Thursday, February 20, 2014

Mixing It Up.

It's no secret I'm a huge fan of Shibui's yarns. According to Ravelry, I've completed ten projects with their yarns, including Heichi (worsted weight raw silk), Staccato (fingering weight super wash merino and silk blend), Silk Cloud (lace weight mohair and silk blend), Linen, Merino Alpaca (worsted weight merino and alpaca blend) and - most recently - Pebble (a lace weight silk, merino and cashmere blend).

Four of these projects feature "mixes" - holding together multiple strands of one or more yarns. Admittedly I've become slightly obsessed with the whole idea of blending the different fibers and textures to create the perfect "yarn" for a project. One of my favorite mix-ins is Silk Cloud. I added it to Heichi for Garance (project details here) and to Staccato and then Merino Alpaca for two Mix No. 9's (project details here and here). Something about that silky mohair, with its fine halo and shimmery core, takes a beautiful yarn and makes it truly stunning. It also plumps up…so instead of knitting with a fingering weight, it's DK, or instead of worsted, it's aran. And that means fewer stitches per inch, resulting in quicker projects.

my Mix No. 9 - Staccato and Silk Cloud
I knit Mix No. 9 for the first time last winter as part of our knit-along. I followed the pattern as written, holding together one strand each of Staccato and Silk Cloud (to make a DK gauge). I'm not gonna lie…it was a lot of knitting (nearly 900 yards on size 7 needles). But it was most definitely worth it. The finished piece is beautiful, wearable, warm (it's gotten lots of use this year!) and stylish. My daughter has borrowed it multiple times, but when I offered to knit one for her but she said "no". She wants to knit it for herself … someday (yes, it's a lot of knitting!)!!
can you see the halo and the shine from the Silk Cloud?
Ah…but she needs the cowl now! So I tweaked the pattern a bit and used a chunkier mix (Merino Alpaca and Silk Cloud, which knits up at an aran gauge), bigger needles (size 10), fewer stitches and a lot less knitting! I was delighted with the project (you can see all the details on my Ravelry page here); and she loves it, too!
her Mix No. 9 - Merino Alpaca and Silk Cloud

Heichi and Silk Cloud would be perfect for another chunky version. I'd suggest size 9 needles and a few more stitches. But if you don't mind all the knitting, I think Pebble and Silk Cloud would be stunning. That mix knits up to a DK weight (which is what the pattern suggests), but I'd still go up a needle size to an 8, and reduce the stitches just a bit.

In summary, here are suggested alternate mixes, skeins, needle and stitch counts. Follow the pattern as written except for these changes (and feel free to ask if you have questions!)

  • Merino Alpaca (4 skeins) and Silk Cloud (2 skeins) - size 10 needle; 52 stitches.
  • Heichi (5 skeins) and Silk Cloud (2 skeins) - size 9 needle; 56 stitches
  • Pebble (4 skeins) and Silk Cloud (3 skeins) - size 8 needle; 64 stitches
Have you tried mixing it up? Which mixes are your favorites? and which ones do you want to try?

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