Knitting Notes, Project Ideas

One Yarn, Two Sweaters (both pink) and a World Of Knitting Possibilities

It’s pretty safe to say that I’m obsessed with Loopy Mango’s new worsted-weight yarn, Merino Worsted.  In the past couple months I’ve made two sweaters with it.  Yes, they were both pink.

My Kiki in Spicy Hot Pink

My first foray into Merino Worsted was Kiki, a spicy hot pink open cardigan that is covered in cables.  Pattern courtesy of the Cocoknits Method, the sweater is all the things I want to be: complex, bright, warm, cozy and comforting.  I worked with this super soft 100% merino wool on a US7 needle to get gauge of 18 stitches/4”.  Pretty typical for a worsted-weight yarn and pretty predictable (and amazing) results.  I found Merino Worsted to be incredibly easy to work with.  It’s constructed just like it’s big sister, Merino No. 5, with a thin thread twisted around a smooth, roving core.  

Rhinebeck Sweater
the Rhinebeck Sweater from Loopy Mango

During our recent Loopy Mango Trunk Show and book signing, we were busy enough that I didn’t get to try on all the samples, but I did try on the Rhinebeck Sweater.  Loopy Mango’s Rhinebeck Sweater pattern came out with the release of the yarn back in the summer, and it never really appealed to me.  Since I didn’t “get it”, I wanted to see what it was all about in person.  

Once I tried it on I’d decided my next project then and there.  The Rhinebeck Sweater was soft and light, with an open neckline and a soft drape that started at the neck and carried all the way down.  I picked up six skeins in bubble gum picked and cast on the following Monday.

My Rhinebeck Sweater before blocking: it was a cropped length and voluminous

By Saturday I was finishing the sweater.  You knit up your Rhinebeck Sweater on a US19 (unless you’re a loose knitter like me who went down a needle size) and the knitting goes quickly.  At first it felt just plain wrong to work with a worsted-weight yarn on these big fat needles, but it was surprisingly comfortable and I quickly got used to it.  The body is knit bottom-up in one piece, split at the underarms with the front and back worked separately.  Then you knit the sleeves.  Once the sleeves are complete you join all three pieces and knit a few rounds for the neckline.  

I bound off somewhat loosely for the neckline and seamed up the sleeves (not too tight on this seaming!) When I tried on the sweater I looked like a big piece of cotton candy.  The sleeves were at my elbows and the yarn had a lot of loft and body – so much so that it floated around me like a cloud rather than draped.  

Since this was dramatically different than the sample I tried on, I knew my pink Rhinebeck Sweater needed one thing: blocking.  I plunged my new pink baby in the bath and let the blocking do its magic.  After squeezing out as much water as I could, I laid it flat to dry without blocking pins, just in the general shape.  I came back 10 hours later and it was dry.  Oh, and it was everything I imagined it would be.  

My Rhinebeck Sweater after blocking: relaxed, hangs closer to the body with beautiful drape

Everything about the sweater draped and relaxed, and instead of looking like it had a mind of its own, it looked like the lovely, feminine sweater I remember from the trunk show.  Blocking let this sweater become the sweater it was supposed to be, and it only took an extra day to get it there.

All of the teachers and staff at Wool & Grace know the importance of blocking.  So often, when a knitter shows us a “mistake” it’s just an awkward stitch.  It just needs to relax and find its happy place, and blocking is that magical process that allows it to get there.  I’m a firm believer in wet-blocking as it lets most yarn bloom and relax.  If you’re in a pinch, you can spritz with water and lay flat (or pin into place) or you can steam block it.  

The other reason I wanted to compare and contrast my knitting experience with these two sweaters is to show how versatile this yarn is with respect to gauge.  It was automatic for me to assume that Merino Worsted would step up and perform well for my Kiki cardigan.  It is, by all appearances, a very straightforward worsted-weight yarn (that just so happens to come in amazing colors).  I was surprised that it really does perform beautifully at a gauge of 10 stitches/4” (on that US19 needle).  

After I finished my Kiki, it was obvious that this yarn would be a great choice at a gauge of 16 stitches or 14 stitches over 4”, a gauge more typical to chunky or bulky yarn.  My mind started to run with the possibilities with this yarn.  Given its softness and its bright and happy color palette, I think this will be a great yarn choice for gifts.  (And at $12/ball, it makes those hand knitted gifts easy on your pocket book).

Here are some the projects I want to cast on in this fabulous new yarn:

Sweaters like the Felix Pullover, Carbeth or Turtle Dove.

These designs have been hugely popular – they’re all pieces that are relatively easy to wear.  They’re also easy to knit, and totally appropriate “First Sweater” projects.  All three of these sweaters are knit at a gauge of 14 stitches/4” – typical bulky weight.  At this gauge, these sweaters will be have some drape which will lend a nice, feminine look.  

Hats that have texture and and color

Traveling Cable Hat
Traveling Cable Hat by Purl Soho

Because of my Kiki knitting experience, I know this yarn has amazing stitch definition.  I’d pick up two balls of this to make a Traveling Cable Hat, one of my favorite projects to knit from Purl Soho.  The thick, rich cables of this hat are mesmerizing to knit and striking to wear.  

Pick some simple color-work like Streelymade Designs Flying Geese Hat or do something with more complexity like Stephen West’s Brio Garter hat.  Either way, it’ll be delightful to wear something so soft, so warm, and popping with color on a cold winter day.

Scarves, Cowls or Wraps

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Slope by Regina Moessmer

Given that Merino Worsted is so easy to use, it’s an easy yarn to consider for any of your favorite accessories projects.  I love the soft cables that just look like ripples in Regina Moessmer’s Slope scarf.

Zig and Zag
Zig & Zag by Foggyknits

Foggy Knits’ Zig and Zag is a fun way to play with color, especially with Merino Worsted’s amazing palette, and it’ll make a super warm cowl. 

All I Want
All I Want by Joji Locatelli

Go big and wrap yourself up in a ton of this knitted goodness.  I’d use Merino Worsted to knit up Joji Locatelli’s All I Want.  This large  triangular wrap has a subtle lace pattern and a block of color on the edge, and Merino Worsted will perform beautifully with a project like this.

All of those amazing Loopy Mango patterns

Of course, Loopy is known for their easy and wearable patterns that come free, straight from your favorite LYS (you know which one I’m talking about) with purchase of yarn.  

Rhinebeck Cardigan
Rhinebeck Cardigan from Loopy Mango

I’m trying very hard to control my urge to cast on the Rhinebeck Cardigan.  This project was hugely popular at the recent Loopy Mango trunk show.  It’s easy to knit and wear.  It comes in 3 sizes and has optional pockets.  Plus, it’s really cute.

Throughout the trunk show I kept wrapping myself up in their Easy Wrap.  This large wrap uses 6 balls of Merino worsted and is knit up on a US19 needle.  It was like your perfect travel wrap.  You can wrap it around your body like a blanket, but because it’s knit at a loose and light gauge, you can easily double it around your neck without it feeling like its smothering you.  If 6 balls sounds like too much, check out the Easy Scarf.  Same idea, just smaller.  Oh, and they’re called Easy for a reason: they’re easy peasy to knit, perfect for even the newest knitters.

Vertical Stripe
Vertical Stripe Hat from Loopy Mango

The Vertical Stripe hat looks like brioche, but it’s not.  It’s just a two-color rib, alternating colors with your stitches, but it looks very cool and much more complicated than it actually is.  Fun to knit, this is also a great gift project.  Plus it comes in adult and baby sizes, so you can knit up a coordinating set for a baby/parent duo with just two balls of yarn!

Thanks for hanging in there with me as I process my obsession with this yarn.  I love it.  I love the color, I love its softness and I love the versatility of it.  Do you have a project in mind and not sure if Merino Worsted will work?  Chances are the answer is yes, but you can always stop by to ask and we’ll help you figure it out!

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