Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Yarn, a Building and a New Scarf

Recently I've been swatching and experimenting with a new-ish yarn from Classic Elite Yarns called Cerro. It's the dyed version of the naturally-colored cotton/alpaca blend Canyon. Initial reaction: buy it and use it.

First, the look -- a sport weight yarn, Cerro comes in a variety of more muted, dusty colors. Canyon has a smaller variety of similarly-hued natural colors. Unlike some other yarns with both dyed/undyed versions, Cerro and Canyon work well together. There is a very slight sheen to the yarn, more like eggshell-finish paint than satin finish. In other words, not flat. The yarns capture and reflect light just enough to be very interesting. 

Second, the feel -- I haven't used a cotton/alpaca blend before and I'm hooked. Soft like cotton and smooth like fine alpaca, there are no fly aways or fluff. I did have a little trouble splitting the plies if I was a little too careless, but nothing that was unmanageable. A quick unknitting and fixing the split stitch was all that I needed to do to fix it and, unlike other splitty yarns, once I fixed it, the plies settled back into each other and there were no remnants of the error. (Other yarns, the split ply stays a little more stretched out.)

I swatched with several different sizes of needles before settling on a project. At US4, US 5 and US6, the yarn behaves well and maintains excellent drape. It was never too stiff. Using a US7, larger than the yarn band suggests, is perfect for a lace scarf and the feel is perfect for close to the neck wear. I'm not an expert, but I also think the alpaca lends itself to blocking and helps prevent the cotton from being too heavy.

And now for the part where I can't think of a good transition so we just switch to another semi-related topic:

Masonic Temple
Hale Street and Virginia Street, Charleston, WV

Temple Windows Scarf
There is a building at the corner of Hale and Virginia Streets in downtown Charleston, WV with (to me) very beautiful architectural details. I've lived in this town for a long time and didn't really know what the building was, if it had a name, etc. I just know I like it. I love the arches and the points at the windows and at the top of the building. A quick search online and I now know it's the Masonic Temple of Charleston. Who knew that was a real thing? (I only thought Masons were only a plot in "National Treasure.")

I took the shapes of the arches, the long windows, the points and melded them all together and sketched out a lace pattern to highlight Cerro. Last weekend, I finished, washed and blocked the scarf and I'm very pleased with the results. In the preview picture (in black and white because I was experimenting with the camera on my phone and didn't save the original), I hope you can see the arches, the points and the way they work together that might have been inspired by the Masonic Temple.

I'm very pleased with the end result. There are garter stitch columns between the lace "windows", adding just a little extra texture but not overpowering the lace. And the lace is fairly simple - plain purl rows on the back and many of the right side rows are the same (shifted to the side by half a repeat), so once you are familiar with the stitch pattern, you only need to refer to the chart once in a while to make sure you're on track.

The pattern for Temple Windows is now available on Ravelry! I think it's something you'll like and I definitely suggest you try Classic Elite Yarns Cerro; it's a wonderful yarn and feels so nice. Even though my finished scarf is an orchid pink/purple color, I'll definitely be wearing it this winter before it gets so cold that I default to heavy wools.

Through July 31, 2014, buy Temple Windows for and receive 30% off! (No coupon code needed.)