For the love of handspun

Copper Cowl by Sara Lamb
Debbie O'Neill's Pilaster Socks
Susan Z. Douglas and Judy Alexander's Bond Bon-Bon Bowler

Knitters have so many fiber options these days, it's hard to choose! Every time I'm at a yarn shop I spend time ohhhing and ahhhing over the natural fibers. The sense of touch is amazing, isn't it? There's nothing like feeling something soft—a baby's cheek, a cat's fur, a skein of 100% alpaca!

Knitting with a soft, luscious fiber is such a pleasure, and feeling that fiber slip though your fingers from strand of yarn to knitted fabric is one of my favorite feelings.

Make that a handspun yarn and that feeling is really over the top! I have a wonderful collection of handspun, hand-dyed yarn, and it's sometimes hard for me to decide what to use them for. They're so beautiful in the skein, and I can dig my hands in whenever I want to! But I do want to knit them into items I can actually wear, so I'm always looking for really special patterns.

I've found three that I want to share with you, and they're specially designed for handspun yarn, by the spinners themselves. These three designs are featured in the new eMag SpinKnit.

The first is the stunning Copper Cowl by Sara Lamb. From SpinKnit: "Sara used spindles to spin yarn for a cowl that would insulate and be warm, but also be open enough to breathe through should the weather conditions require covering her mouth and nose. She hunted through her stitch dictionaries for a simple openwork pattern that could be worked in the round, then used an applied lace pattern for a stretchy and beautiful bottom edging."

I love the applied edging. You knit the edging onto the neck portion of the cowl, knitting a stitch from the edging and a stitch from the neck together in each row. I've knit hats this way, attaching the brim to the edging, but never a cowl. It's a great construction method to learn.

The second pattern is Pilaster Socks by Debbie O'Neill. From SpinKnit: "Given the challenge of designing a pair of sock with handspun yarn, Debbie's architecturally inspired footwear is perfectly balanced. Beginning at the toe, the socks can be made as long as the knitting desires (or yarn remains). Because yarn spun from handpainted top can be very colorful, she chose a punctuated cable pattern that would be easy to see but still interesting to knit. Shown here in a woman's size, the pattern would be suited for men as well."

I do love a unisex sock pattern that's not a simple K2/P2 rib, don't you?

Last but not least is Susan Z. Douglas and Judy Alexander's Bond Bon-Bon Bowler. From SpinKnit: "In her original pattern for Tops with a Twist, a collection of hansdpun hats selected in a 1999 Spin-Off contest, Susan Z. Douglas said, 'This hat reminds me of white chocolate candy.' With a cable that travels around the brim liked piped chocolate on a truffle, the hat was indeed 'good enough to eat.' With a few modifications, the hat is shown here as an almond-hued confection."

I absolutely love this design! I'm lining up my holiday knitting already and this hat is near the top of the list.

Get your hands on these patterns in the new issue of SpinKnit. You'll love putting those beautiful skeins of handspun to beautiful use.


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