I am one of those knitters who will fall in love with a pattern and then choose a yarn to go with it, similar to the suggested yarn in the pattern. Knitters like me can be recognized by our relatively small yarn stashes – we rarely buy yarn on impulse. But sometimes you find a yarn you simply must own. This happened to me early in the Summer, when I was visiting a local yarn shop while in the Netherlands – just to look you know.
It was a novelty yarn. A white cotton blend with a finer colored yarn wrapped around it, in a dark sand color. Gorgeous. One of those “looks so interesting you must know how it knits up, but hard to figure out how to use”- types of yarn. I never recommend that people buy novelty yarns without a specific project in mind. It is much harder to find a pattern to go with an unusual yarn. The shop had five 50 g balls in the color I wanted, and I bought all of them, hoping there would be enough for whatever I chose to create with it.
So, what do you do when you find yourself with a yarn you can’t wait to knit with, but you don’t have a pattern in mind? I decided early on that it was probably a good idea to make a shawl, knit sideways, possibly a triangle shawl. The advantage to knitting the shawl sideways is that you can knit and increase until you have used up half of the yarn, and then knit and decrease the rest of the way, safe in the knowledge that you have enough yarn to finish the project. You do not need to follow an exact pattern.
Whenever I need inspiration for what to do with a yarn, I turn to ravelry. I searched for my specific yarn, Katia Louisiana, to see what other knitters have used the yarn for. Unfortunately, there were very few projects with the yarn. Enough to give me an idea of what the knitted fabric would look like, but no dream pattern. Instead I searched for shawls of aran or worsted weight, and 400-600 yards. The ability to search for a specific yardage is absolute gold, when you have impulse shopped your yarn in a random quantity. I picked out a couple of favorite patterns to consider.
The yarn had so much going on, so I figured, I should select a simple stitch pattern, and simply let the yarn shine, rather than have a more complex lace pattern. I knit up a few swatches with different stitch combinations to see how it looked, and to figure out which needle size I liked with the yarn. I decided on a 4.5 mm (US 7) steel circular needle. I also learned that I really like how the yarn looked in a simple garter.
I left the yarn in my stash for a while, mulling it over, and then suddenly inspiration struck. I follow quite a few knitting YouTube channels, and one of them Expression Fiber Arts adds a video every Friday, demonstrating a detail of their latest pattern. The patterns are free for a few weeks, after which they are available for a reasonable price. I knew straight away that the Etude No 5 was the pattern for my Katia Louisiana yarn. A simple garter stitch shawl with a beautiful cable border knitted in a twisted rib. Perfect!
Of course, nothing is ever perfect. The pattern required 3 hanks of their suggested yarn, corresponding to a little less than double of what I had. The suggested yarn was a lighter weight than my yarn, making it difficult to infer what yardage I might need. I used my swatch in garter stitch from earlier to estimate how much yarn I would need, and to compare my gauge to that of the pattern. Long story short, I found out I did indeed need more yarn. Finding extra yarn of a limited badge novelty yarn, more than a year old, is no easy task, but I found 2 extra skeins in a German Ebay store, WolleWelten, who had surprisingly cheap and fast intercontinental shipping. I will have to shorten the middle portion of the shawl a little, but it should be enough to make a decent shawl.
You can buy the pattern here for $ 5.