Working with cashmere yarn.
Meet Steppingstones - shown in our new limited edition color, pine. It's my new pattern whose name has a twofold meaning. Peppered with random-looking yet planned squares of stockinette stitch, these little squares invoke for me the notion of steppingstones scattered along 'rivers' of lace. The intent of the pattern is also a steppingstone - a 1-skein introduction to our fingering weight cashmere yarn with basic stitches opened up on a US size 6 knitting needle so that the result would be ephemeral and beautiful, simple enough for new knitters yet interesting enough for seasoned ones.
A scarf is born.
Often, I design from stitch patterns. I love to knit swatches of various knitting stitches and then imagine what garment or accessory would best compliment the stitch pattern. In this case, I was inspired by a scarf my friend Janet wove from one cone of our weaving and fine knitting 2-ply cashmere.
I was so taken in by how light, airy, and simply beautiful Janet's woven scarf is that I wanted to try to transfer its feel to knitting.
Here is how my design process progressed:
Swatching for Steppingstones in our new, limited edition color Terracotta.
Starting from the bottom: I couldn't see the lace openings with purl stitches - the two competed; I didn't get the feel I was after with larger lace squares and stockinette; I hit the jackpot with smaller strips (Is this a bit like Papa, Mama, and Baby Bear and the porridge?) - but wouldn't those little interruptions of stockinette look lovely if they seemed random? So then to figure out the math for planned randomization. . . and edge stitches. . . and repeats for just enough width/length to get a lovely piece from just one skein of fingering. . . and a couple of weeks later, voila. The stitches aren't new - I see this final lace stitch in many patterns now that I look - but the stitch interpretation and planning are what make it unique for our fingering weight cashmere.
Then the knitting fun began. Knitting on a US size 6 needle was novel for me. I found it very satisfying to progress on a relatively quick knit that doesn't compromise on yarn quality or beauty. There was enough repetition yet varying stitches that the scarf kept my attention. I could imagine whipping up a few of these for holiday gifts (if I didn't need to get on to the next designs nagging at me) . . . My neighbor Pam (my spur-of-the-moment model) loved it, as would so many recipients of the scarf.
A knitting pattern for new knitters.
My hope with this pattern (and why I entitled this post, 'A cashmere pattern for new knitters', is that it's the first in a line of 'Introduction to Cashmere' patterns. The goal of these patterns is to:
- Offer beautiful, timeless accessory patterns from fewer skeins of yarn
- Utilize basic knitting stitches
- Take advantage of larger needle sizes if possible
- Give knitters confidence in working with cashmere - your skills are good enough!
- Help knitters feel like they can tackle larger projects using our cashmere knowing that it's a yarn that will last a lifetime.
- Be interesting enough for experienced knitters
- Help knitters learn new techniques in knitting
Steppingstones is a great introduction to lacework and learning yarn overs, ssks, and p2 togs, as well as understanding how a slipped stitch edge finishes any knitted piece beautifully. And should a new knitter want help with any of these stitches, we have our Knitting Together sessions every other Sunday where you can pop in, get a demo or ask questions, and hang out and visit if you like. I'm also available by email to ask questions (email@example.com) and I have on my long list of to-dos to begin adding technique videos as we upgrade our website.
So here's hoping you'll want knit Steppingstones right away to enjoy its lightweight, soft, luxurious warmth all winter long.
Until next time, may you find much joy in knitting with our yarn, especially in a world that continues to crumble around us daily. I know I'm seeking out this yarn to center myself and remind myself to keep looking for good, to notice the beauty of nature and search for kindness around me, to celebrate our gifts and skills. Sending uplifting thoughts to all. Warmly, Amy
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