Project Ideas

In La La Land with Laine

Laine has set a high bar for knitting mags.  I’ve written before that it’s really more than just a knitting magazine  – it’s a quarterly published tome that exalts the work of those who make things by hand.  For me, I find myself unable to dive into praise when looking at other knitting mags or pattern collections in the way that I used to.  When I open Laine, I feel completely engrossed and transported.  Laine is so good, it has made its competition seem… less so.  

brioche buddies 3
from Laine Issue 7

As preview pics were coming out for this issue I heard a voice in my head saying things like “There’s no chance it’ll be as good as Issue 4,” dismissing what I was seeing as it danced across the screen of my phone or my computer.  But then Issue 7 arrived, and once again I was in another land with Laine.

Reading Laine really is a multi-sensory experience.  It’s a nice heavy issue, with smooth and sturdy pages that smell like really yummy… paper.  As soon as I opened this issue I fell right into it (and I didn’t want to get up).  It’s hard to know where to start, and it was hard to edit list of favorites.  Beyond the beautiful patterns, there are the recipes (mouthwatering chocolate plum cake and snack-worthy “root crisps”), a London Travel Guide, a book list of knitting-related books from knitting-world people and profiles of Veera Valimaki and Annie Rowden.  But let’s talk patterns, because more than anything Laine helps us fantasize about all the beautiful things we are going to knit.  


Have you ever wondered what would happen if Stephen West and Nancy Marchant had a baby?  Marchant (the grande dame of the brioche stitch) collaborated with West (the man who turned brioche on its head) to bring you Brioche Buddies.  This wrap comes in two sizes and combines Marchant’s signature stitch with West’s clever construction.  The result is a zig zag of brioche, garter and i-cord and comes together in a way that looks like ocean waves or a DNA helix.  The pattern description makes its construction sound a bit tedious in all the right ways.  I’ve given the pattern a good once over and it’s clear that it requires that you read it all in advance before you jump in.  I also like that you’re working long, skinny sections of the work rather than knitting across hundreds of stitches for each row.  I love this project and am totally intrigued by it, can you tell?  Use a fingering or sport-weight yarn for this project – there are so many to choose from.  Part of me wants to do it in some straight-up colors like Loft, Peerie or Birch, while another part of me wants to be crazy with some Baah La Jolla or Tosh Merino Light.  When it comes to a project like this, all answers are correct.


There are a bunch of big wraps in this issue, and the other one I love is Rambla by Jonna Hietala.  Part of me loves that this electric purple wrap stands out from all of the earthy tones that dominate the issue.  I also love that it is straightforward: it’s just a combination of ribbing that shifts one way and the other throughout the project.  Where Brioche Buddies is tricky, Rambla is simple.  It’s still a little off-kilter and that gives it great texture.  I would love to see this knit up in the semi-solid tones from Baah’s La Jolla or Tosh Merino Light.  We also have some exquisite yarn from Anzula on the way (it’ll be worth the wait) that would make a luscious Rambla.  That said, any fingering-weight yarn is going to make its mark on this beautiful piece.  


Laemmin is a cool, textured vest that is seriously speaking to me.  Everything about this looks easy: straight forward to knit and easy to wear.  It’s knit in one piece with an i-cord edging along the fronts, joined at the shoulders and a picked-up, ribbed collar.  There’s an interesting scroll-like detail at the small of the back that is eye-catching but subtle.  I am seeing this first and foremost knit up using HiKoo’s Kenzie.  Kenzie blooms beautifully and in a way that will give the double-seed stitch something extra.  I also think this would be lovely in Shepherd’s Wool or Shelter.  


There’s some incredible color-work in this issue.  Ambitious knitters should take a look at Carol Feller’s Bohus (a nod to the Swedish Bohus knitting collective) and Kristen Drysdale’s Marit.  Marit is all-over stranded color-work and every detail has been attended to on this classic cardigan.  It’s a show-stopper and fittingly the last pattern in the issue.  

Talla 1

That said, my favorite color-work piece is Talla, a thick and squishy cowl of mosaic-knitting throughout.  I like Talla because I think it’s feasible that any number of our knitters could make it.  Talla is a thick and warm cowl in the same way that the Val Cowl is: it’s worked in a tube with double strands of yarn, the beginning and end joined together to create the loop of the cowl.  This is another project that calls for fingering weight yarn, and there’s a lot of room for fun with this color-work.  Try working with a combination of yarns, including Shibui’s Birch or Staccato, Brooklyn Tweed’s Peerie or Loft, Baah’s La Jolla, and Tosh Merino Light to name a few.  


Apricite is the sleeper-hit for me.  I was underwhelmed seeing the preview pics of this piece, but reading the magazine and looking closely at it has made me want to snuggle up with this sweater.  Kiyomi Burgin’s sweater calls for a dk-weight yarn held with a lace-weight yarn like Silk Cloud.  I think using something like Dromedary, Rustic Tweed, Sueno or Criative DK would be interesting yarns to couple with Silk Cloud.  I also think you could make a beautifully snuggly version of this using a worsted-weight yarn.  Once again, I think it’d be gorgeous using HiKoo’s Kenzie (which blooms to give you a subtle, natural fuzz).  Katia’s Cotton Merino is another no-brainer which would give this sweater a soft fuzz and a bit of drape to make it incredibly cozy and lovely.  


I could wax on about every pattern in this issue, but you’d get tired of me after a while.  There’s a lot more to see, like Calla – a triangular shawl with a cable detail that looks just like a Calla Lily.  There are three other beautiful sweaters that I didn’t have time to mention, that will no doubt beckon you with their cozy appeal.  I hope you’re intrigued enough to stop by and pick up this issue for yourself.  You’ll see why it’s so easy to fall in love with Laine, and I’m pretty sure it’ll love you back.  

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