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  • Writer's pictureSarah Matthess

Knit your hand-spun yarn

Adriafil was started in 1911 as a small spinning mill in Italy. They now produce a 6 monthly knitting patterns magazine called “Dritto & Rovescio”, out of which I adapted this pull-over. The pattern, called 'Nala' is available on Ravelry

Firstly a little about the pattern. Its super-simple and listed in their book as 'beginner'. Knitting up on 7mm needles, its a quick-knit. Offered in small, medium, large and extra large. Knitted in 2 pieces, front and back, with sleeves knitted separately and stitched on when making up the garment. The yarn 'Scozia' (now discontinued) that this pattern is designed for, is a very soft bulky yarn. It comes in 50g balls, around 67 yards per 50g ball.

I wanted a fairly mindless knitting project for down-time knitting but I wanted something that would show off some of my own hand-spun yarn. I have a lot of complicated knitting patterns and I enjoy a challenge and something that taxes my skills, but sometimes we just want a doctors-office type project that we can yank out a bag and fill in a few minutes with.

Instead of purchasing the Scozia yarn, I spun up 600grams at approx. 100yards per 100g, and knitted this pattern on 7.5mm needles with some changes to the pattern. Using the jumbo flyer, middle speed, on my Kromski Symphony wheel, this spun up nicely with not too much twist. It's hard to do the 'long-draw' method when spinning yarn that has other fibres incorporated as this one does because when the rolag or carded sliver is drawn out quickly, the smaller additional fibres that are usually shorter, will become the weak spot in the yarn, so slower more careful spinning is required.

A close look at this yarn will show there's a mix of fibres in with the wool. I drum carded around 40% organic merino dyed with ferns, and 40% light grey shetland dyed with nettles, and added in around 20% mix of recycled sari silk (rainbow colours), white tussah silk, and just a hint of cotton dyed with walnut shells. I love the khaki colours of nettle dye, and the ferns gave a slightly lighter green. As the merino and shetland were pre-carded before blending, I didn't over-blend them, just added them into the batt fairly randomly, so areas of both fibres can be seen.

Blended together, the over all smell of this yarn is from the ferns. If you have ever taken a walk in the woods on a wet Spring morning, the ferns throw up a scent very subtle and sweet. This has been transferred to this yarn although its very subtle, and if you didn't know that's what it was, you might not realise! Over all this is a very soft 2 ply yarn. You can click on that link to see this same yarn for sale in my etsy shop whilst stocks last.

So now to my pattern adaptations. I 'joined' the back and front together and knitted this on double pointed needles. Where the 'join' should have been, I knitted a cable twist all the way up.

Secondly, I knitted the front and back ribbing on straight needles, and then joined them into the round at the beginning of the body, producing a split up the side of the ribbing so it would lie flat. I also knitted the back ribbing longer than the front ribbing, so it would hang down longer.

One other adaptation was to knit this as a sleeveless pull over rather than a sweater with long sleeves as the pattern shows. This is quite a simple change to make, although I did not want to knit the fronts and backs without some shaping round the arm holes, so I cast off 5 stitches either side of the opening for the arm hole, and then 1 stitch on each side, every alternate row for 2 more rows after that. The pattern is for a drop shoulder design with no arm hole shaping which works when there are sleeves added, but doesn't look so good as a sleeveless design.

Last but not least, I added an inch on the length over all because I like my garments a little longer.

Simple knitting patterns work well with interesting yarns. They tend to showcase the yarn. I feel this pattern works well in that respect because there are areas of garter stitch and areas of stocking stitch all the way through.

Also, because the yarn was on the bulky side at 100yards per 100g, the sleeveless option works well because there's no bulk under the arms. This is going to be a really warm layering addition this coming winter, over a long sleeved cotton flannel shirt, for gardening and walking. The sky is the limit on a pattern like this as any type of yarn or colour design could be worked in.

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