Laine’s Issue 9 arrives to stores today, and many of us in the fiber community are aware of the uncertain future of this publication. I began by reading the editor’s letter which Jonna Hietala titles “Confessions of a Broken Mind” and discusses living with bipolar disorder and its recent impact on her mental state. I read this letter with so much empathy, gratitude and admiration. For my own reasons, mental health is a topic of great importance and I deeply respect anyone with the courage to start that conversation, especially in a public arena. There’s so much appreciate in this short letter. As makers, we all experience cycles of creativity and stagnation and we can relate – in some way – to Hietala’s current trials. If nothing else, I hope you’ll read this letter and come away with more compassion and understanding toward all people, especially those who struggle with mental health issues.
Like usual, this issue has gorgeous patterns, interesting profiles and other tidbits to make you want to explore new places and try new things. There are also some obvious symbols that point to Hietala’s letter and general tone of the issue. All in all, we’re looking at another compilation of patterns and projects that bring comfort to the maker and the wearer.
Verena Cohrs’ Mökki oozes that comfort that is accessible to knit and wear. This is the type of sweater I gravitate toward for vacations – it’s the only sweater I’ll pack for a week in the mountains. It’s comfortable as can be as it’s made with seamless, top-down construction. It’s long enough to wear with legging or sweats when I wake up in the morning, but can be worn with jeans or any other pair of trousers, as well. The raglan shoulder tends to be universally flattering, and a subtle ribbed detail trails from the underarms to a split hem. Mökki is a relatively simple sweater, and it’s suitable for newer knitters. I want to knit this up in one of those workhorse yarns that will hold up to seamless construction like Shepherd’s Wool, Woolstok, Kenzie or newcomer Mary’s Tweed. At this gauge (20 stitches over 4”) you can also make it work with gorgeous yarns like Arbor or Kokon DK.
I like the introduction to Rachel Brockman’s Pinaceae. It’s described as the sort of sweater that we can see our mother or grandmother wearing, but at the same time, it’s all our own. Years ago my grandmother gave me a sweater that she hand knit for my grandfather – that she and he both wore. I’ve worn it for years, and it’s the sweater that made ME want to knit my own sweaters, so that introduction really speaks to me. When I make cabled pullovers I always think of it as a variation of what my grandmother gave me. Pinaceae fits the bill of that grandmother/grandfather sweater that is all my own. This classic cabled pullover gets a subtle update with its high/low hem. Otherwise its classic and totally wearable. Once again, great yarns for this one include all those lovey yarns I mentioned above for Mökki.
Woodbine is a really interesting pullover designed by Fiona Alice. It’s clever and unique construction requires you to turn your head in all different directions to figure it out. Sound tough? Perhaps, but it’s also good for you to change your perspective, so I think we should all give it a try. Alice makes her Woodbine with two tones of yarn, but I think I’d probably stick with one since it’s clever enough as it is (IMHO). That said, I’d first look to Stargazer Brushed for this project. I loved working with it back in August, and I’m quick to find other good places to play with this yarn. I think you want your Woodbine to be fuzzy (just like in Laine) so if you decide against Stargazer Brushed, consider the new Fusione from Lana Grossa or mixing some Shibui Silk Cloud or Tweed Silk Cloud with standard favorites like Shepherd’s Wool, Shelter, or Sueño Worsted.
There’s a great profile of designer Lavanya Patricella and this article took me on a fun detour. I’ve seen Patricella’s designs on Ravelry before, and she also has very remarkable and awesome hair. This lady is a brioche queen and her pattern in Laine, Pianta Di Grano, is a really accessible approach to a two-color brioche piece. That said, I returned to Ravelry to explore some of her designs, and I’ve decided to love on her Beginner’s Brioche Scarf. Why? Because I love it when someone takes something “tricky” or “difficult” and breaks it down so that we can successfully learn. Here, Patricella has us knit up a two-color brioche scarf using super-bulky yarn (in this case – Rasta – YUM!). Going back to Pianta di Grano, it’s a combo of brioche and garter (easy and to some, less than easy) and it can be knit up using two colors of fingering weight yarn. While Squishy, Tosh Merino Light and La Jolla are obvious, hand-dyed options here, I love how Brooklyn Tweed Loft makes brioche a little easier (because of its stickiness) and knits up so lofty in brioche.
Whitney Hayward’s Ramsay is another cabled pullover, this one boxy and therefore très comfortable and très stylish. This is one more sweater I’d love to make in Stargazer Brushed. I also think Blue Sky Extra is a good choice for this project, as it has gorgeous stitch definition. I love the drape Extra gets after blocking, and I think it’d give this boxy sweater a feminine edge to it. One more possibility is Fusione, a brand new yarn at Wool & Grace.
Winter Suns by Olga Buraya-Kefelian is a really beautiful shawl with some interesting color-work. It is written in two different sizes and there’s lots of room to play with your color choices. Buraya-Kefelian is a master of texture, and she has created some patterns and knitted pieces that are three-dimensional in ways that will boggle your mind. While Winter Suns is a tamer version of this, she brings in texture in a couple interesting ways. For one, the shawl is knit using a fingering-weight yarn for the main fabric and a DK-weight yarn for the sun motif. The color-work sun motif is knit using a type of mosaic knitting, but it incorporates long floats that typically doesn’t work with mosaic knitting. Of course, Buraya-Kefelian has figured out a way to defy the limits of knitting, and the result is a pattern that is absolutely unique and pretty darn attractive on the wrong side. When I look at this, I think it’d be lovely to work the background in a fingering weight yarn like Anzula Squishy, Peerie or Loft and choose Arbor or Kokon DK for the color-work motif. This pattern is introduced as a setting sun, and it’s fitting that it’s the last pattern featured in this issue of Laine.
It would not be just to overlook Jeanette Sloan’s essay at the very end of this issue. Sloan writes about her own lessons in mindfulness over several months, and a practice in which she and other participants went entire days without speaking. The essay has a number of sage observations, but one of my favorites is that “as individuals we must continually learn how to take care of ourselves.” I think this is a very fitting end to the issue that began with Hietala’s heart wrenching description of her own struggles in mental health. This issue has ideas, thoughts and messages that will resonate with all people, not just knitters. So I hope, if you have time, you’ll let yourself savor this taste of Laine.