Tuesday, May 31, 2016

I've named this one A Beer on the Dock

I find that small, portable projects are perfect for summer knitting so my attention turns to accessories right about now.  A Beer on the Dock is easily memorizable and totally addictive -- the perfect thing to knit while sitting in the sun with a cold drink nearby.  It's worked in an immensely satisfying yarn, with bold lines that make it easy to put down and pick back up.

The deep, squishy motif looks like a cable repeat, but is actually a simple mix of lace and garter stitch. The distinct, flowing lines in this one create a beautiful transition from ribbing and a cool pattern in the crown shaping.  And it is serious happiness in Kristine Vejar's new Range yarn from A Verb For Keeping Warm.

I picked up two skeins of Range earlier this spring during a visit to Oakland.  It's a gorgeous, springy 100% Rambouillet, and it's part of the California Wool Project, an effort to revitalize the California wool market.  The natural shades in this yarn are stunning - the skein is a subtle silvery-heathery gray, which begged to be knit immediately. When I called to mention that I had come up with a motif I liked for a hat design, Kristine asked if maybe it could be ready for the Squam Art Fair, where she'd be teaching and vending this year.  So yes it is. 

For those of you who can't make it to New Hampshire, the PDF on Ravelry is $1 off with the code SQUAM until Sunday night at 5pm when the fair's over.   

I actually found the pattern so addictive that I knit a second one, in AVFKW's Pioneer, which is also soft and wonderful and part of the California Wool Project.  I had a natural brown on hand, but Pioneer comes in all the shades of natural dyed goodness that A Verb For Keeping Warm is famous for. I happened to have a matching alpaca pom on hand as well, so....

On a side note, it makes me happy that I ended up designing this for Squam, since the Art Fair last year was an experience that made me want to commit further to thoughtful yarn choices and the smaller players in our industry, and to really think about what goes into the skeins we knit with. I've had this on my mind ever since working with Fox Hill Farm for my Beekman Tavern sweater in the Rhinebeck Book, but before this past year, I still hadn't made a serious committment to changing my habits.

Last year at Squam, Clara Parkes gave a wonderful talk about her journey to create her own yarn and the struggles that face the smaller farmers and mills and fiber producers that exist today.  And Squam really is this crazy magical, introspective place where even I (not so woo woo) paused to really think about what mattered to me, what was special about the traditions and methods and fibers she was speaking about, and then - what power I might have in the conversation.  What my responsibility should be, and what I could do to change things, even if it was in a small way.  All the connections that already existed, and those that maybe didn't but should and could be made. (if any of that makes sense, anyways....)

I've thought a lot about her words since then, and I've tried to make intentional and thoughtful choices about the yarns I've designed with since. I've tried to get more eyes looking at yarn that's important to me, run by people I respect, and produced in ways I love.  However, there are few people more dedicated to sustainability and responsibility in the textile world than the team over at A Verb For Keeping Warm. Kristine Vejar has been a pioneer and a trusted voice in sourcing and working with local, natural materials for years now.  It makes me proud to think that this hat project reflects my goals from last year, that it shines a light on someone who works on this stuff with her heart and soul, and that hopefully it will lead some of you to give these skeins a try.  In a small way, right? It all adds up.

More details and test knitter projects are (will be) up on Ravelry, and the PDF can be purchased for $6 either there on on the accessories section of this blog.  (Or for $5 if you use that SQUAM code before Sunday night!)

I won't be at Squam teaching this year, but I do hope to pop in on Saturday night and partake in a little of the magic of the weekend, pet a few more skeins, say hello and hug some friends.  And I absolutely plan on having a beer on a dock while there. 

(Thank you to my lovely old friend Jen, who wore my clothes and sat on the dock and drank beers with me while I took photos of her. She is much amused by this whole thing... but I am much amused by her job, so we are even.) 


Alicia said...

I love your mission to design with yarns that are meaningful to you, and the hat is lovely!

Wart said...

I enjoy your blog and patterns so very much!

Jennifer said...

What a lovely hat pattern! And a lovely mission, too.