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.
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!
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).
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!