Sunday, September 7, 2014

Presenting... the Ridgefield Wrap

Some months ago I embarked on a design project with Fibre Roads, a group of sheep and alpaca farmers in nearby Lanark County. Last spring the 60% alpaca/40% wool blend we decided on was spun into samples for me to play with by Donna Hancock of Wellington Fibres in Elora, ON. Imagine how exciting it is as a designer to have the opportunity to have a yarn custom spun! Then Janice, of Windblest Farm, dyed the sample skeins a rich slate. Here they are drying on a fine day early last spring.

My goal with this project was to come up with a design that would be flattering to a wide range of women, differing in both ages and shapes. I wanted a design that would be light and airy, so that the alpaca wouldn't weigh down the garment or make it too warm. Finally, I needed the garment to be reasonably simple to knit.
The stitch I chose is Barbara Walker's "Banded Insertion" pattern from her first Treasury. It involves nothing more complicated than garter stitch ridges alternating with stocking stitch valleys. The clever bit is that the valleys are worked on a needle three sizes larger than the ridges. The result is as close to lace as you can get without the use of any yarn overs.
The body is cast on provisionally at the centre back, then worked outwards until the sides are joined by 3-needle bind-off. The sleeve stitches are transferred to a small circular needle and worked out to the cuff, with the ridges gradually spaced at longer and longer intervals. 

Finally, the centre back is joined, and an I-cord border worked all the way around, with graceful scallops framing the neckline.

With Isabel away on an internship this summer, I asked Beckie, the owner of "Unraveled" in Merrickville to be my model. I'm afraid I sprung it on her unexpectedly, but she was a good sport as you can see here. In fact, I think she fell in love with the next-to-skin-soft fabric.

For now, this pattern is available only in kitted form with the Fibre Roads yarn, and those kits will go on sale for the first time next weekend (Sept. 13-14) at the Almonte Fibrefest in Lanark County, ON, through Windblest Farm, Victory Farm Alpacas, Silent Valley Alpacas, and Fortune Hill Farm. You should be aware that the number of kits is quite limited. I hope to get up there on Sunday. Hope to see you there too.
P.S. I've posted the pattern specs to Ravelry; at some point in the future, the pattern will be made available on its own with a suggested commercial yarn equivalent.
P.P.S. The lovely shawl pin you see here was also made locally by Francine of "Fancy That". Her Etsy shop is here.