A few months ago, my dear Mumzie gifted me with 8 gorgeous hanks of Black Water Abbey yarn in luscious wine color. It turned out to be the wrong color for her, but she was convinced it would be perfect for me. Zippity-do-dah, I totally agree.
The challenge has been finding the right project to do the yarn justice. I keep striking out.
I’m kind of fussy. This yarn loves cables. It practically begs me to tie it up in celtic knots. The problem is that I don’t much care for most of the Aran sweater patterns out there. They’re boxy and heavy in a way that I know would also make me look boxy and heavy. I’m not a willow wand. With such a dense fabric, I need a pattern with some interesting geometry to it. Something with enough structure to tame that yarn into a flattering shape. I refuse to spend months on a sweater, only to wind up looking like someone who belongs on What Not To Wear.
Sorry Stacy and Clinton. Stay on your side of the TV.
I’m on a mission to find the perfect pattern for this yarn. I was very excited by my first sweater candidate: Mishke
I love the shape of this garment and the kind of cables they used. I’m convinced that I could wear it and look stylish, not schlumpy. The original pattern was done with Madelinetosh DK, but I found an alternative version on Ravelry that had been knitted in my yarn!
I was very excited by this pattern and wanted to cast on right away, but one of the saner angels of my nature fluttered up behind me and tapped me on the shoulder. “Hadn’t you better do a little more research first?” she asked, with an overly patient look on her face.
So I did a little more research. I looked up other patterns that had been knitted with this yarn. And I sent a note to WoolinHand at Ravelry, who knitted this Black Water Abbey version of Mishke to see if she had any recommendations for me. What a gem, she responded right away. But what she had to say put a pin in my Mishke fantasy balloon.
Hi! I got your email about the Mishke, and I do have some recommendations. Have you ever worked with the BWA yarn before? It’s a little more harsh to work with than other worsted yarns and doesn’t have much stretch to it. However, it holds a cable well, has beautiful colors, and softens up after washing. People have very strong opinions about this yarn. I made this sweater as a model for Black Water Abbey, and I love the yarn, but don’t think it’s right for this pattern. It was hard to get gauge and needed a lot of blocking to get it right, and then I still think the pattern needs a softer yarn. I don’t want to discourage you from trying any yarn you wish, but that is just my professional opinion.
If a very knowledgeable designer thinks that this pattern is not right for this yarn, that’s a good reason to move on.
I began looking for other patterns knitted with this yarn on Ravelry. Sadly, most of them looked depressingly boxy and boring. Although this sweater vest caught my eye. I’m not a vest person, but this is cute. What I like about it is that it’s fitted.
So the Odyssey continued.
I looked through the patterns available in some recent Aran knitting books, including:
- Contemporary Irish Knits, by Carol Feller
- Aran Knits, by Martin Storey
- Aran Knitting, by Alice Starmore
Carol Feller almost sold me on knitting this neat looking zip up jacket from Contemporary Irish Knits, but I got scared off by the zipper. I’ve never done one before. The cables are scary enough on their own.
So I did some more looking.
My current front-runner is this tunic-style sweater called Irish Coffee by Thea Colman.
The original was knitted in Brooklyn Tweed Shelter worsted. I love the short sleeves and the cute neck shaping. With this yarn, I’ll definitely need to layer it over a long-sleeve shirt.
I haven’t cast on yet. The angel on my shoulder is still saying I should do a little more research to make sure this yarn is right for this project.
So what do you think? Have you ever knitted with Black Water Abbey yarn? What sort of pattern would you recommend?