Recently in Alpaca Rivolo Category

Finished Rivolo

Pattern: Rivolo
Yarn: Alpaca With a Twist, "Baby Twist" in the colorway "Bark"
Needles:4mm (US 6) Harmony Circular

This poor scarf has been completed for a little while, but lacked blocking because I was unable to find the long carpet runner that I use to block scarves and other long knitted items.  I'm heading to Ann Arbor this weekend so that we can treat Ms. Z to an Easter with her grandparents.  Since my aunt is also there it seemed like a good time to find where that carpet runner had gotten to and get the scarf blocked.

One of the only real decisions I faced for blocking this garment was how much to block out the lace.  This yarn is fuzzy and soft and even with aggressive blocking, the pattern is going to be more subtle.  So I opted to block it out so that the pattern had definition, but wasn't too stretched out.

20090407_RivoloPattern.jpgGiven that I had a pretty super-sized skein to work with, I knit far past the recommended number of repeats.  The scarf is somewhere northwards of 7 feet long so it's got potential for plenty of neck wraps -- which, given the softness of this yarn, it's going to call out for. 

I enjoyed knitting the Rivolo pattern.  The lace is simple and easy to memorize and it's the sort of pattern that will work well with a variety of yarns.  Most lace patterns I can knit once and pretty much be done with.  This one I could knit again.  And maybe I will, with the tencel-blend yarn from Briar Rose Fibers I originally bought to go with it!

A Long Meditation

Kind of amazing what a 50 mm lens can do for a simple scarf project.  And the color is pretty on, too.

As I talked about almost a month ago, I've been knitting one repeat on this project everyday.  I'm not quite sure how many repeats I've gotten to now, but I think, given the amount of yarn I have left, that I'm about 2/3 of the way through the project.  I'm definitely past the number of repeats suggested by the pattern, but in the interest of making sure that my aunt gets to enjoy as much baby alpaca as possible, I'm knitting on until the yarn runs out.

While I'm not sure I could do every project this way, there is something nice about telling myself -- limiting myself -- to stop after one repeat.  It forces me to put my normally very "product" knitter into the background and just enjoy the process of knitting the one repeat I "get" to do.  In the end, it hasn't really been an all that meditative project because I usually work on it before dinner while watching Z race around or while listening to her splash excitedly in the bath (John is the bath captain -- no need to worry that a baby and a tub of water are not getting someone's full attention).  But it has been a nice way to transition from my work day to my home life.  It's not all bad to have to pass though a soft wall of alpaca to get to the space that I share with my family.     

Alpaca Meditation

Several Christmases ago (I cringe to think how many it actually is, so I will leave it at "several")  I had been unable to think of a good present for my aunt.  My solution to the problem was to take her to yarn store and have her select some yarn that she really liked and I would turn it into a scarf for her.  This, I thought, would be easy.  There were so many great yarns, so many potential patterns, I would have a gift knit up in no time.   It would still be a little late for Christmas, but it would be handmade, and I knew my aunt appreciated handmade gifts. 

When I was in high school, my aunt lived in southern Colorado and had a couple of llamas.  Later on in her life she was married to a guy who worked on an alpaca ranch.  She developed a knowledge and love of our favorite South American fiber-bearing creatures long before the current explosion of interest in both the creatures and alpaca yarn.  So it should have been no surprise to me when she selected a skein of "Baby Twist" (in the jumbo format of 549 yards!) from Alpaca with a Twist in the "Bark" colorway.  Baby Twist is a 100% baby alpaca yarn.  To say that it is soft is damning it with faint praise.  The fondle factor for this yarn is incredibly high.  Certainly, of all the alpaca yarns that I have worked with, it is probably the softest and least "picky" that I have ever encountered.  I could probably wear it against my skin.

I was certain I was going to convert yarn into scarf quickly, so as soon as I got back from Michigan I converted the skein into a ball and set it on my desk, waiting for inspiration to strike me. 

And there it sat.  It has gone with me on a couple of vacations, never to be touched.  It's been cast on and ripped out a few times.  Finally it got stuck into the stash for a few years after I re-organized my stash closet, and I forgot about it until my stash migrated from the closet in Ms. Z's bedroom (which was originally my fiber room) to our basement guestroom, which was recently enlarged and which is on its way to becoming my fiber haven.  When I found it, I decided I couldn't in good conscience let it get buried in the stash again, so it came back up to my desk again.  To wait.

This time, however, the wait was not so bad.  I was sorting through the bookcase in my bedroom when I came across the Rivolo pattern that I had purchased along with a merino/tencel blend yarn that I purchased from Briar Rose Fibers.  I had one of those light bulb moments and ran back to my desk and looked at the weight and estimated gauge of the yarn.  Absolutely perfect.  I did a little dance, and with 15 minutes left in the naptime I was enjoying, I cast on.

You might wonder about the wisdom of working a lace scarf pattern in a slightly fuzzy slightly marled alpaca yarn.  I did.  However, after a few repeats, I stopped wondering and just kept looking forward to knitting.  The experience of knitting with this yarn is incredibly pleasurable.  As far as hand goes, this would have to be one of the nicest yarns I've knit with.  While the picture above hardly shows off the lace,  I think it has a great deal of potential.  This scarf is not going to look at flashy as it does with a handpainted yarn, but I think it's going to block beautifully.  I think it will also work well for my aunt.  The selection of a soft brown yarn fits with her well.  It looks practical but has a hidden quality that only the wearer really knows about.  I think the lace will be like that as well.  It may not be as obvious in this scarf, but it will be a little bit of extra beauty that the wearer willl know about and that will not detract from the warmth of the scarf. 

The pleasure of knitting with this yarn has allowed me to do something that I rarely do: knit from the "process" part of my brain instead of the "product" part.  Normally, my goal is to knit as fast as I can and get to the finish line and enjoy the finished product.  But with this, I'm enjoying the feel of knitting so much that I'm trying to knit just one repeat a day so that I can appreciate the feel of the yarn a little longer.  It gives me a short time to just pause and reflect and bask in the tactile joy of the craft. This means that my aunt will have to wait a bit longer for the scarf, but given my current track record, that extra time will hardly be too significant.