This year, just like knitters everywhere, my knit and natter group has been heavily into cake. Obviously we have the baked kind – there would be a riot if we turned up to find there wasn’t a homemade offering. Nigella’s carrot, walnut and ginger cake was a massive hit at the last meeting. Custard creams, millionaire’s shortbread, Anzac biscuits and rhubarb and custard cake have all been memorable bakes of 2017. We did enjoy watermelon one warm summer’s night – but the fruit was a phase. Knitting, nattering and cake just seem so right together.
Yarn cakes are what I’m talking about though. Self striping, variegated yarn with a generous meterage so that you can complete an entire project from just one ball. Neat and portable, lending themselves in particular to scarves and shawls, their main selling point for everyone at my knitting group is that there are NO ENDS TO SEW IN!
I’ve tried three different brands in the last 12 months. The first was Wendy Evolution, a 50/50 cotton/acrylic mix, marketed as a scarf in a box. There is both a knitting and crochet pattern printed on the box but the text is so minute, I would definitely recommend downloading a more readable free copy from the manufacturer’s website. Unfortunately, I went wrong several times on the 8-row repeat pattern of the crochet version and by the time I’d finished the increases, I’d also fallen out with the yarn which I found very loosely spun and therefore prone to splitting.
I couldn’t face the thought of beginning again, and sulkily abandoned the half-finished wonky scarf. Fortunately a friend was happy to unravel and re-home as she finds it lovely to knit with. On the plus side, the colour changes are nicely subtle (though I wasn’t keen on having little knots every time a new strand is introduced) and it drapes beautifully. By far the biggest benefit of Evolution though, is it’s cat-proof box!
Next I bought a Sirdar Colourwheel shade 203 Flower Garden. This is a DK weight 80/20 acrylic/wool. The pattern I downloaded was no.8027 an easy crochet triangle scarf. No problems following this one. It hooked up quickly, did not split and no knots to be found. The yarn feels pretty cosy and isn’t scratchy so is a decent budget choice. Instructions for the border were a little vague, particularly what to do at the corners, and the pattern didn’t say how many rows to work – so I winged it. On my final row, I had literally 5cm of yarn left!
In hindsight, I would work a wider scarf with a narrower border. Though the colour changes are very blocky, I was surprised by how much I liked this effect once I started draping it in various ways.
Most recently I was seduced by the gorgeous Scheepjes Whirl, a 60/40 cotton/acrylic blend, perfect for a lightweight Summer shawl. Admittedly a Whirl costs more but with a generous 1000m length, your kilometre of yarn goes a very, very long way. There’s no splitting and new shades are cleverly plied, therefore no irritating knots. The change of hue is subtle, giving a more sophisticated effect and there is a large and growing range of shades available, including a glittery frosted range – so definitely something for everyone.
I chose the vibrant shade (780) Key Lime Pi. I wanted a good long scarf that would give me a number of draping options and was keen to have a horizontal colour change. I didn’t use a pattern but experimented with a simple rippling combination of chains and trebles to come up with this.
The Whirl could take hard blocking which enhanced the lacy effect and wavy edge.At Knit and Natter we have Mabel, the communal mannequin. Here she is helpfully but not especially stylishly modelling the finished item. It occurs to me that I really need to work on my artful draping!
Of the three, the Whirl is my clear favourite. The only downside is that it’s so difficult to choose just one!