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Returning to Coraline

November 28, 2007

I know that many of you love the Coraline design and want to make it and I’m sorry that it’s taken so long to do a pattern. Unfortunately it’s going to be a while longer, but paradoxically that’s partly because of it’s popularity. The fact that so many of you want to knit this only increases my desire to make the pattern as perfect as possible, not that I don’t want that for every pattern, and there are a few things that have been niggling me about the design and that I’ve decided not to ignore. The big one is really the yarn. I’ve posted recently about my desire to make more thoughtful yarn choices and one of the motivations for this is that I’ve come to realise that my yarn choices are not only a single choice. Although I’ve always seen the yarn in patterns as little more than the choice the designer happened to make for a single garment, they are of course more frequently seen as recommendations or suggestions. That’s perfectly reasonably and while I’m all for substituting, and I do like to see the changes that yarn choice can make to a design, there are many good reasons for wanting to use the same yarn as that in a pattern sample. If nothing else some of my own early yarn choices highlight that it’s certainly possible to make unfortunate substitution choices. All this, though, does make me a more conscious of the simple fact that my own yarn choices also serve as recommendations and with that, I feel, comes more responsibility than I feel when just making the choice of what I’m going to knit with. Responsibility both in terms of the companies and ethics I want to support and in terms of selecting a yarn that my customers will enjoy working with and be pleased with the results of.

I knit Coraline in RYC Bamboo Soft and although I absolutely love the resulting fabric I don’t feel especially happy recommending it as a yarn. Firstly I have issues with a product that is being heavily marketed as green when the actual evidence of it’s lack of environmental impact doesn’t seem to support that (the super short version of that is that although bamboo as a crop is far more environmentally sustainable than cotton, for example, the process of turning that crop into yarn is far more problematic). Secondly the yarn was truly horrible to knit with. It’s made up of multiple fine, slippery plies that untwist, split and occasionally break. Although, of course, some knitters are going to find a design with this much stocking stitch deathly boring, I know that many others like myself like to have a simple project that doesn’t need their full attention that they can pick up here and there. Knitting this much stocking stitch in a yarn that needs so much attention paid to it totally defeats the point as far as I can see. What would have been a nice way to keep your hands occupied while chatting, watching a film etc becomes something that is both deathly dull and that will be screw up if you get distracted. Fun. The ends were impossible to weave in except by splitting the plies and darning each one in individually, which took forever. Although I wash all my swatches and try to investigate the yarn’s properties I didn’t full account for the amount this yarn was going to stretch vertically. Consequently, and it’s worse now than in the above picture, while I like the unintended length the yoke is horrible stretched out so that the neckline is wider and the underarms are awkwardly low.


I think you know where all of this is going, don’t you? If you’ve been reading for a while you’ll have noticed my compulsion to knit everything twice over, but in this case I think it’s necessary. The Coraline cardigan I’ve made is lovely and I will continue to wear it frequently, but as is, I’m not happy releasing a pattern for it and I’m definitely not comfortable recommending to anyone that they knit it in RYC Bamboo Soft or that they even buy the stuff. And so, the absolutely gorgeous UK Alpaca Silk and Alpaca blend that I posted about on Saturday is becoming Coraline. And the swatches? Well I stretched them hard vertically, because I know this yarn is also going to stretch out.


Apologies for the delay in developing the pattern, but I think in the end it will be worth it. The above photo is of the bottom corners of the old and the new, it’s already neater. At least I was in need of a simple stocking stitch project anyhow. Perfect for movies, talking, carrying around and reading. It’s already progressing faster than the Print o’ the Wave stole.

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