Saturday, December 29, 2012

Mo' Hair, Mo' Problems

My first yarn purchased in a real yarn store was Lamb's Pride Bulky, a wool/mohair blend spun into a fuzzy, lofty single. I remember being so excited to have real wool in my hands, but scandalized by the price tag. $8.50 for 125 yards!! SACRE BLEU!!!! Thank goodness I could not see into the future that day. If I had known how much money I was going to spend on yarn over the next decade, I might have dropped dead on the spot.

My first knit scarf was the Ribbed for Her Pleasure scarf in Lamb's Pride Bulky, plain black. Very practical, I thought. Since the whole point of knitting a simple ribbed scarf was to teach me the difference between my knits and purls, knitting it in black, fuzzy yarn was sort of a fool's errand. I could barely even see the damn thing to knit it, it was B-O-R-I-N-G, and the finished product was so practical it put me to sleep. Additionally, I could barely wear the scarf. I don't know if "allergic" is the right word, but I'm definitely sensitive to mohair. 

The weirdest part of this tale is that I didn't stop buying Lamb's Pride after that. I don't think I made any more scarves, but right of the top of my head I remember knitting a Lamb's Pride toddler sweater, a bunch of hats,  and scores of felted bags... I even started a massive rainbow colored sweater for myself out of the bulky version. No, I don't know what I was thinking either. Denial is not just a river in Egypt, ya know? It took a few years to admit that I couldn't really wear the stuff comfortably and move on. 

Anyway, what got me thinking about mohair was a reader request for yarn help. She writes:

"Dear Yarnvi-
I have two balls of Lana Grossa Lace Lux in my stash, I have been envisioning a cosy cowl or scarf to be made with them. My eye was caught by this, it calls for Kid Silk Haze. I would like to make something like that, or actually that. I don’t know how else to search to find the right neckwear, there is no choice for “cosy” or “squooshy” I really want squooshy.
XO- Glam Squooshy Scarf Wanter"
Unfamiliar with the yarn in question, I did a little digging. Lace Lux is shiny, fuzzy, intriguing blend of microfiber and merino. It's a fingering weight single ply with a mohair-esque halo. From the reviews it sounds like it may suffer from some difficulty with frogging, just like real mohair. So I would recommend either choosing a simple pattern or proceeding with caution. There's an element of fragility as well, probably a hazard of the single ply construction. While real mohair is more durable than a lot of wool, merino and microfiber wouldn't have the same toughness. With that in mind, I wouldn't subject it to heavy pulling, tugging, or even strenuous blocking to avoid disappointment.

I actually think the Cabled Glamour Cowl, from The Knitting Tree, that caught this knitter's eye is a good choice for the yarn. A lot of the projects on Ravelry that have been made with Lace Lux are big triangular shawls, but it seems a shame to have such a soft and pretty yarn so far away from one's face. Also all that single ply yarn hanging loose would make me nervous. A cowl definitely gives more opportunities for snuggling, and less for snagging.

My next choice would be the Eva by Stricklust, but in cowl form, inspired by this project. I love that it's reversible. The pattern says it's an easy one, and just glancing over it quickly I would have to concur. Just an 8 stitch and 8 row repeat. The element of garter stitch alternating with lace screams "squoosh" to me. 

I also like the idea of Song of the Sea by Louise Zass-Bangham. I think the different sized waves would keep the knitting interesting, and the final product is quite lovely and fun to look at. I like how the waves flow into each other. 

Finally, I know I just said I probably wouldn't knit a regular triangle shawl out of this stuff, but a couple weeks ago Lilaceous by Derya Davenport of Laylock fame, stopped me in my tracks. The construction is so intriguing, and the final product so lovely. Yet it calls for a mohair yarn I would never be able to live with. Of course, any lace to fingering weight yarn could likely be substituted, but I think this is a case where the texture really adds something magic. So yes, I would break my own damn rule and match these two up. They're like two crazy kids I can't stand to see kept apart.