commercial lace weight yarn for a scribble effect scarf or shawl. And we haven’t even begun talking about weaving with your handspun! The possibilities are endless!
So, what are my favorite patterns for handspun? Check out the knitted Quaker Yarn Stretcher Boomerang shawl by Susan Ashcroft (on Ravelry @stitchnerd). Many of her designs are well-suited to handspun yarn. I’ve made two of the QYS, and they are so squishy and lovely in a slub single. This one was spun and knit from 8 ounces of Malabrigo Nube in Pocion. I wanted something that would show off the nuanced color changes and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.
I’m also a big fan of a Curl patterns! Check out the books Curls and Curls 2 from Hunter Hammersen (on Ravelry @hunter). These shawls easily adjust to different gauges and weights of yarn. Again, just add more pattern repeats!
This hanspun was originally one of three or four other shawls that were just not quite right. I found the Perfidy pattern in Curls, and it’s the perfect match for my handspun 2-ply. This was made from 8 ounces of Malabrigo Nube in Wales Road. I am loving how the self-striping yarn is highlighting the ripple/wave effect of the pattern.
As you can see, there are some great patterns out there to show off your beautiful handspun yarn! So cast on! Get hookin’! Or warp that loom!
As it usually happens, it’s our customers who inspire our excitement for new projects (aka- who we like to blame for all these projects we keep starting!), and this was definitely the case with the Authenticity shawl. The minute the pattern was pulled out we all began to drool over it. The squishy lace, that color, a big garter stitch border, it was all calling to me.
I got yarn that day, three skeins of Malabrigo Rios in Frank Ochre.
Knitting Authenticity was a dream. It was just what I needed, and I knit it all over the place– school carpool line, in bed, at the creek. I enjoyed the knitting so much that I wasn’t really keeping track of how many repeats I was doing. I just kept knitting and knitting and eventually realized there was no way I would have enough yarn for the border. I could have ripped back, but that’s really no fun. I grabbed a fourth skein and started the border in the middle of a repeat.
It turned out huge, seriously huge. And after blocking, it got even bigger. I did only stream blocked it so that I could keep some of the texture.
I think you would call mine a swanklet. That’s a word, right?
The size ended up being kind of perfect. I’ve wrapped myself in it all winter long, and now that spring is almost here (despite this weekend’s impending snow), I see myself using it in place of a sweater.
We’ve had almost a dozen of these shawls pass through the shop in the past few weeks, and each of them has been gorgeous. Most knitters are using Malabrigo Rios. It is just so squishy, and the colors are so vibrant. Amy also used Rios, but she opted for 3 skeins and did a smaller garter stitch border. That’s another great part about this shawl, you can do more or less repeats than it calls for. You can knit that garter stitch border for inches and inches, or if garter stitch isn’t your thing, you can just do a few rows. Sandy has knit two, one in Rios and one with lace weight yarn and #5 needles.
Authenticity by Sylvia McFadden, available on Ravelry. You can also purchase and download the pattern at Knitorious.
Yarn: approximately 550 yards of worsted weight yarn.
Yarn Suggestions: Malabrigo Rios, Berroco Vintage, Cumbria Worsted, or Berroco Modern Cotton
Needles: US #9 needles
Bruntsfield is a traditional Fair Isle vest pattern by Ysolda Teague, and we recently wrapped up a 12 week class focusing on the pattern. As a teacher, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing someone’s hard work and dedication realized, especially in something as challenging as this vest. We actually had a couple of fairly new knitters (around a year of experience) tackle this project. I’m seriously amazed with your skill– I was still working on garter stitch scarves at that point!
Bruntsfield is knit with five colors of fingering weight wool on a recommended US #2.5 and #4 needles, requiring a serious amount of knitting! Knitters choose colors, swatched, swapped colors, re-swatched, and measured. Ysolda Teague’s patterns are always so well written, and she offers Fair Isle tutorials for things like choosing colors and color dominance.
Like most of the class, I knit mine with five colors of Harrisville Shetland- charcoal, black, silver mist, white, and marigold. I find that choosing colors is always the hardest part of Fair Isle knitting. While swatching helps, it can be difficult to visualize the pattern as something larger than a 4”x 4” swatch. One of our knitters, who has taken classes from the great Meg Swansen, recommended holding your swatch up against a mirror to see a larger version of the swatch. That’s kind of brilliant.
A few of us did have to swap out colors before starting. I originally had red in my palette, but it dominated the swatch. Another knitter had too many bold colors fighting with one another, so she choose to omit one for another neutral. And then of course, there were a few who were able to pick the right palette from the get go.
We all learned quite a few tricks as we went, even me. One knitter suggested spit splicing new colors in as you go to eliminate as many ends to weave in later. Another found that coloring in her chart with her colors was easier to visualize where she was at in the pattern.
The hardest part about knitting any garment is trying to get the right size. One knitter ended up knitting and blocking three different swatches before she found one that would give her the fabric and size she wanted. Her finished vest has an amazing fit! I have knit two Cruden vests (another Fair Isle vest pattern from Ysolda), and while I love and wear the vests, they are just a little too boxy. I decided to shorten this one a bit and added three more sets of shoulder decreases, both good decisions for my vest.
Oh yeah, the steek! Maybe I should take back what I said about the hardest part about this garment being the size. The hardest part about this one was CUTTING IT! Now, prepping the steek was easy, but cutting your knitting is not something any knitter wants to do. It’s definitely a leap of faith and really the only way you can knit a vest like this without pulling out your hair. A couple knitters steeked in class, and there was a collective sigh of relief when yarn didn’t just fly out from the cut edges. Phew.
The Bruntsfield pattern can be found on Ravelry and is available for purchase and download at Knitorious
We’ve been your local yarn store for more than a decade. You’ve been coming in for yarn and pattern support, you’ve been meeting people, making friends, and it’s high time that we’ve grown our online presence.
The funny thing about a yarn store blog is that just being in a yarn store creates a narrative around yarn. Everyday we have customers, old and new, coming in looking to create something, and now we’d like to create something for our customers that tells the story of Knitorious.
We look forward to telling you more about our yarns, patterns we can’t wait to start, local happenings, and ourselves.
Stay tuned for staff and customer bios, yarn spotlights, shop happenings, and just our general love for what we do. We can’t wait to tell you more and learn more about our customers and community as go.
We have new yarns from Blue Sky, Malabrigo and The Fibre Company/Kelbourne Woolens. Click on the Yarns menu item above to find out more.