New Yarn, New Pattern!

One of my favourite things about autumn is the way the knitter’s biological clock starts buzzing. The tiniest chill in the air sparks a profound need:

must. knit. warm. things.

Suddenly thick, cozy wool – the same yarn that I could hardly stand to look at all summer – becomes overwhelmingly appealing. I can’t be the only knitter who feels this way. In fact, I know I’m not. Over the last month working in the yarn shop, customer requests have shifted from “where is your cotton/linen/bamboo?” to “how much of [blank] would I need for a hat/cowl/oversized sweater.” I’m thinking of writing a scientific paper on the phenomena. The Effect of Seasonal Changes on Yarn Cravings and Economic Resource Distribution in the Knitter Population.

The other exciting thing about autumn is that it usually means a new batch of patterns from magazines and a new batch of yarns from manufacturers. In September a sample of a new fall yarn from Debbie Bliss arrived on my doorstep from the lovely people at Laughing Hens, I was understandably delighted. Introducing: Odin.

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Odin, from Conway and Bliss (for Debbie Bliss) is super bulky, single ply, 75/25 wool/acrylic blend. I’m not usually a fan of acrylic yarns, but a single ply this thick the acrylic added some much-needed strength. I didn’t have any issues with the yarn splitting or breaking while knitting, despite knitting a cable pattern at a tight gauge.

I whipped up several swatches of different cable patterns trying to find one that suited the yarn, which conveniently tested how well the yarn ripped back and re-knits. The verdict is: it’s okay. Rip it back once, it’s going to be fine. After multiple attempts, the yarn becomes more difficult to work with and starts taking on more of a fuzzy halo effect. Single ply yarns are more prone to pilling than their multi-ply siblings, so this is understandable.

My plan was to whip up a small cabled cowl that could be done with a single skein of yarn. There wasn’t sufficient stitch definition to make single stitch cables viable (which is a diplomatic way of saying: they looked like I put the yarn in a blender. It was so ugly there are no photos. You’re welcome.) Two stitch cables showed up well though, and this was the result!

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This photo was pre-blocking, which leads me to what finally made me appreciate this yarn: it blocks REALLY well.

Like. Really really well you guys.

My concerns about mediocre stitch definition were abated once the garment hit water. It cleans up real good. I do have some concerns over its long-term durability, seeing as it’s more prone to pilling/fuzzing, but that’s the drawback of any single ply yarn. While I don’t recommend it for children’s garments, vests, or sweaters, it’s well suited to accessories. Especially ones that only need occasional washing.

So, to tally up the points. Pros: it’s warm, comes in sixteen different colours, is reasonably sturdy. Cons: It’s prone to pilling and not machine washable despite the synthetic content. Price point is £7, which I think is well worth it for the right project.

Speaking of projects…

I liked my little test pattern so much, I’ve elected to publish it. The pattern is called “Odin” after the yarn itself. While I love me a good oversized cowl, sometimes you want something warm that tucks neatly into your winter coat. What’s nice about this style is that it buttons one of two ways, either overlapping (as shown on the left) and snug, or adjacent (as shown on the right).  odin-styles

Because it’s knit in a super bulky yarn this cowl knits up mighty fast, making it a great last minute gift. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, which us Canadians celebrate this weekend, I’ve decided to offer the pattern for free until Tuesday, October 11th (so y’all can get a jump on your Christmas knitting). You can download Odin from Ravelry here.

Thanks again to the folks at Laughing Hens for reaching out to me. Until next time – happy stitching!

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Is it a shawl? Is it a cowl? Is it a… poncho?

Whatever it is, my newest pattern is now up on Ravelry!

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Devil’s Backbone is now available on Ravelry as a free download until July 10th. This one skein project was originally conceived back in December as a way to show off the subtle colour shifts in Lichen and Lace’s “lichen” colour way. I love the shifting yellow/greens and wanted to make something lace-ish that appeared complicated, but was actually a fairly straight forward knit. After a lot of false starts and bouts of perfectionism, I had a growing zig zag pattern that could be knit for long periods without consulting the pattern.

Not that, as a pattern designer, I recommend FORGETTING about the pattern. Even if I’m guilty of that a fair bit myself…

This was the first project to make me fall in love with Lichen and Lace, and single ply merino in particular. It’s so soft! And it blossoms so nicely after washing. I’d go on to make a whole sweater out of it after this (if you follow me on instagram…hint hint…pictures of it are already up!)

But back to this pattern – who’s name I should add is inspired by the PLANT devil’s backbone, not any…skeletal demon thing. Though that would be cool! Maybe as a hallowe’en shawl! Oooooh, I better get my notebook…

I’m off track again. Here, think fast, picture!

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I owe a debt of gratitude to Julia for the pictures, and for spending an afternoon in a SUPER WINDY (and garbage strewn) park to get these shots. Thanks darling! We had lots of fun, but as you can tell from my hair in this shot…WINDY.

(When it’s windy I recommend a light shawl. Such as this one. See that, subtle.)

I played serious yarn chicken with this one, so the pattern does have a few early exits if you find yourself running low on yarn. Or get two skeins of fingering weight and make it extra huge, the pattern is in your hands now. Have fun!

 

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FO: Snowfall Mittens

Last week I managed to finish Jess’s mittens! I managed to squeeze a few rows between my Thursday classes and finally they were finished. I blocked them that evening and it took almost two whole days for them to dry. I have a feeling that they took longer to dry because they were sitting in my poorly-ventilated residence room all day.

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Photo credit to Jess S.

Pattern: My own Snowfall Mittens design, still working on writing up the pattern but it should be done soon!

Yarn: 50g Lambs Pride Super Wash in Navy Night and 50g Lambs Pride Super Wash in White Frost both from Lettuce Knit.

Needles: 4mm metal dpns

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Photo Credit to Jess S.

The pattern is fairly repetitive and once I had figured it all out on graph paper I barely had to refer to it after the first repeat. The trickiest part was actually incorporating the thumb gusset without “jarring” the pattern on the palms.

The mittens blocked really nicely thanks to the beautiful yarn. Every single time I block something it’s still a little bit magical to see all the little stitch inconsistencies and uneven bits (that I may or may not have fretted over to several unlucky people.) smooth out.

For me Fall is the ideal mitten knitting season- it seems like the perfect way to prepare for winter before the snow flies. Mittens, much like socks, are very portable which is a big plus for me. Well that’s all for right now- it is midterm season after all!

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