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Montoya Beach

Nobody reading this needs me to sing the praises of Ravelry. Since its inception the site has become an invaluable source of information on patterns, yarns and techniques for knitters and crocheters. I’m as addicted to its features as anybody, but I hadn’t expected to find in its forums the voices of some of the kindest, funniest and most intellectually stimulating people I have met in a long time. Some of the best online debates I have participated in have been on Ravelry – and I’m not talking ‘wool vs. acrylic’, but discussions on politics, philosophy, ethics, religion, and more.

I recently took part in a swap among members of one of my favourite Ravelry groups, and my swap partner spoiled me rotten with the most generous haul of gifts. Among the spices, wild rice and artisanal soap were nestled three skeins of Punta del Este ‘Montoya Beach’ linen laceweight yarn.

Let me tell you a story about this yarn… I had spotted it online and fallen in love with its texture, and cool sharpness –  this colour in particular reminded me of the coastal waters of a  place I miss very much. I mentioned this yarn in a post I wrote a year ago, and my swap partner had read it, followed the link and bought some for herself. Having been assigned to send me a swap package a few weeks ago she selflessly sent it ‘back’ to me!

Now I need to find an appropriate pattern for this yarn, one that makes the most of its qualities, and that gestures to the journey it has taken so far. A growing movement of lace stitches, with a suggestion of flowing water, or surf and breaking waves.

I’m away for a few days, taking a needed break to be with family. I’ll be making some exciting fibre purchases over the weekend, and I’ll be working on a growing black/grey mass that may, one day, become a sweater.

Although babies rarely, if ever, express their pleasure at being dressed in wool, it is surely manifest when you dote on a small plump person soundly and contentedly asleep, swaddled in woollen sweater, woollen leggings, and a soft wool bonnet, snugly tucked under a fine warm wool blanket.

E. Zimmermann, Knitter’s Almanac.

Another month, another baby. This eagerly anticipated daughter of an ancient land gets a set of woollens that evoke the colours and textures of Welsh woodland. I haven’t managed the full wool layette imagined by EZ, limiting myself to the gull-stitch cardigan from Knitter’s Almanac, and teaming it with Saartje’s garter-stitch booties.

Gull stitch baby sweater and bootiesThis sweater has been made by thousands of knitters (and at least four times by me). Almost seamless, top-down construction and a stitch pattern that shows off hand-dyed wool beautifully – it has attracted a faithful following. I complemented this vibrant green colourway with glossy red buttons.

The cardigan and matching footwear used about 3/4 of a skein of Smooshy. I could easily have made a matching hat from the remains, except that I have an unfortunate habit of underestimating infant cranial measurements – so I try to avoid headwear.

This should be the last of the recent baby boom. I have a couple of grown-up projects in the wings already. A non-surprise birthday sweater due before Christmas, and the beginnings of a Big Project involving sheep, which will test my nascent fibre skills to the limit.

Pattern: Baby Sweater on Two Needles, February project from Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitter’s Almanac.
Yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy, in ‘Happy Forest’. This yarn stretches considerably when blocked, so I’m glad I used smaller needles. Bought from Socktopus – highly recommended.
Needles: 3.5mm brass circulars from Scandinavian Knitting Design. They feel identical to Addis to me, and are considerably cheaper.
Notions and Mods: Six brick red buttons

(Ravelry link)

Pattern: Saartje’s Bootees. Easiest, quickest, darlingest garter stitch booties. Size small, which produced a bootie with a 9cm sole.
Yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy, in ‘Happy Forest’.
Needles: 2.5mm needles. I used two from a dpn set, securing one end of each with a rubber stitch marker.
Notions and Mods: Four brick red buttons.

(Ravelry link)