Thursday 13 November 2014

Arabella scarf

Today sees the release of Knit Now magazine, issue 41, which contains my final third party publication for a bit, the Arabella scarf.

Arabella scarf. Image courtesy of Practical Publishing

The scarf is knitted in Malabrigo Rasta, a beautifully variegated super chunky weight yarn, and features a stitch pattern that combines both cables and some lace work. The scarf itself is huge and works perfectly for this season's blanket scarf trend, doubling up as a cardigan, scarf and potentially a coat; it's certainly warm enough! I love the way it's been styled by the Knit Now team, especially when worn as a cardigan and held in place with a belt. I was 8 months pregnant when I cast it off in the summer, and didn't manage to look quite so stylish!

Worn as a cardigan. Image courtesy of Practical Publishing.

The design isn't quite what I submitted earlier in the year. I had seen a cowl in Accessorise and adored the stitch pattern, it had just the right level of complexity and the shapes within the stitches were beautiful. However, I wasn't so keen on the colour or styling. So when I saw the call for submissions for this issue, I spent an afternoon reverse engineering the pattern and reinventing the pattern as a chunky cowl to fit in with the issue's theme 'Go big or go home'.

My original swatch
I gave the cowl the name Arabella after a friend's daughter; the friend lives in Switzerland where super-chunky items seem completely reasonable as they have proper winters over there. This friend has always been a great supporter of my knitting endeavours and her daughters have received several prototypes of my designs, so this design is in their honour as a thank you. I shan't name the friend here, she knows who she is.

After I had submitted the idea, I had an email from Kate (Heppell, editor of Knit Now) requesting that the design be re-imagined as a huge oversized scarf rather than a cowl, which I obviously said yes to. And the end result is beautiful, so I'm glad I said yes. The yarn looks amazing, and I love the variegation in the shades of blue, so a huge thank you to Malabrigo for supplying the yarn, their yarns had been on my wish list for a while, so I'm glad to have finally tried something by them out.

The point has been made though that not everyone can afford the yarn for this scarf; at £16.95 per 150 g skein (Love Knitting), 10 skeins is beyond many people's budgets. There are a couple of suggestions in the magazine on the amounts of yarn needed to make a smaller cowl or scarf, thus reducing the amount of yarn needed, so you can get away with using the luxury yarn without spending quite so much money.

However, as this scarf is not size-critical, using a substitute yarn is fairly straight-forward. My swatch was knitted in James C. Brett chunky with merino, and I loved how well-defined the stitches are. It's not a super-chunky weight yarn, so you might have to cast of a few more stitches, but the chart in the magazine makes it obvious how wide the repeat it, so just cast on an extra multiple and get knitting.

Essentially any super chunky yarn that takes your fancy could be used; I'd recommend something with a high wool content and plied for good stitch definition. A few options include Drops Andes, a wool/alpaca mix, which is a bargain at £3.90 per 100 g ball (Wool Warehouse, and Drops currently have a sale on their alpaca blend yarns with 25% off until the end of December, reducing the Andes to only £2.95 per ball); Drops Eskimo, which is a 100% wool single ply yarn (£1.70 for 50 g, Wool Warehouse); Stylecraft Life Super Chunky, a wool/acrylic mix, which is £2.99 for 100 g (Wool Warehouse); or Rico Essentials Big, another wool/acrylic mix, which comes in a fantastic array of colours (£3.49 for 50 g, Wool Warehouse).

All prices were correct on the date this blog was published. I have no affiliation with any of the stores mentioned; they are only included for sample price purposes.

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