Every year or two it seems, there is a trendy yarn that is everywhere right before the holidays, usually tied in with a beginner-level scarf or hat pattern that utilizes said yarn in a fast project that can be mass-produced very quickly for gift giving. For example, the last major yarn trend was ruffle yarn and all its variations, before that ribbon yarn, fun fur, eyelash, the list goes on. My nonconformist nature, as well as my inner bargain seeker, usually does not allow me to purchase these trendy yarns until the fad has faded and they land on the clearance rack. When I do buy novelty yarns, rather than make the project they are intended for, I try to use the them in unconventional ways. So last year’s ruffle yarns became the ruffles on some tutu-style skirts for Baby Girl and her cousins.
In my travels around the local big-box craft stores this season, I’ve noticed that yarn companies have released a number of very thick, ropelike yarns this year, and they seem to be made for arm or finger knitting. I am not sure what I think about the current trend of knitting without needles in these ways, which I always considered a child’s pastime, sort of similar to Cat’s Cradle. I do, however, love these chunky, lofty yarns, and have been experimenting with using them to create accessories. One of the cool things about them is that they are thick but not very heavy, so not hard to work with, even using larger-than-usual tools.
I have a couple of giant crochet hooks, and some really big knitting needles, and these can be a lot of fun to use, especially as a break from my sock knitting adventures, which usually involve tinier than tiny needles or hooks. One of the things I’ve recently loved making with the great big needles are some neckpieces inspired by the television series “Outlander”. (If you haven’t seen the show, I recommend it to all knitters – every episode, the heroine has another lovely knitted piece, most of them in big stitches.) Here’s one I did in a bulky wool held double, on straight needles:
This cowl incorporates a condominium stitch as well as a double-yarnover drop stitch, to achieve the big texture. I’m in love with the oversized wood button, which is actually a purse finding, and costs considerably less than smaller buttons of a similar type found in the sewing notions aisle. To create the button loop, I worked a 4 stitch i-cord on smaller needles and sewed it into a loop at the same time as I seamed the piece. The whole thing is big and stretchy enough to wear doubled, over the shoulders as a wrap, or over the head as a hood.
I’ve done several versions of this piece in different colors and fibers, and really like the way each of them have turned out. I think the combination of condo and drop stitches is worth exploring further, perhaps in some smaller neckpieces or even as a shrug. I’m currently also creating another cowl in a plain stockinette that looks really pretty in these great big stitches. Looking at the sale papers, I see that some different brands of super bulky yarn are being discounted at my local craft stores in the next week, and so I suppose I’ll be doing some more work with my size 35 needles and my Q hook.