Knitting Notes, Project Ideas

Fall 2019 Super Bulky Favorites

We’re back with super-bulky yarns, with new colors of old favorites (fun, punchy colors of Rasta are here from Malabrigo) and we have a brand new coffee table book from Loopy Mango with several of their most popular knitting patterns (and a few new patterns exclusive to the book)!  There’s a bunch of reasons to love these big fat yarns, and there’s a reason for that extra appeal at this time of year!

For one,  the weather is starting to change (I swear, it is!) and people start wanting to make hats, cowls and mitts.  Super bulky yarns like Rasta, Merino No. 5 and Ushya quickly and reliably knit up into these cold weather accessories.

As our knitting classes start back up, we have a new crop of newbie knitters, and some of our super bulky standards (like a Vermonter Hat or a Rasta Fasta Cowl) help beginners learn knitting basics in a relatively quick project.  We love the boost of confidence that goes along with knitting up something beautiful and useful so early in your knitting adventures.

I love super bulky projects as gifts, especially for friends and teachers.  Using such gorgeous fibers (all of our super bulky yarns are heavenly!) transforms projects that are otherwise quite simple.  Not only am I making something lovely and useful, but it doesn’t take a ton of my time.   Let’s agree to not tell those gift recipients that we are able to bang out these gifts without much effort – let’s just focus on the fact that we put a ton of love into it! 

Lastly, I love a super bulky project as a diversion from a time consuming project that’s stuck on my needles.  Even though I’ve been knitting for years, I need the thrill that goes along with that burst of creativity, especially if I’m in the trenches with a large sweater or shawl.

Putting all of this together, super bulky projects let us enjoy some knitting successes –  small-scale time commitments with large-scale results makes for feel-good knitting.

If you’ve been a part of our Wool & Grace family for the last year or more, you know favorites like The Vermonter Hat or those great basics from Loopy Mango like Her Beanie or Her Sweater.  For this blog, I’m going to turn my attention to some new and different patterns that will give you those same feel-good-knitting-vibes. 

If you read this blog, you probably know that I’ve lately been drawn to the super bulky patterns from Tara-Lynn Morrison.  Her Strathcona Sweater and Moosonee Sweater are a couple examples of sweaters that I’ve been interested in knitting.  I like these for many of the same reasons I like Loopy Mango’s sweaters: you get to knit a sweater on a super bulky scale, and this means it goes fast.  Morrison’s patterns are seamless and top-down, so new knitters can start to learn about seamless sweater construction – and they can do it with much fewer stitches than with a worsted-weight sweater.  I also like how these sweaters fit: their raglan construction will sit softly on the shoulders and they’ll drape differently than the seamed Loopy patterns.  What’s more, Morrison discusses how to customize the sweater for fit in the patterns description and the pattern itself.  I think it’s really powerful to experience this flexibility early in your knitting journey – to see how easy it is to modify a pattern! 

Given this customization, it’s easy to pick ANY super bulky yarn for the project.  Ravelry users have knit up sweaters like Strathcona in yarns like Rasta and Mohair So Soft already, but it would be feasible to knit it up Merino No. 5, Spuntaneous, Ushya or the new Vivace

Cover
the On Point Tunic on the cover of Loopy Mango Knitting

The On Point Tunic is a new pattern from Loopy Mango and exclusive to their new book, Loopy Mango Knitting.  It’s a very cute, oversized garter stitch sweater with a hit of color.  This is easy knitting and the result is a lot of look: cozy, oversized and warm in all the right ways.

Meir
Meri by Jonna Heitala

Similar to the On Point Tunic is Jonna Hietala’s Meri.  The look is the same, but the big difference is that Meri is knit up using top-down seamless construction.  Meri is also written in various sizes.  At the end of this blog, I’ll make note of all of our favorite super bulky yarns (all would work for Meri), but I think it’d be particularly nice to knit this sweater using Mirasol’s Ushya.  This super bulky yarn is a bit lighter and I think it’ll stretch less with the garter stitch- and weigh less when finished! 

Last week’s blog mentioned Lavanya Patricella, and I’m returning to her patterns because I love that she has combined super bulky yarn with simple patterns to introduce knitters to the brioche stitch.  If this term is new to you, the brioche stitch is a type of ribbing that uses yarn-overs to create a very three-dimensional, airy fabric that is REALLY squishy.  It’s also incredibly striking when worked in two colors. Patricella has written a “Beginners Brioche” pattern for a scarf and a hat (the Beginners Brioche Hat and the Beginners Brioche Scarf).  Brioche can be intimidating for some knitters, and I think this is a great place to start for so many reasons.  Like all super-bulky projects, you’ll be introduced to this technique on a small, fast project.  Also, these super-bulky yarns are all “sticky”, so that if you drop a stitch or make a mistake, it’s a little easier to back out or fix it with these yarns.  While my mind spins with great color combos in Rasta and Merino No. 5, I really want to make the hat using a combination of Vivace  from Cloud 9 Fibers.  I’d use a solid for the main color and a variegated color way for the contrast color.  Maybe you’ll all get lucky and I’ll knit one up by the time Friday’s newsletter goes out!

Another fun way to play with super bulky color is the Big Zig Beanie from flynnknits.  This simple color work motif is so much fun, and the designer posts a bunch of color combos so you can easily envision how great this hat will look using bright solids or hand-dyed colors.  Once again, don’t be afraid to dabble in new techniques (in this case, stranded color-work) on this small and quick project.  Plus, a stranded hat knit in a super bulky yarn will be very warm!  You can tone this down using straightforward hues from Spuntaneous or Ushya, or have a color adventure with Merino No. 5 or Rasta.

pile of knitted gifts
a pile of knitted gifts, including my blue Red Rasta Cowl for my stepmother (upper left)

Several years ago when I first met my dad’s then-new wife, she told me about how sensitive her skin was and how she couldn’t wear wool after I had knit a cowl for her using Malabrigo’s Rasta.  I gave the cowl to her anyway, and called me a few weeks later raving about 1) how much she loved it 2) how soft it was 3) how she wore it all the time and 4) how her daughter asked for one.  Since then, I haven’t hesitated about making quick cowls as gifts for anyone and everyone. 

I love Cathryn Johnson’s Twist of Fate Cowl (above left) for its striking cable texture or Sarah Sprung’s World’s Fastest Cowl (above right) for its simple texture.  The latter cowl is great for beginner knitters to learn about keeping track of their patterns and learning to read their stitches!  Meanwhile, flynnknits’ Sprial Up Cowl (pictured below) is a fun way to play with color and knit a super warm cowl all at once.

Spiral It Up Cowl
Spiral Up Cowl by flynnknits

There’s an abundance of amazing patterns for super bulky yarn out there, and a simple search on Ravelry will give you TONS of ideas.  That said, here are some of our delicious super bulky yarns available at Wool & Grace:

Spicy Hot Pink
Loopy Mango’s Merino No. 5 (in my favorite color)

Merino No. 5: Loopy Mango’s signature yarn is notable for its signature colors and the fact that it effortlessly knits up into very cool looking hand knits.  I have an addiction to their Spicy Hot Pink color, and I’m totally ok with that.

Rasta Group
Malabrigo Rasta

Rasta: Malabrigo’s super bulky hand-dyed yarn is incredibly soft and requires very little effort to knit up into something that is beautiful and one of a kind.  Our knitters have knit up thousands of Vermonters with this gorgeous yarn.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Spuntaneous

Spuntaneous: Cascade’s singly-ply super bulky comes in straightforward colors that are commonly used for knitting up collegiate colored hats or big and comfy blankets.

Ushya
Mirasol’s Ushya

Ushya: this unique super bulky yarn from Mirasol is made with a chainette construction.  This makes it lighter than many of its super bulky peers.  It’s chainette construction also makes it less prone to pilling or shedding. 

Vivace Group
Vivace from Cloud 9 Fibers

Vivace: this thick & thin yarn from Cloud 9 Fibers comes in solids and variegated color-ways, which makes it particularly fun to mix together for some of these projects like the Big Zig Beanie, the Spiral it Up Cowl or the Beginners Brioche pieces from Lavanya Patricella. 

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