I absolutely adore hydrangea bushes, so when Karen and I were at the distributor for Naturally Yarns the other day, a pattern in the Fiber Trends line caught my eye. Now, Fiber Trends is the US distributor for Naturally Yarns, so (er, naturally), they have some patterns to support those yarns. Amongst those is a little beauty called "AC-83", AKA the Hydrangea Lace Scarf (click on the link in the sidebar on the left once you get there).
Although the pattern gives some general yarn suggestions, they also note that the scarf was worked in Naturally Yarns "Dawn", a new laceweight yarn. "Dawn" is 50/50 wool/silk, and it appears to my eye to be a cable construction. It's labelled as 2-ply, but I'm assuming that's just part of the whole 8-ply/10-ply system that corresponds to things like DK/Worsted Weight on this side of the Pacific Ocean. There are definitely four strands, two groups of 2 plys, then plied around each other -- that's cable construction, right? IIRC, that construction is supposed to create a smoother, more even yarn, but the spinners amongst you may use the comments to correct me if I'm wrong.
Actually, before I go any further, let me just say that there are two things I don't like about the Dawn, so let's deal with those right away. First, the yarn is in a 25g put-up, with 156 metres to 25g. I think it would be much more useful in a lace-weight yarn to have it in a 50g ball, with 312 metres to work with before I had to join in a new one. Most of the pattern support for the Dawn does, in fact, appear to be lace, in the form of scarves and shawls, and I think it just would have been nicer not to have so many joins. I've been thinking this through from a Sales of Yarn perspective, too. For the Hydrangea Lace scarf, I'm going to need something on the order of 3 and a half balls of Dawn, so I've had to take 4 balls to make sure I can finish it without skimping. If the put-up were a larger 50g ball, I would have needed to buy two of them anyway -- the same amount of yarn, the same ultimate price, and two fewer joins in the project.
I'm probably missing something here, there are probably some good reasons why they did this the way they did, but so far I'm not seeing it.
Second, I think the colour range is a little limited. What colours there are, well, they are really lovely. There's a rust colour that has me mulling over an idea for a lace scarf or stole. The red is luscious. I'm working the scarf in the green it's pictured in -- I just couldn't do it in another colour (though it might have made more sense in a pink or blue, given that it's hydrangeas), because the green is so fresh and delicate.
Apart from that though, the yarn is really lovely to work with, and the pattern is wonderful. I'm amazed that with all the lace I've worked, I have never, ever, made something from a pattern by Eugen Beugler. Hard-core lace knitters will recognize Eugen Beugler's name immediately, and I will admit that I have long admired his work, and always meant to knit something someday. One day.
Well, that day has dawned. So to speak:
Unfortunately, it's a pretty grim day here, and I just can't get the colour to photograph well, but trust me, it's exquisite. And let me take a moment here to say a HUGE thank you to Fiber Trends for finally moving away from those patterns on dark teal paper, and producing some new pattern leaflets on heavy white paper. The leaflet is well-designed, streamlined, easy to read, and to be honest, it took me a moment to register the fact that it was a Fiber Trends pattern. Well done, folks, and my eyes thank you.
(Do you know, it just about killed me to type "fiber" instead of "fibre" in those previous paragraphs. It's just so ingrained in every...er...fibre...er...of my being.)
In other news -- this knitting frenzy I'm on lately is in part due to the fact that I'm knitting samples for Karen at Shall We Knit, but also in part because she is going to have a booth at the DKC Knitter's Frolic this coming Saturday (April 28th). I'm going to be there to give her a hand throughout the day, and this scarf as well as a couple of other things I've got on the go will be there with me. If you're going, do be sure to drop by her booth to say hello and see what she has, because she's going to have some truly luscious items.