I was really thrilled when this showed up at the shop last week:
There are two reasons – well make that three. First, I love Storey Publishing’s series of One Skein books. Secondly (and consider this the full disclosure portion of this post), there are several WEBS staffers (current and former) who have projects in the book, along with a couple of other industry friends. Congratulations to you all. Thirdly, I have a wee little projected included as well!
Just a sweet little baby hat, knit using a bulky yarn. I chose to use Fibre Company’s Pemaquid. It’s a yarn we’ve carried for awhile and I’ve always been enamored with it. I selected it because I wanted to use a chunky yarn -I knew there would be lots of stunning lace projects and gorgeous socks and just wanted to be a little different. The pattern itself is simple and I even incorporated some beads on the tassel.
While waiting for the book to come out, one of the worst things that can happen to someone who has used a yarn in a project that has been accepted for publication happened. I found out the yarn was discontinued. UGH! How did I let this happen to me? I own a yarn store! I speak with the yarn vendors all the time! I made the fatal error that sometimes happens to designers. I fell for the yarn. Head over heels, I-must-have-you- and-nobody-else-but-you, in love. I just had to knit with it!
Rather than be practical and make a quick call or send an email to double check and say “Hey, Pemaquid’s solid for the next couple of seasons, right?” I let the yarn fumes get to me. I basked in the glory of swatching, knitting a bit, frogging, knitting some more, etc., until the wee little hat was done. For what it’s worth, the yarn did behave well during the process. I was a little worried, given its content (60% baby alpaca/30% merino/10% soy) and the fact that it’s loosely spun, that it might not hold up to the frogging, but it did so quite nicely. So, there is my hat in the brand new book. Now, I must find a substitute.
In considering what yarn to use, I had to start with gauge. Pemaquid knit at 3 sts = 1″ on a #10. I took a look at our Valley Yarns line and although Berkshire would knit to the gauge I need, I didn’t think the yarn was right for this project both in feel and quite honestly, as much as I love Berkshire, I wouldn’t classify it as luxury.
So, out to the store I went. I stayed out of the warehouse because selecting a closeout would only compound the problem (although I do think there are a couple of nice options out there). Now, for those of you who have shopped the store, you know we have a lot of yarn. That’s true even for those of you who shop on-line with us. I figured I’d have more options than I’d know what to do with. Wrong – again! Although we have quite a few 3-3.5 sts to the inch yarns, the second criteria I was using was feel. How would the yarn feel on a little one’s head? Nobody wants an uncomfortable baby! Uncomfortable babies = unhappy babies. Unhappy babies are no fun.
Here’s what I’ve got for choices at the moment:
1. Ariosa from Classic Elite.
This yarn was actually one of the first ones that came to mind. I knew without looking the gauge would be right and I knew it was super soft. Ariosa is 90% extrafine merino/10% cashmere. It has 87 yards and at 3.5 stitches to the inch, I’m confident I can get it to the gauge I need. The only problem? Ariosa has pretty sophisticated color palette. I was going to leave this one off the list, but kept coming back to it. For the traditionalists among you, there’s the cream color and a few primaries. For the rest of us, I’m pretty partial to the lime green.
2. & 3. Next up are two similar yarns. Misti Alpaca Baby Chunky and Plymouth Baby Alpaca Grande.
Both are 100% baby alpaca and both are spun similarly (to each other and Pemaquid). Misti’s has 108 yards and knits at 3.5 sts = 1″. Plymouth’s has 110 yards and knits at 3 sts = 1″. The color palettes are different although I think both have nice options (both also have handpaint options if that’s the look you are interested in). One other point to make with these two options is that I think you would be able to get two hats out of one skein – not 100% sure until I try it out, but that’s what my gut is telling me at the moment.
4. Lastly, I had to consider the pinnacle of luxury – cashmere. Despite Steve’s diatribes about my cashmere stash (which is not nearly as extensive as he thinks it is) we actually don’t carry a lot of it in the store. I also want it noted that I did not go with cashmere in the first place. For me, the natural choice was Classic Elite’s Sinful:
Sinful is 100% cashmere and knits at 3.5 sts = 1″. The palette is lovely and the yarn screams “make me into adorable heirloom quality baby items”. This is the most expensive of all of the options shown.
So, what do you think? Do I have a winner here? Is there another yarn I’ve overlooked (it’s got to be one that I carry – only criteria). Vote in the comments so I can get knitting!