26 Nov 2021

New men's scarf pattern – the Petersfield Scarf

Petersfield Scarf Knitting Pattern by Moira Ravenscroft, Wyndlestraw Designs

It is so good to be finally able to think about winter travels.... After so many months at home, the idea of donning a thick winter sweater and heading for the hills is blissful. 

As a knitter, I have found this quite inspiring as there's not a lot of need for winter woollies in Florida! However, the mere thought of biting northerly winds has made me dig out my needles and yarn.

However, before I started with any of my own knitting I remembered that my husband, Tim, has been asking for a new scarf for ages. I had a look in the yarn stores and found a wonderful soft mid-grey to contrast with a deep wine-red – his favourite colours! 

This is Cascade 220 Sport, which is a lovely soft 100% wool yarn. The red is called Burgundy and the grey is Charcoal Grey. The combination gave the perfect degree of contrast for the striped design I had in mind.

Petersfield Scarf Knitting Pattern by Moira Ravenscroft, Wyndlestraw Designs

I also wanted the scarf to be squishy and warm, so I opted for using two ends of a thinner yarn together rather than one thicker one. I am finding that is almost my go-to method these days. I love the way this builds extra warmth into a scarf or hat plus also opening up the possibilities of using a single strand for a matching pair of gloves. 

If you would like to read more about the delights of working with two ends of yarn held together, then please have a look at my "Seeing Double" blogpost series from earlier this year here.

Petersfield Scarf Knitting Pattern by Moira Ravenscroft, Wyndlestraw Designs

For the scarf I wanted a reversible stitch with a lot of texture and character, so selected Granite Stitch from our Reversible Knitting Stitches book. This is an easy stitch to work but has such an interesting texture and depth. 

You will probably have seen me mention before in my blogposts that reversible stitches tend to lay flat, but this one is exceptional in that even the edges are firm and do not roll. This means that I could run the pattern right to the edges for a very modern look. 

That also makes it easier to work, of course, because there is no border to be worked at either edge. In fact the only stitch that has to be worked differently is the very end selvedge stitch! This makes the pattern good for working on while you are travelling or when you are with other people in a group on holiday get-togethers.

Petersfield Scarf Knitting Pattern by Moira Ravenscroft, Wyndlestraw Designs

I designed the scarf with a graduated stripe pattern, so that the scarf ends are worked with a lighter stripe effect and then the strong wine-red colour bands increase in density towards the centre. This central thick-and-thin banded repeat brings a strong colour focus to the neckline fold or wrap, framing the face and adding extra interest to the central neck area.

The finished scarf as shown here is 23cm/9 ins wide and 183cm/72 ins long, so is a good length for wrapping around the neck. I have also included instructions for two other sizes in the pattern:

 a shorter slimmer scarf: 20cm/8 ins wide x 156cm/62 ins long, 

and a larger one: 25cm/10 ins wide x 183cm/72 ins long.

To read more information about the new Petersfield Scarf please click here. The pattern can be downloaded instantly from the site so you'll be able to start your knitting straight away.

I hope you are able to travel or get together with your families this winter – complete with needles and yarn to knit your next winter scarf!

Until next time, happy knitting!


16 Aug 2021

New Pattern – the Darlington Lace Scarf & Wrap


It's almost the end of summer! It's amazing how fast this year is going, isn't it. We are currently in Sweden and enjoying the last of the long summer days and clear blue skies. 

"Sweden?" I hear you ask. Yes, indeed! The borders were opened at the end of July so we rapidly organised flights to catch up with our daughter and son-in-law and meet our gorgeous new grandson, now 10 months old. And yes, he truly is gorgeous and I am, of course, only marginally biased about that! If you would like to see a photo of him from back in January, please click here.

I have also been enjoying knitting along with Anna and seeing her future projects taking shape. There's nothing quite like knitting with your daughter to bring a sense of normality back into the world. I hope everyone else reading this can enjoy similar moments with their families very soon.

In the meantime, I have been finishing up my latest pattern, the Darlington Lace Scarf & Wrap and it is now in my website shop hereThe pattern includes instructions for three different sizes to give a slim scarf in two lengths or a lovely draping wrap which would be perfect to complete an evening ensemble.

The photos show me wearing the new wrap and I have to say I really love this. It is a perfect weight – warm enough to take the edge off a cool evening outside, yet with a soft silky drape that adds a special touch to any outfit. 

It can worn draped elegantly over your shoulders for an evening at the theatre or a stroll along the embankment. However, it looks equally good if you wrap it around your neck for a little extra warmth!

The pattern also includes a slim scarf in two different lengths, which would give the perfect finishing touch to a casual jeans outfit. 

Darlington Lace from Reversible Knitting Stitches by Moira Ravenscroft & Anna Ravenscroft, Wyndlestraw Designs

All the items are worked in a beautiful reversible stitch, Darlington Lace, from our Reversible Knitting Stitches book. The stitch is light and airy with gently curving ribs separated by vertical bands of eyelets so it resembles a cool waterfall.

The top and lower borders feature a beautiful co-ordinating ribbed pattern which looks like a row of lily flowers. This gives extra interest to the ends and also adds a little extra weight, making them hang perfectly.

I worked the wrap shown here in a lovely dusky blue bamboo/merino yarn, but it would also look gorgeous in other colours. I could imagine this in a stunning white for a summer bridal party, or in a pale apricot to accent a holiday outfit.

Looking ahead to the winter too, I could see the scarves in a deep red colour or stunning Midnight Blue to drape under the lapels of a jacket for a holiday gathering.

If you would like more information about the Darlington Lace Scarf and Wrap, please see my website hereThe pattern is also available on my Etsy store as well as Ravelry and LoveCrafts (formerly LoveKnitting). 

 I hope you are enjoying the end of summer where you are and that you are all keeping well. 

Until next time, happy knitting!


16 Jul 2021

Summer is here!

Darlington Lace Wrap by Moira Ravenscroft, Wyndlestraw Designs

Wow - I didn't mean to be away from blogposting for quite so long! I thought I would just get my sewing machine out and have some fun sewing for a while and now I see it's quite a number of weeks since I last posted....

However, it has all been highly productive as I now have quite a number of new items in my wardrobe and a much smaller amount of fabric in my stash, which is always a good outcome.

Mind you, I had forgotten just how much space sewing takes up. I seem to have commandeered almost every flat surface in our house. The dining table is now a cutting table and our breakfast area by the window has a sewing machine and an overlocker to either side of my workstation. All I can say is that it's a good job I have a wonderfully understanding husband who is happy to go with the flow.

However, I haven't abandoned knitting and have been finishing off a lot of items just waiting for some final touch or other. It's amazing how long projects can wait just for a seam to be finished or some ends sewn in, isn't it!

Kimpton Scarf and Wrap by Moira Ravenscroft, Wyndlestraw Designs

In addition to those distractions, I have been going through my old knitting patterns and updating a number of them. I was so impressed with the new charting software that we used for our last revision of our Reversible Knitting Stitches book, so I wanted to use that for the rest of my patterns. That has also given me the opportunity to add some extra notes where appropriate and check all the links are up-to-date too.

The photo above shows one of the patterns I have just updated, the Kimpton Scarf and Wrap – and just in time for some summer knitting! With the kiddies breaking up from school, summer holidays beckoning and the arrival of the hot summer days, this is a great project to work on right now - lovely cool yarn to knit with plus a scarf or wrap you can use straight away for cool summer nights or eating in an air-conditioned restaurant. Perfect.

FFCT Wrap by Moira Ravenscroft, Wyndlestraw Designs

Having seen to the Kimpton knitting pattern, I then went on to update two of my other wrap patterns as I so love wearing these. The first of these is the FFCT Wrap, beautifully modelled by our daughter Anna in the photo above. This has a touch of merino in with the cotton and gives a wonderful touch of warmth just when you need it.

Scottswoos Stole by Moira Ravenscroft, Wyndlestraw Designs

Then I also updated the Scottswood Stole pattern which can be worked in either a sportweight baby alpaca or a DK merino to keep you cozy when the temperatures start to dip again, although it's hard to imagine that right now I know!

Do contact me if you have purchased any of these patterns and would like the latest versions for your library. I'll be happy to send them out to you.

Kassiopi Scarf by Moira Ravenscroft, Wyndlestraw Designs

I have also just added my newest pattern, the Kassiopi Scarf, to both Ravelry and LoveCrafts (formerly LoveKnitting), so if you'd like to add that to your Rav or LK project library you'll now be able to link it in directly from there.

The pattern includes three widths in some lovely zingy summer colours to pep up your summer outfit. You can also find this on my website here and in my Etsy store.

Then lastly, I have been working on a new pattern, the Darlington Lace Scarf & Wrap pictured at the top of this post. I have been wearing the wrap from this pattern lots already and have found it perfect for an extra touch of warmth at the end of a day. The pattern is now on my website here, and I will post more about this next time.

Until then, have fun with your summer knitting!


21 Apr 2021

New vertical format for our Reversible Knitting Stitches book!

Reversible Knitting Stitches E-book by Moira Ravenscroft & Anna Ravenscroft, Vertical Format, www.wyndlestrawdesigns.com

Firstly, thank you everyone for the lovely messages you sent me about the "Seeing Double" blogpost series. I am so pleased that was helpful and that you all enjoyed it. I certainly like working with two strands of yarn and it was fun for me to put the series together.

Also, many thanks for the response to our expanded Reversible Knitting Stitches E-book that we completed last Autumn. It was good to have such an enjoyable project to work on during the lockdown and to have a positive outcome after such a difficult time for everyone. 

Blanket by Anna Ravenscroft, Kiku Knits using Lace Squares from Reversible Knitting Stitches by Moira Ravenscroft & Anna Ravenscroft, www.kikuknits.com

Both Anna & I loved the challenge of finding 50 new stitches to add to the collection! Anna has been using these to make all kinds of items for her new little baby including this delightful blanket using one of the new stitches that we added to the 2nd Edition, Lace Squares.

One of the messages I had recently was from a lady enquiring if we were planning to add a vertical format edition of the E-book as her iPad was set to portrait mode. I tend to flip my iPad whichever way it needs to be, but I can understand that if you're a dedicated book reader it might be better to keep it in that orientation.

I am always happy to oblige, so we have been working on this for the last few weeks and are happy to announce that it is now ready! I thought it might take ages to reformat the book but in the end it was a comparatively easy job to do, so I was able to get back to her fairly quickly.

Reversible Knitting Stitches by Moira Ravenscroft & Anna Ravenscroft, www.wyndlestrawdesigns.com

So how do the two versions compare? Well, in the new Vertical Format E-book, each stitch has its own page with photographs of both the right side and the wrong side of the stitch plus charts and line-by-line instructions. Individual pages can be bookmarked or printed out onto A4 or Letter-sized paper for later reference.

The Landscape Format E-book has a horizontal lay-out to suit both lap-tops and computers. The information for each stitch is split across two pages, with the photos and stitch details on one page then the chart plus line-by-line instructions on the next. 

The pages are also set with a larger font size so the details can be easily seen on smaller devices such as mobile phones. This is especially useful when you are at a cafĂ© knitting group or yarn store when you might not have your tablet or iPad with you.

You can see more photographs and sample pages of the new Vertical Format book here, and a gallery of pages from the Landscape Format book here.

Both versions are available for immediate download from my website, so if you haven't purchased the book yet please go there to order your copy. Links to both versions will be sent after purchase so you can download whichever format you would prefer, or if you would like them both then that is fine too!

If you already have the current E-book and would like a copy of the Vertical Format version, then please contact me and I will send you a new download link.

Also, if you would like to to read more about Anna's new baby blanket pattern, the Buttercup Blanket, then please click here.

Until next time - Happy Reversible Knitting!


31 Mar 2021

Seeing Double: #7 – Tips and Techniques using Doubled Yarns

Hebden Gilet Jacket by Moira Ravenscroft, Wyndlestraw Designs

Over the last few blogposts, I have been extolling the virtues of using two ends of yarn held together to add extra qualities to your knitting and to maximise the potential for finding interesting yarn combinations for your next project. So in this last blogpost in the series, I want to touch on some tips and techniques for working with doubled yarns.

Working with two balls of yarn - Diagram by Moira Ravenscroft, Wyndlestraw Designs

So let’s turn our attention to how we can work with two ends of yarn held together – and the answer is that there are a number of different ways. The first and most obvious is to take one end of yarn from two or more balls of yarn and hold them together as you form your stitches. 

This is a simple solution and works quite well except that the balls of yarn can get tangled together as you work. Each stitch either imparts a little extra twist into the yarn or takes a small amount out, depending on your style of knitting. This change in twist makes its way down each length of yarn leading to the ball and after a while you might see the two ends tightly coiled around each other.

You then need to stop, pin the yarn end onto the ball of yarn, then hang the two balls of yarn from the work and allow them to untwizzle. I actually quite like doing that so don't see it as a major inconvenience. It's quite satisfying seeing them untwisting!

You can reduce tangling to some extent by having each ball in a separate container, or working with both strands coming from the inside of each ball. That will at least prevent the balls from rolling all over the floor.

Alternatively, you can mount each ball on a yarn dispenser so that they rotate as you work. These devices are sometimes called "Lazy Susans" or "yarn spinners." Some of these have a central vertical pin to hold the cone or ball of yarn, while others mount the balls of yarn side-by-side as in the example above from the Letto Workshop on Etsy. Rotating the yarn ball allows the yarn to unroll from the outside to keep the threads separated.

Winding a centre-pull ball of yarn using a Nostepinde, Photo by Moira Ravenscroft, Wyndlestraw Designs

A second way to work with two ends of yarn is to wind a centre-pull ball. This photo shows a ball I was winding using a Nostepinne, but there are a number of ways to make a centre-pull ball of yarn. 

Once you have this wound, you can then use one end of yarn from the inside and one from the outside. Some people say their knitting is not quite so even if they do this but I haven't actually seen that myself. Perhaps it depends how you wind your centre-pull ball. Whichever way you do it though, it is simple and there is only one ball to look after, but you might still need to stop and untwist the yarn ends from time to time.

One of the key advantages of this method is that it is really good for small projects where you really only need one ball of yarn, and you are less likely to end up with more remnants to add to your stash.

However, a slight disadvantage of this method is that you will come to the end of the ball more quickly. You will then have two old ends and two new ends all to be finished at the same point. With two separate balls of yarn the balls tend to end up being slightly different lengths so the joins are staggered.

Working with two colours wound together - Diagram by Moira Ravenscroft, Wyndlestraw Designs

Then the third way is to take the two or more strands of yarn and wind them together into a meta-ball. This is a good method if the two yarns are the same or very similar in composition, so it works well for two different colours of the same yarn, for example. However, it is not such a good method for yarns with a different fibre composition as one yarn might stretch more than the other.

It also takes more preparation time and is hard to undo if you decide you want to use just one of the yarns on its own later. However, it is the simplest to knit with and is probably the best if you are going to start knitting a large rug or an art project with multiple ends of yarn!

Two yarn threads side-by-side, Diagram by Moira Ravenscroft, Wyndlestraw Designs

One thing to note is that when you are working with two ends of yarn held together, every stitch on your needle will show as a pair of loops. Then when you come to work the next stitch, your needle will need to go through both loops as though it were a single, thicker yarn. 

The two strands of yarn will sit next to each other in each knitted stitch. This gives quite an interesting effect as you can see in the Hebden Gilet Jacket at the top of this post.

You do need to be careful that you don't inadvertently split the stitches apart when you are working or you will change the number of stitches on the needle. Of interest, you can use this as a technique for increasing the number of stitches, but you don't want to end up doing that by mistake.

In addition, you need to make sure that both of the yarn ends wrap the needle to create the new stitch every time. If you inadvertently only use one thread to form the stitch, then that will create a thinner stitch at that point because you now only have a single strand where you should have two. However, you will usually find that you will detect this fairly quickly as the yarn ends you are working with are now a different length, so that is usually quick to fix.

I hope you have enjoyed this blogpost series and that it will give you lots of inspiration for future projects! If you would like to return to the introduction to the series, then please click here. If you would like any more information about the patterns that I have featured in this series, then please visit the pattern store on my website.

I'll be back soon with updates on the knitting I am currently working on for spring and summer.

Until then - enjoy the lovely Spring weather!


Photo credits: Many thanks to the Letto Workshop on Etsy for their photo of a wooden yarn holder.

24 Mar 2021

Seeing Double: #6 - Mix 'n Match Sets


Trevarren Placemat Set by Moira Ravenscroft, Wyndlestraw Designs

If you have been following this "Seeing Double" series of blogposts, you will know that I am a fan of using two ends of yarn for all kinds of reasons – it can add warmth to your winter knitting, expand your range of yarn choices, and produce beautiful tonal effects. It also allows you to incorporate additional fibres into your work to add drape, texture and visibility. 

However, there is another really good reason to use doubled yarns, and that is to create sets of items – all perfectly co-ordinated because the same yarns have been used throughout.

Trevarren Placemat Set by Moira Ravenscroft, Wyndlestraw Designs

This is what I have done in the Trevarren Placemat Set pictured above. The placemats and coasters have been worked using a single strand of yarn while the hot pads and central tablemat use two strands of yarn held together. 

The yarn is Paintbox Yarns Cotton Aran, which gives a lovely surface for the placemats and coasters even when used with just one strand of yarn. However, putting two strands together creates a sturdy hot pad that will protect your table top from hot, heavy casserole dishes.

In this set I have used the same colour throughout but of course you could bring in a range of colours for the placemats, then combine different colours for the tablemats to give a different look for the centre-of-table items.

Northstowe Beanie Hat by Moira Ravenscroft, Wyndlestraw Designs

Here's another idea for knitting a set of items: thick hats, scarves or cowls worked with doubled yarns, then matching gloves, mittens and socks using a single strand of the same yarn.

Some years ago I found myself at the end of a long flight with no knitting yarn to hand. I know! Shudder... It came about because a full cup of airline tea had soaked into a large amount of cotton-yak yarn and if you want to read the whole sorry tale, then please click here

Needless to say, there are multiple reasons why I give thanks for having such a beautiful daughter (and I am of course only marginally biased) but that day it was because she is a knitter with a large and diverse yarn stash! She soon found me some suitable yarn and I started casting on for the cowl I was planning. The next day we visited a lovely yarn store in Faversham, Kent and found the yarn for the Northstowe Hat pictured above.

The yarn we found was a gorgeous DK wool mix by Coopworth Yarns called Socks Yeah DK and it worked beautifully with two ends of yarn held together. The Teversham Cowl  that I made first with this yarn was so soft and warm that I went on to make a headwarmer, then a whole range of hats including the Northstowe Hat for men and the Madingley Beanie Hat for ladies.

Druidstone Socks by Moira Ravenscroft, Wyndlestraw Designs

I could, of course, have used a thicker yarn if I had found one, but I just loved the colours and feel of this yarn.  Working with two ends of the DK-weight proved to be an excellent choice, too. Not only did it make some super-warm items, but I could also mix the colours as in the Teversham Cowl I featured here

It also had another great advantage – that I could then use just a single strand of the yarn to make thinner items such as gloves and socks to give a wonderfully co-ordinated set of items. 

You can also use this idea to co-ordinate a glove and scarf set with different fibres as I was describing last time. So if, for example, you have a wonderfully fluffy mohair-and-wool scarf, you could then work a thin strand of mohair into the cuff of a glove to echo the soft look of the scarf. The glove "hand" would be in plain wool, but the trimmed cuff would tie the two items together. 

Alternatively, you could work a pair of mittens in a single plain colour with a two-colour cuff to match a thicker two-colour cowl or hat worked with doubled strands. 

As a side note, you can also use this same concept within a single item to reinforce a key area or to add extra padding. For example, you could work the sole of a knitted slipper with an extra strand of yarn to give a lovely cushy surface to walk on. 

 Fishermen's sweaters could have an extra-dense area at the elbows to save wear, or an additional strand could be added at the shoulders for warmth. The same is true for ski socks where a thicker boot cuff could be formed using a second strand of yarn to give extra cushioning and insulation.

Next time, I'll be back for the final blogpost in this series, where I will look at tips and techniques for working with doubled yarns. In the meantime, if you would like to read the introduction to the series, then please click here

Until then - keep safe and happy!


12 Mar 2021

Seeing Double: #5 – Mixing it up

Aelwen Baby Dress by Moira Ravenscroft, Wyndlestraw Designs

Last week I had the fun of knitting a new Aelwen Baby Dress as I had decided to expand the pattern size range from the original baby sizes to now include little girls' dresses too. So I dug through my yarn stash and found a good quantity of the yarn I needed to knit a new dress. I do love summer pinafore dresses for little girls and this one has such a delightful drape and flow because the yarn is not just cotton but a cotton/rayon mix.

That combination illustrates just how different fibres mixed together can bring out the best qualities of each of them. Here the cotton base layer has provided strength and structure while the rayon has give a cool fluidity and sheen. It is a lovely fibre mix and just shows what can be achieved either by finding the perfect yarn or by using two or more thinner yarns at the same time.

So in today’s blogpost in the “Seeing Double” series I am going to look at some possibilities for combining fibres to add texture, drape, strength, visibility and other attributes to your next project.

Getting Ideas

Somertide Placemats by Moira Ravenscroft, Wyndlestraw Designs

So what makes a good fibre combination? Well, one idea is to look at commercially available yarns and see how they have used fibres together. For example, the Somertide Placemats pictured above have been worked in a yarn called “Cotlin”, which is a combination of 40% linen with 60% cotton. Linen is an amazingly strong fibre and can produce wonderfully firm, resilient items. It is a good choice for placemats, shopping bags and rugs. However, it can be a little rough to work with and the end result can be harsh too.

Cotton is also quite strong but is a much softer fibre. The combination of the cotton with the linen retains the strength of the linen but makes the yarn much softer and easier to work.

However, there are three problems with relying on yarn companies to provide the right fibre mixes:

1 – that yarn may not be available in your locality,
2 – it might not be in the colour that you were wanting,
and shock, horror: 3 – it might have been discontinued….

I used to love the Rowan wool/cotton 4-ply. It was a perfect blend, with a lovely combination of cool summer cotton and warm merino wool. The mixture leant itself to Spring-time knitting, when winter is lifting but you still need a bit of warmth in the evenings. I was really sorry when it was discontinued, but the good news is that I know I can achieve a very similar result using a thin cotton yarn combined with a fine merino wool held together.

As I've said before: it’s good to have options – and there are definitely more choices for single-fibre yarns than there are for combinations.

Becoming a fibre critic

Flax Drying, Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina USA - photo by Tim Ravenscroft, Wyndlestraw Designs

Looking at commercial mixtures is one way of finding good fibre combinations, but another is to think about the qualities of each fibre and, more importantly, their weaknesses. We have already touched on this when talking about some of the commercially available yarns, so to reprise:

Linen is a strong, resilient fibre but is hard on the hands to work and can give a rough surface. Adding a softer fibre such as cotton can make this easier to knit with. Alternatively, a fibre with extra drape such as bamboo could be added to make the final item less stiff and starchy.

Cotton is good for the summer but lacks warmth for the Spring and Autumn, so adding a touch of wool can give a good combination. Cotton is also quite a heavy fibre so wool adds lightness and body.

That probably gives you the idea and of course you can apply this “critical” approach to other fibres too by looking at their attributes and the reason you’d like to use the fibre. Then think about the negatives and see if a second (or third) fibre would give a better combination. For example:

Alpaca is beautifully soft and fluffy but items made from alpaca can stretch horribly. Adding wool to the mix can give a garment that retains its shape to a greater degree.

Wool is warm and the fibre of choice for winter but some breeds can be itchy to wear. Adding a softer breed such as merino can improve the “handle”, or you could add a baby alpaca yarn instead. This would not only give a softer result but also a beautiful “halo” to the finished item.

Cashmere or qiviut are both as warm as toast but sooooo expensive. Running them alongside a soft wool such as Blue-Faced Leicester or merino would make your project easier on the pocket while still benefiting from the luxury of the base yarn.

Adding a special feature

Reflective yarn, photo by Moira Ravenscroft, Wyndlestraw Designs

Then there are situations where you would like to add an extra “something” to your knitting. Here are some options:

Visibility – Our daughter Anna lives in Sweden where the winter nights are long and dark. Having garments or even a pocket or an armband worked in a reflective yarn can mean the difference between being visible to oncoming cars or being a darker shadow on a dark road. You can embroider reflective yarn onto your knitting after the event as I mentioned in an earlier blogpost but another approach is to hold the reflective yarn alongside your current yarn to knit a high-vis hat or add a reflective band to a sweater.

Texting – It is difficult to text and keep your hands warm in the winter. Fingerless gloves are one possibility, but another is to incorporate a conductive yarn to the fingertips of your gloves so that you can text with fully covered fingers instead.

Elasticity – When I used to do a lot of machine knitting, I found it very difficult to get enough stretch into the machine-knit rib at the base of a sweater. One approach was to graft the garment onto a hand-knit rib, but another was to run a thin elastic yarn alongside the main yarn in the rib to give added stretchiness.

Texture – There is quite a fashion trend right now to add a thin strand of mohair or alpaca to your main yarn to give extra fluffiness and texture. This can be for the whole garment or just in bands to give a contrast between smooth and fluffy areas. The same would hold true for a bouclĂ© yarn to run alongside a smoother one, or for a thick-and-thin yarn to give a country look to a sweater. There are also many other interesting yarns you could use to add texture to your work such as fur, ribbon or eyelash yarn for a retro look.

Shine – I mentioned above that both bamboo and rayon can add shine and drape to a cotton yarn, but there are some fun yarns in the shops which can really add “bling” to your finished item. For example, Plymouth Gold-Rush is available in a range of metallic colours such as copper or electric blue to add glitz to an evening dress or wrap.

Added elements – You can also choose to add beads, feathers and other items by using a smooth base yarn alongside one which has been spun with mini pom-poms, beads, sequins or other ancillary items. The shops are full of these fancy yarns or you could have fun hand-spinning some novelty yarns yourself. Again, these could be used in just one area by sometimes working with two smooth yarns and then occasionally replacing one of the strands with your novelty yarn for a fun change.

Changing Gauge – This is not strictly a fibre issue but you could create a gauge gradient by working heavier yarns at the bottom of an item and then gradually moving to lighter yarns towards the top. This is a great technique for items such as curtains and room dividers. However, if the fibres and colours also vary as you move through the piece that can create an interesting look.

Mentmore Socks by Moira Ravenscroft, Wyndlestraw Designs

Longevity – A well-knit garment can last for many years, but there are always areas that are under stress. Socks are a great example, where the tops continue seemingly the same year after year, long after the heels and toes have worn through. To avoid this you can add a strand of a thin, strong yarn at the heel to provide a bit of support for the main yarn. This can be a wool with a longer staple length such as Blue-Faced Leicester but mohair, nettle yarn and silk also work well. I personally don’t like using silk because I feel sorry for the poor little moths, but I’m probably in a minority of one there when it comes to considering moths and knitting!

The Mentmore Socks pictured above were worked in a 100% merino wool yarn – beautifully soft but really not suitable for socks. However, the yarn was just too lovely to resist! I knew the heels wouldn’t last with merino alone, so I reinforced them with a 2nd strand of a laceweight yarn at the same time and I haven’t needed to darn them yet.

Yarn weights when combining fibres

Combining yarns – Diagram by Moira Ravenscroft, Wyndlestraw Designs

In the third blogpost in this series, I touched upon how to choose yarns to use together and the weights you might expect when combining yarns. The same principles apply when making up a fibre combination to work with. So for a 50:50 cotton/linen mix, you could use two medium yarns together, one of linen and one of cotton or you could opt for four thinner yarns in the same proportion.

However, using different weights of yarns can open up further options. For example, one nice mixture is to combine wool with a little touch of cotton and linen. As you can see in the diagram above, this is easy to achieve using different weights of yarn, so a thicker wool yarn is balanced by thinner strands in the other fibres. The diagram shows a cotton, linen and wool combination, but the same ideas can be used for any fibre/texture mix.

Alpaca and wool hat, by Moira Ravenscroft, Wyndlestraw Designs

That is what I have done in the hat photographed above. This combined a lovely soft alpaca DK yarn in a mid-brown tweedy colour with a deeper brown fingering weight yarn. The combination gave me the just the thickness I wanted, while adding to the complexity of colours and giving extra warmth and elasticity. I made that hat 18 years ago and it is still my go-to hat for excursions into snowy landscapes!

I hope that has given you lots of ideas for combining fibres for your next project and of course, you can also use these ideas with the colour notes from my last blogpost as the two strands of yarn might not only contribute different fibres to the mix but also different colours too. So you could plan a tweedy mix from different coloured bamboo and cotton yarns, or a heathery combination of very similar coloured merino and alpaca.

We are approaching the end of this current series of blogposts and next time I will be looking at how we can use the technique of working with two ends of yarn held together to produce sets of items.

Until then – keep happy & healthy!


Anna's Website: www.kikuknits.com

Photo credits: 
Many thanks to my husband, Tim Ravenscroft, for his photo of flax drying against an old split-rail fence in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, USA. If you'd like to see some more of his photos, please visit his Flickr site.


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