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Em made a yarn at the Border Mill!

June 13, 2019
A blend of black BFL (Blue Faced Leicester), a bright and a deep red UK alpaca, I made this yarn at The Border Mill last summer, and it’s getting close to being a finished sweater!

Last summer I was treated to a very special ‘behind the scenes’ visit to The Border Mill, a small mill in the Scottish borders, where husband and wife team Juliet and John make beautiful yarn, with particular focus on processing alpaca fibre. One thing that is special about their business is that they don’t have minimums; they will process as small a lot as a single fleece.

What surprised me was learning that the making of yarn, they way Juliet and John do it, is a CRAFT process. I suspect that the word Mill had led me to make assumptions of a much grander scale and automation. After spending a hands-on afternoon looking at the steps from fleece to skein (and even to hand-woven textiles), I have a new appreciation of the level of time, attention, expertise and craft that go into every part of the process.

Juliet and I outside The Border Mill.

how yarn is made at the Border Mill

Juliet and I spent an afternoon going through the process from fleeces arriving at the mill from all over the UK, to finished yarn all ready for your knitting, crochet, or weaving pleasure! While The Border Mill does process both sheep and alpaca fibre, they specialize in alpaca, which requires care and special handling to achieve the best results.

checking the fleece

Juliet and John receive fleeces from clients across the UK, and first they assess them for quality and feasibility. There are some kinds of fleeces that the mill can’t handle (for example, if they are altogether too dirty).

tossed

Next, alpaca fleeces go into a ‘tossing basket’ outside (this is probably not the technical term!), in which they are tossed and tossed, like in a tumble dryer. A good deal of the dirt and dust plus many of the guard hairs are shaken out through the mesh of the basket.

Here you can see how different guard hairs (short, coarse) look in comparison to the finer fibres that will be used in the finished yarn. Doing a good job removing guard hairs is important to achieving a silky-soft and non-itchy alpaca yarn.

washed

Next the fleece is washed in big commercial washers. This can take a long time. Sheep fleeces can be relatively easy to wash because they have lanolin, and when the detergent washes out the lanolin, it carries a lot of the dirt and grime along with it. As alpaca fleeces do not have lanolin, they hold onto the dirt and dust more stubbornly.

air dried

After the first wash, fleeces air-dry for a day or two on mesh racks.

into the blower

Fleeces are sent into the picker room next, which is a very basic method of opening up the fibres.

through the pre-drafter

The fiber next travels through a pre-drafting process, which opens up the fibres and separates out a lot of the shorter staple lengths and guard hairs, improving the fibre that remains.

a second wash & dry

At this point the fleece goes back into the washing machine, and out onto the drying racks for a second cleaning, now that the fibres have been opened up significantly, and any of the shorter fibres removed.

dyeing

While much of the yarn that the Border Mill’s produces are undyed natural shades, Juliet also creates EXQUISITE tweedy colourways. Fibre is dyed into several different shades ‘in the fleece’ – that is, before spinning – and then these different colours are blended together in in the following steps to form tweedy and heathered yarns.

carding

On the carder, we begin to blend fibres for the finished yarn. To make my yarn, we combined different colours and fibre types, layering them one on top of another on the conveyor belt that fed the carding machine. I chose to combine dyed black British BFL wool with red and pink dyed British alpaca fibre. What came out the other end of the carding machine is called a ‘sliver’ – a long snake of partially-drafted fibre, ready for further blending.

Feeding dyed fibre into the drum carder.
The sliver that came out of the drum carder; we did some that were red, some that were pink, some that were a blend, and some that were black.

combing & blending

The slivers were blended together further as they travelled through a combing machine called a drawframe, creating the final ‘semi worsted’ sliver which has partially-aligned fibres. The number of times that the sliver passes through this machine impacts how aligned the fibres are, and also how evenly blended the colours are.

Because I wanted my yarn to have a ‘tweedy’ finish, with hints of the base colours that we began with showing through, we didn’t want the fibres to be too evenly blended.

This machine blended the slivers of different colours together, and combed to further align the fibres. We sent the slivers through 2-3 times each, and they gradually became more blended.

spinning singles

Next the completed sliver is spun into singles! The spinner looks like a pretty complex piece of machinery… I was very impressed.

plying singles to make the final yarn

Once singles are produced, they are plied together on a machine similar to the spinner, to form a 2-ply (or more) yarn. We designed my yarn as a 2-ply, and between fingering and sport weight, so that it would match well with Border Mill Alpaca Tweed Silk, and I could pick some contrast colours from the shop’s delicious rainbow!

finishing touches

Once the spinning process is complete, yarn is finished by steaming it, which helps to set the twist so it doesn’t split too easily. Lastly it’s wound onto cones, and then off onto balls or skeins, and labelled for sale.

For some Mill customers, Juliet also creates custom hand-woven textiles. She really stewards the entire process, from fibre off the back of the beast to a fabulous result! Visiting her weaving studio brought home once more how artistry, craft, and care are woven into every aspect of the business.

I am pretty much in love with everything I see from The Border Mill! The colours, the softness, I can’t say enough about how special this yarn is.

I designed the Tortoiseshell shawl for Laine Magazine issue 6 in Border Mill Alpaca Tweed, a tweedy worsted-weight.

Plus I’ve gotten part-way through a sweater for myself in the yarn custom yarn that I made! I’m still planning to adjust the yoke design slightly before I call it ‘done’, but here are a couple of ‘work-in-progress’ shots. What do you think?

Love Note

June 3, 2019

Once upon a time, at EYF, I saw, from across the room, a skein of hot pink mohair. It was love. I needed it. ‘I don’t even like pink…’ I told myself. But somehow, I crossed the aisle, picked up that skein of Skein Queen Floof, and it came home with me (don’t worry, I also paid for it!). At that same show I also snagged two skeins of La Bien Aimée merino singles, in ‘neon static’ and ‘Aimee’s sweater’. I knew they were delicious, but I didn’t know what they might become, so they joined the rest of my (significant) stash!

When I’ve got a wedding to go to, first thing I wonder is (DEEP SIGH), what will I wear? For this one, I pulled out an old favourite dress (one that my former flatmate said was ‘probably too short for a family wedding)’. HAHA. I love it to bits and discovered I could still, with some aggressive zippering, maneuver into it. BUT, it needed just the right sweater to go with it. Head to the shops for something? Of course not! I had a whole week before the wedding, so it was clearly time to cast on.

The results of this cast on frenzy became the Love Note, a sweater with much to recommend it: a little lace, cropped, a soft like a springtime duckling, and PINK! What more could you want in wedding attire?

The English springtime, well, it’s not warm. I’m not gonna lie, I had chilly thighs, but no regrets! John piped in the guests, and the Scots side of the family represented in matching kilt getup.

I’m not gonna lie, my thighs were COLD, but damn, was that sweater ever fabulous! And like a true professional who pays her mortgage by designing, I told the whole extended family “yeah, it’s my own design”, with that sort of pride and earnestness displayed by children to adults who respond with a kind of tolerant disregard. Sometimes family doesn’t ‘get’ your job, especially when that job looks, from the outside, to be little more than going to coffee shops and knitting all day! Ah well, at least my husband, business partner and I recognize that I do indeed have a real job.

Over a dress is great, but this look is really more my daily style.

I cropped this number hard, and it’s great over a dress, but to be honest I’m not a big wearer of dresses, I nearly always wear jeans and a tank top. So it works this way too. I’ve worn this sweater nearly every second day for a year, so that’s a pretty solid recommendation for its usefulness in a non-fancy wardrobe like mine. I love the floaty fabric, the lovely halo, and the delicious colour always lifts my mood.

This was the swatch that convinced me to blend the hot pink mohair with the pale speckle! Check out our tutorial on blending mohair for suggestions on how to choose a pairing.

#LoveNoteKAL with us!

Usually by the time Alexa and finally complete and launch a new design, we aren’t too keen on knitting it again… at least not for a little while! But Love Note? We can’t get enough! we both immediately wanted to cast on another! Alexa’s making one in La Bien Aimée in ‘shire’ mohair over ‘shire’ merino singles. I’ve got some Rainbow Heirloom Kidsilk Cloud that I really want to make into another for me… So we’re going to Knit Along together! Starting now (Alexa’s already begun) our super serious deadline is July 15, 2019. Just kidding, it’s not serious at all!

So, cast on for your feather light, warm and fuzzy Love Note today, and KAL along with us on Instagram using the hashtags #LoveNoteKAL #LoveNoteSweater and #tincanknits! Or participate in our Ravelry Group if you don’t do Instagram.

Painterly Yarn Combinations: layering mohair over a base yarn

May 30, 2019

Lately we’ve been having great fun combining lace weight mohair yarns with other yarns, resulting in beautiful painterly effects. Our new Love Note sweater and Posy shawl patterns both use this yarn combination.

Years ago at Edinburgh Yarn festival I impulse-bought a couple single skeins of La Bien Aimée yarn in ‘Aimée’s sweater’ and ‘neon static’. I also found myself irresistibly drawn to this hot pink Skein Queen Floof. It was a set of impulses that would really come together! Last year, I had a wedding to go to, and the world’s love of pink was really ramping up, so I decided a pink sweater had to happen, right?!

I swatched various yarns that I had alongside the pink mohair, and could tell right away that the speckle would be a winner! On the far right you can see the pink mohair and next to it the yarns I swatched alongside. What a difference combining makes!

Alexa saw my photos and said ‘WE MUST PUBLISH THAT PATTERN’. So I got to work perfecting the details and developing colour combinations that would work with the soft and romantic palette I envisioned for our Paris trip.

Through extensive swatching, I have some strategies to share on how to select colour combinations when combining a lace weight mohair with a sock weight yarn!

Combining or ‘blending’ mohair with another yarn

There are a few different ways to blend mohair with another yarn; using a yarn that is the same colourway, a darker colourway or a lighter colourway. Are you curious about how, physically, to knit two yarns together? We’ve got a post here all about marling, and a post here that explains how to work with two strands held together.

mohair + yarn in the SAME colourway

The top left of this swatch is La Bien Aimee’s ‘yellow brick road’ colourway on both mohair and merino. Underneath is the ‘yellow brick road’ mohair with ‘romance’ merino.

When working a mohair lace with a sock yarn in the same colourway, the blended colour will essentially come out very much the same as if you were knitting in a single colour; while the mohair lace takes the dye slightly differently than the merino yarn, the overall effect is fairly similar. The above example is a blend of La Bien Aimée Merino Singles with La Bien Aimée Mohair Silk , both in the iconic ‘yellow brick road’ colourway.

This is Alexa’s Love Note holiday sweater in the works. She is knitting it up in La Bien Aimee singles and mohair, both in the ‘shire’ colourway. You can see that while they are the same colour, the merino is lighter while the mohair adds a darker halo.

Alexa is also making herself a holiday party sweater Love Note in La Bien Aimée Merino Singles and Mohair silk in ‘shire’; a deliciously vivid green. You can see how the mohair and merino are slightly different colours, and the depth and shine this adds to the finished fabric.

Sticking to a single colourway is a beautiful way to combine yarns, but I’m personally more intrigued with mixing DIFFERENT colours, and finding out what kind of effects I can achieve!

darker mohair + lighter yarn

When you blend a darker or more saturated mohair with a lighter yarn, the paler colourway seems to glow underneath a deeper halo. I REALLY love this effect, it’s what we used when I made the Love Note sweaters, and for the heavy-weight version of the Posy shawl too.

The Love Note pullover uses La Bien Aimee … over ..

The deep dark Love Note is a blend of La Bien Aimée Merino Singles in ‘rust’ with La Bien Aimée Mohair Silk in ‘undergrowth’.

Top-to-bottom: La Bien Aimee ‘rust’ mohair over ‘rust’ merino, then ‘undergrowth’ mohair over ‘rust’ merino, then ‘undergrowth’ over ‘undergrowth’. While the single-colour combinations are beautiful, the two-colour blend has a fascinating liveliness.

The pale ephemeral Love Note is a blend Rainbow Heirloom Solo Light in ‘driftwood’ with Rainbow Heirloom Kidsilk Cloud in ‘sweet dreams’. To my eyes, this is technically a more saturated colour over a less saturated one, with the value of the two yarns being quite similar.

Top to bottom: Rainbow Heirloom ‘sweet dreams’ mohair over ‘driftwood’ merino, then over ‘apparition’ mohair. The difference between the colours of the merino is subtle, but the warmness of the ‘driftwood’ makes for a very different effect overall.

The original hot pink Love Note prototype I made is a blend of La Bien Aimée Merino Singles in ‘neon static’ striped with ‘Aimée’s sweater’ held with Skein Queen Floof in a vivacious hot pink (I lost the yarn tag, oops, but I think it was like ‘barbie’s handbag’).

The subtle neon speckle shines through underneath a halo of vivid mohair.
When I made the first swatch, I assumed that the hot pink mohair would work best combined with a deeper, darker colour, so I tried a red/orange, a medium pink, and then a deep plum. While these speckled / marled effects not without appeal, I wasn’t satisfied. Lastly I tried the pink over the pale speckle and got VERY excited. This combination was perfect!

The soft yellow Posy Shawl is a blend of La Bien Aimée Merino Singles in ‘romance’ with La Bien Aimée Mohair Silk in ‘yellow brick road’.

You can see how La Bien Aimee’s ‘yellow brick road’ mohair is a much more saturated colour over the speckled colourway ‘romance’. I love this combination; the speckles are muted, and the mohair colourway itself is toned down too.

For Bodhi’s Love Note that JUST popped off the needles, Alexa used La Bien Aimee Mohair in ‘pb&j’ over Singles in ‘neon static’. I love the way the purple ‘softens’ the speckled neon static.

lighter mohair + darker yarn

When the mohair is paler than the other yarn, the blended colour comes out closer to the darker single, with the fuzzy halo of the fabric being lighter. I find this combination a little less compelling, but it can also bring a subtle beauty.

This tiny size of the Love Note pullover was knit in Tosh Merino Light in a green/gold and Debbie Bliss Angel in ’11-mint’

value matters

The difference in value (relative darkness or lightness) between the two colours you are combining matters. The swatch below illustrates this.

I find the dark teal mohair over the pale grey to appear more ‘speckley’, with an effect that seems more marled than blended. Where I’ve used the dark teal mohair over the mid teal, the difference in value is more moderate, and the yarns colours ‘blend’ more effectively.

Top to bottom: Rainbow Heirloom ‘wicked pacific’ mohair (quite dark) over ‘apparition’, then Madelinetosh Merino Light in ‘esoteric’, then Rainbow Heirloom in ‘wicked pacific’. I LOVE the combination in the middle, in which the merino is somewhat lighter than the mohair, but find the top combination, with the high-contrast pairing, to be too ‘speckley’.

So from my perspective, combinations with a moderate rather than extreme value difference between a darker mohair and a lighter yarn feel more ‘blended’ and effective.

A similar example is illustrated by the swatches below. On the left, Alexa swatched two options for her Love Note sweater; La Bien Aimée mohair in ‘shire’ over ‘life aquatic’ (top) and ‘shire’ (bottom). The mohair in ‘shire’ is quite a deep dark colourway, and we agreed that the effect was just a little too ‘speckley’ to feel right for her.

On the other hand, ‘shire’, in the merino was quite vibrant and bright, so despite the fact that they were the same colourway, the fabric has that glowy depth she was aiming for.

Top left: La Bien Aimée ‘shire’ mohair over ‘life aquatic’ merino. Bottom left: LBA ‘shire’ over ‘shire’. Top Right: LBA ‘elise’ mohair over ‘life aquatic’. Bottom Right: Walk Collection ‘jungle’ mohair over LBA ‘life aquatic’.

I took the LBA ‘life aquatic’ merino home from Paris with me, and decided to try combining it with a couple of mohair options. The top mohair is LBA ‘elise’ and the bottom is Walk Collection in ‘jungle’. I decided that ‘elise’ was the winner. To my eyes, it’s just a bit less harsh a contrast than the ‘shire’ mohair over ‘life aquatic’, and this difference means the blending works.

Get started swatching! Blending mohair with other yarns is a VERY fun way to essentially ‘build your own yarn’, and you can begin using materials from your own stash! Try it out, I think you’ll enjoy it.

my next mohair + projects

I got started pretty quickly on a modified Lush cardigan. I think I’ll be cropping it too, and working relaxed bell sleeves… I can never seem to follow a pattern as it’s written, even my own, sigh!

This yarn blend would work exceedingly well for other projects too… I considered hacking a Boardwalk or Lush cardigan, and you can see what I settled upon! I am working it on 6.0mm needles at the same gauge I did the Love Note sweater on, and thus I’m adjusting the pattern for a different gauge (we’ve got a tutorial on that here).

This mohair blending method would also work very well for a ‘fade’ type project. You could gather your sock-weight scraps and organize them within a similar value, or to create a fade. Then you could blend them all together with the addition of a single colour of mohair held alongside each through the project. I’m imagining a faded oversized flax sweater in my future…

mohair stripes, mohair solo

The bottom swatch is mohair worked in 2-row stripes with sock-weight yarns. The top is mohair lace worked on its own.

Yet more swatches! I’ve got about a million plans in my head, and one of them is a Playdate, or adjusted Boardwalk using stripes of mohair + sock yarn. I’m also intrigued by the possibility of a sweater made entirely in mohair lace… perhaps a Bonny lace top?

So, what will you blend? Do you prefer a lighter halo over a darker yarn or vice versa? We can’t wait to see what blended gems you come up with!

La Bien Aimée

May 23, 2019

Our recent trip to Paris was amazing. Em and I spent days chatting, drinking coffee, visiting museums, and eating all the pastries TOGETHER! On one of our last days in Paris we spent time getting to know the amazing Aimée of La Bien Aimée, taking her picture, and enjoying knit night at L’Oisive Thé.

Aimée in the Penny sweater in LBA Merino DK in ‘blush’

When Emily and I decided to meet in Paris we knew we wanted to release a few lace designs we had been working on. We immediately thought of Aimée’s delicious yarns, and asked if she’d be willing to model for us too!

Aimée, looking lovely in the Posy shawl knit with LBA merino single and mohair silk held together. We used ‘yellow brick road’ with ‘romance’.

We had met Aimée briefly at Vogue Knitting and Edinburgh Yarn Festival, but during the madness of a knit show, it can be difficult to have a proper chat. As we wandered the streets near her cafe, choosing locations and taking photos, she shared some of her story. She spoke of dreaming as a young person about moving to France, how circumstances aligned and she moved to Paris, how her business began and has grown, and about her many travels.

Love Note in LBA merino singles and mohair silk held together. Colourways are ‘Rust’ with ‘Undergrowth’.

One of the things I’ve always loved about photographing our patterns is the chance to make and deepen friendships. There is plenty of time for conversation between shots and locations (or while I fiddle with my settings). It can be an opportunity for a shared adventure!

Photos done, we enjoyed knit night! Aimée is a wonderful host and a fascinating person, we sat and chatted, ate dinner, and of course, knit. It was a leisurely evening of discussing the latest pattern and yarn combinations and trying on our new designs.

We also had to stop by the La Bien Aimée shop… we might have had to go a couple of times to get it just right! We came away with yarn for a few projects, we are both smitten with layering mohair over a single, it makes a totally new combination!

Meeting the wonderful people in this industry is always a treat. It was a great opportunity to spend some time getting to know Aimée!

A mini collection from Paris

May 9, 2019

Emily and I couldn’t just hang out in the same city at the same time, we had to put together a little collection too! When springtime brings warmer and brighter days, we love knitting lace, and we now have four new lace designs to share: Love Note, Posy, the Penny sweater and the Penny hat.

Love Note

Emily whipped up the prototype version of this soft and floaty sweater last year. It’s been so well loved and often worn that we know you’ll love yours just as much! Love Note is knit by holding a lace weight mohair and a sock weight yarn together. Knit on nice big needles (US 10/ 6mm) it’s a very quick knit, and it feels light as a feather and drapes beautifully when worn.

Love Note Sweater

Penny

Penny is a raglan sweater with a v-neck and a striking textural lace pattern. We’ve styled it both cropped and regular lengths, and I can’t decide which I like better. We knit it in both a beautiful hand dye from SweetGeorgia in ‘grapefruit’ and a gorgeous subtle speckle from La Bien Aimee in ‘blush’.

The Penny hat has the same lovely lace as the sweater, but is knit up in a sport/sock weight yarn. We knit it up in one of Emily’s current faves: De Rerum Natura Ulysses. The bouncy yarn is perfect combined with textured lace, and the decreases are my favourite part, reminiscent of the beautiful windows in the impressive buildings around Paris.

Penny Hat

Posy

Posy is a crescent shawl with texture and a floral lace pattern. It’s generous dimensions make is a sumptuous wrap, in either a light sock weight version, or a luxurious heavy weight version. We added a touch of extra luxury in our heavy weight version, combining a single ply and a mohair.

Posy Shawl
This light and airy version of Posy is in Julie Asselin Nurtured Fine, a single ply sock weight yarn.

Images of both Posy samples: Caption: Light weight shawl shown in Julie Asselin Nurtured Fine in ‘dew’, Heavy weight shawl shown in La Bien Aimee Singles in ‘romance’ held with La Bien Aimee Mohair Silk in ‘yellow brick road’

Posy Shawl
I love these little buds in the heavy weight version, the halo of mohair is so luxurious!

25% off of the bundle! Until the end of May 2019, get a discount if you buy these 4 patterns together! Simply add the 4 patterns: Love Note, Posy, Penny, and Penny Hat to your cart on Ravelry.com or on our website, and the discount of 25% ($7) will automatically be applied.

Happy Lace Knitting!

The amazing Aimee of La Bien Aimee in the Penny sweater. This soft and subtle colourway is ‘blush’

Bizmoon in Paris

May 6, 2019

It’s not often that Emily and I are in the same city at the same time. We met while working together at a yarn shop in Vancouver, but since then have always been a long distance pair. We work most of the time with an ocean and an 8 hour time difference between us, so it a treat to be together in the same room!

This year we met in Paris, a place we have both longed to visit. We are here having a grand time, doing a bit of photography (new designs coming VERY soon), but mostly eating pastries, walking for miles, seeing the sights, and discussing our dreams and ideas for Tin Can Knits.

If you are a Paris local come join us for knit night at L’oisive The on Wednesday May 8th at 6:30 – please book ahead in the L’oisive The Ravelry group here.

Finishing samples at the last minute? Never!
More Eiffel Tower? Yes we know it’s a tourist cliche, but…
Of course we had to pop in at La Bien Aimee!
Took my new sweater out for a spin! Admiring the beautiful Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre.
Taking in the architecture.
Nerds in our matching sweaters!
Nina and Ross in their best ‘Alexa made me pose for this’ pose.

New lacy lovelies coming soon

We have some new lacy designs for you that we’ll be launching in coming days! Hope you’ll join us at L’oisive The if you’re in the neighborhood!

A sweater for my bestie

April 18, 2019

I was seventeen years old in 1999 when Air Canada dropped me into the sweltering humidity of a small Ontario university town where I would study architecture… in preparation for becoming a hand-knitting pattern designer, of course. I was pretty certain I was grown up, and knew everything I needed to about the world. This is, of course, hilarious looking back.

Chantal and I twenty years back, in 1999 – first year of Architecture at University of Waterloo

Chantal was 20, super cool and oh so worldly, having worked and traveled around Europe the year prior. A long-legged blonde, she wore a yellow rain coat and jumped in puddles with a contagious crazy-eyed exuberance. So I followed her around like a puppy, overawed, and we became friends. Over our university years, we shared a dim room in Rome, a walk-up in Montreal, a lovely two-bedroom in Toronto, a hot little townhouse next to the tracks in Cambridge Ontario, and had many wacky adventures. Though we haven’t lived in the same city for over a decade, we still talk every month or two.

When I was getting married in 2014, Chantal landed in Edinburgh, and took over my unrealistic project to design and sew three bridesmaid dresses (WTF did I think I was doing?!). She calmly consoled me when, 72 hours before the wedding, I concluded amid floods of pregnancy-hormone-fueled tears that NO, the wedding dress I was attempting to construct WOULD NOT work. Luckily 2 hours of shopping later the tears were dry and I had a dress I loved.

That was 5 years ago! Since then I’ve wanted to make her something special, a gift that would show at least a fraction of the love and work and time that she’s put in over the years. This sweater was the result. Full disclosure? I made this for her in May 2018 when she visited Scotland, and it’s practically an entire year later and I only just shipped it last week…

I’m modelling Chantal’s sweater, as I couldn’t manage a trip to Toronto to photograph her!

Chantal’s Sweater

This sweater is a Strange Brew yoke. I followed the bottom-up sock weight instructions, thought I made body and sleeves on the knitting machine to save time. After yoke join, I had 344 sts on the needles. I diverged slightly from the Strange Brew recipe by working raglan decreases (at the points where sleeve sts and body sts joined) 3 times, decreasing the stitch count to 320. Then I set up the 8-st pattern repeat.

As this was a ‘knit’ rather than a ‘design’ I felt free to pick from my rather large palette of 4-ply yarns. The body is Tukuwool Fingering, which is this LOVELY Finnish yarn, available in a great palette. I hoped this sweater would be be a hard-wearing heirloom (it’ll probably be another decade before I make Chantal another sweater). I selected contrast colours from within my extensive collection of shetland and shetland-style 4ply yarns, and they all work nicely together.

I used several yarns and colourways:

I worked this decreasing wedge chart through the yoke, then a couple of decrease rounds above the chart to get to the neckline stitch count desired.

I had this idea of 2-toned motifs, that worked against 2-toned bands of background colour. I staggered the changes, so that the foreground motif colours change on a different round than the background changes. This worked pretty well, the only part of the pattern that didn’t really read as clearly as I liked was the two colours of light pink in the middle; they’re too similar to read as two different tones, and the background colour ought to have changed out a round earlier. But this was a level of imperfection I could accept in a ‘strange brew’ sweater knit. I accept that I’m never going to get it 100% perfect, and trying to do so would prevent me from getting to FINISHED.

At chart completion, the stitch count was 240 sts. My aim was to get to a neckline stitch count of 128 sts. Right after the chart was finished, I first I worked a single round in MC, then a decrease round [k3, k2tog] around to 192 sts.

Next I found centre back, and worked some short-row back of neck shaping. I used the short-row instructions from the Icefall pattern, following instructions for the XL size, as it had the stitch count nearest to my total at that point. After short-rows, I knit another couple of rounds, then a final decrease round; [k1, k2tog] around, to 128 sts. Lastly I worked a narrow band of 2×2 ribbing and blocked it all aggressively! Beauty eh?

Overall, I worked about +/- 52 yoke rounds, then the ribbing. That’s pretty close to what the Strange Brew recipe pattern calls for for a SM (37” bust) size.

So tell us, have you knit a friend a sweater? Or a hat? What do you love about gift knitting?

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