As with each of our previous specialty hand dyed yarns, we have three amazing designs to share with you that have been knit and crocheted in our Valley Yarns Northfield hand dyed by Malabrigo. First up is the Maplewood Cardigan designed by Carol Sulcoski.
From Carol – “I have been a customer of WEBS for a long, long time – I remember receiving the really old newsletters that were more or less a typed-out list of what yarns were available. I still get so excited getting the WEBS catalog in the mail, although now it’s as beautiful as a magazine. I was so excited to be asked to design a sweater for the WEBS Anniversary celebration. I do some hand dyeing, and love designing with hand dyed yarns. When I found out I was getting Northfield, I was thrilled – it is probably my all-time favorite Valley Yarns base. And the colorway dyed by Malabrigo, called Piedras, was fascinating: at first look, it reads like a semisolid brown, but the more I knit with it, the more I noticed all of the many other colors that were in it, shades of brown from golden brown to russet to taupe, and also hints of lavender, gold, gray and slate. When I thought about what to design, I decided to design the kind of sweater I’d want to make myself (if I had more time to knit for myself). That meant a minimum of finishing, it meant something without long sleeves or a high neck (since I always run warm), and lately I’ve gotten the most wear out of longer sweaters that I can wear over a dress. I also wanted to figure out a way to showcase the beautiful dyeing, so I opted for a mostly-stockinette-stitch garment, where the colors would be the focus of attention. Next I took into account the qualities of Northfield yarn. It’s got excellent stitch definition, so I opted for an edging to show off how beautifully the yarn looks in a pattern. It’s got silk and alpaca in it, which gives it drape, so that was a good match for a longer sweater that would have a bit of swing at the hem. But it’s mostly merino, which means it has elasticity to help keep it from stretching too much – also a good quality for a longer sweater. I swatched a couple of different edgings, and found the one I used in a Japanese stitch dictionary, although I modified it a little. I began knitting from the bottom hem up, starting with the edging. I used raglan shoulder shaping, and kept the sweater fronts purposely narrow so they wouldn’t need a closure (and I hope that this will make the sweater more versatile when it comes to fit; if you have a larger bust, it won’t matter because the front edges are so narrow they fall along the side of the bustline). The design came together really quickly and I didn’t have to do too much fiddling with things, although I did play around with different edgings for the armholes and neckband. I ended up using a simple crocheted crab stitch. I really do want to knit another one of these for myself!”
Carol also offers these useful tips, “The biggest tip for knitters who make this sweater: if you do use a hand-dyed yarn (and I highly recommend the hand dyed Northfield!), pay close attention to the slight color variations between skeins. It’s pretty much impossible to hand dye skeins exactly alike, so you may notice that some skeins look more “alike” than others. I knit from two different skeins at the same time, alternating skeins so that I knit a row or two with the first skein, then switched to the second one. (Of course if you use solid Northfield, this won’t be an issue.) I chose to switch balls of yarn at the side (imagine where a side seam would run if the sweater were seamed) so that the front edges, which are knit as you go along, wouldn’t have noticeable places where I had to weave in ends. Have fun!”