Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Introducing Edradour, a simple, lace-edged shawl knit in Jill Draper's stunning Mohonk Cormo.

This design was a last minute addition to my travel plans, thought up a few days before I boarded the plane to Scotland on my way to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival last month.

While packing, I realized that the original travel knitting I had in mind was both too dark and too complex for the type of at-night pub and social time I was envisioning, so I wound these two pale blue skeins and started playing around. I knew the light color would make it easy to see no matter how dark it may get in a bar or plane cabin, but I also knew I had to find some simple lines and an easily memorizable motif in order to be able to keep knitting through travel and social distraction.

Things usually do NOT come together as quickly as this did, but I think all the pre-trip adrenaline was working in my favor, and I was terrified of going without an easy, portable project in hand.

Soon I had found both a motif and a basic idea I wanted to keep playing with, and after a few more hours, I managed on a rough sketch, some measurements, and a pencil chart so I had a plan for moving forward.  Before my Uber picked me up, I even had a few inches of shawl going and was ready for travel. It was kismet, right?

Truth be told, I did end up reknitting it twice. First, I did it to add the second lace detail.  I knew it needed something more, and was about a quarter of the way in, so that was the first frog. The second reknit was about 3/4 of the way through. I wanted a longer, shallower crescent shape, so I pulled it all back again, although only just past center this time.  BUT the shawl turned out better for the frogs, and I never ran out of knitting, and more Cormo is ok with me. Sometimes you just have to do it.

And now that I'm home and it's all written and finished, I can share it with you!   You can find the PDF for Edradour available on Ravelry for 6.50 or on the patterns section of the blog here.

The main detail is a unique lace that reads as both bold and feminine, but it's easy and rhythmic and totally addictive to work.  It's paired with a single stitch accent stripe in a contrast color, some simple transition elements, and a shaped stockinette center. On the far edge, a second, smaller lace bit echoes the feel of the main detail and kind of brings it all together when wrapped on the shoulders. It's big and cozy and it falls and wraps nicely upon itself, which also works because the stitches look good on both sides, making this design easily reversible.

The Mohonk yarn is perfect, and Jill's colors are gorgeous.  Like many of the JDMS yarns, Mohonk is made with a nod to local farms and small scale production. The fleece comes from NY sheep, is spun up in VT at the Green Mountain Spinnery, and then is dyed (with love, as it says on the tag) by Jill herself back in NY.  It's a sport weight Cormo, but I worked it on #8 needles for that light and easy quality I wanted.  The fiber itself is airy and round and rustic, so the shawl feels cozy, but has a lofty quality to it.  And in this cool pale blue, it just feels summery to me. The subtle vareigations in the color also add interest to the fabric without competing with the textures in the design.

As with many of the knits I love the most, I find this one a little addictive. The combo of gorgeous yarn and easy lace just begs to be knit repeatedly, I guess. I've already begun another one for Fall in deeper darker colors. The next version is in a mossy green called Cypress - with a heathered gray stripe from  my stash for the accent.  It's my soccer game project and you'll find me doing a few inches every Saturday for the next few months.

If you want to think about colors for your own version, Jill is updating her shop with options - a few of which are pictured below.  She's paired 2 skeins of Mohonk with a mini skein of an accent stripe, and you can find these "kits" in her shop. If you don't see a combination you want, you can find unpaired skeins of Mohonk listed in Jill's shop or at any of the retailers that carry Jill's yarns - and you can easily pull a little worsted from your stash to stripe with your choice.

As for Edradour itself, this name was a special pairing. I wanted a Scotch, since this project needed to be named for our shared travels, but I wasn't sure which whisky to go with.

Edradour was suggested by the talented Lori (also known as Jarmeblue on Ravelry).  And it really seemed perfect.  Edradour, much like Jill Draper -- is committed to staying true to authentic small scale production.  Located on a beautiful farm in Perthshire in the Scottish Highlands, the distillery was purchased by Andrew Symington from one of the big corporations and is now privately owned and operated.  They make over 25 single malts in beautiful farm buildings dating back to the early 1800s.  The distillery story is here, and it's really charming.  Yarn made thoughtfully with a nod to tradition and history should be paired with a whisky that does the same.  I think so, anyways.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

How about a chance to win Jill Draper's gorgeous Mohonk yarn (shown below) and this upcoming design from me?  The shawl is a project I began in Scotland and knit on my travels, and it will be named after a small, historic distillery located in the Scottish Highlands.

But the shawl isn't quite ready yet, and I'm thinking that the short amount of time between now and then might be perfect for casting on a quick hat or cowl like Hudson Bay .....

Or even getting into the spring spirit and starting a delicate lace cardigan like Baileys or Margarita? 

I think that as soon as the weather begins to turn, I just pine for new beginnings.  Some flowers in the yard, new pots on the porch, and maybe a switching out of the cushions on the outdoor furniture. And if you guys know me at all by now, you know I'm pretty impatient by nature.

So, when Jill suggested we do a giveaway, I thought it was the perfect excuse to fill this short period of time between now and when I'm ready to release this with a few distractions (those being YOUR projects).

In order to win the shawl, just begin a new BabyCocktails pattern and post it on Rav.  Pair up some yarn to a pattern you've been meaning to try, cast on, and then make that Ravelry page and share it on the website. I'll pick the winner out of the new projects that pop up.

Any new projects posted between now and the end of day on Wednesday 4/13 will qualify to win - and I'll announce a winner on Thursday 4/14.  Jill has a few skeins on the way to me, in a colorway I'll share once they arrive, and the pattern itself will be out later the week of 4/18!

So maybe it's time to begin something? Anything you've had on your list for a bit? Here's your excuse to cast on.

More information and a thread in which you can knit along on any BabyCocktails project is here.  The actual contest announcement is post #249 in that link...