There are two things you may already know about Ann and me: we love mini skeins, and we adore the US-grown, US-spun yarns that Jill Draper dyes by hand in her Hudson Valley studio.
So it’s only natural and right that we asked Jill Draper to cook up three different sets of 12 mini skeins in her soft, beautiful Windham merino yarn.
Windham is a worsted weight merino with a light hand and color that shifts in that lovely way that hand-dyed yarns do. The 4-ply construction adds strength and durability to the fine Merino fibers. The smooth, almost cottony texture is great for any picky wool wearers that you knit for. We happen to know that Windham is a 21.5 micron yarn. (We happen not to know what that means, really, since our minds work better with concepts like “worsted weight.”)
Each colorway of 12 mini skeins was dyed to reflect a specific color story or mood, but they all play well together and with other worsted weights, should you choose to combine these yarns in an epic colorwork project.
The individual colors don’t have names, although in a few cases they may match standard colors for Jill’s yarns. Dyeing these skeins for MDK was a romp for Jill Draper, who had free rein to cook up bunches of mini skeins in delightful colors. Jill is an incredible colorist; there is artfulness and always an unexpected zing to her combinations.
There are three colorways. We gave them names, because a shop needs things to have names. Try not to let the names influence your response to the combinations. What looks “summery” to one person may evoke an entirely different response in another.
Cabana, a summery bundle of red, orange, pink and green tones, with three beautiful blues.
Posy, a mixed bouquet of intense brights, with paler greens and brown for contrast.
Rosita, a mix of muted shades with flashes of spring green and pale yellow, inspired by love of the improbably beautiful color juxtapositions of Missoni stripes.
A practical note: Windham is not treated to be superwash (aka machine washable), so wash your project by hand in cool water, and lay flat to dry.
Our Next Question: What Should We Make?
Petting these beautiful skeins, arranging and rearranging them, stacking them on the coffee table, is enough. Like any thing of beauty, Windham mini skeins need only exist, and we are happy.
But beautiful yarns cry out to be knitted, so we’ve given some thought to potential projects for Windham Mini Skeins.
We are beginning to think that Dangling Conversation is the universal donor, the Type O of knitting patterns. Ravelry is currently showing over 1600 projects for this beloved pattern, in every fiber under the sun, and in solid colors, multi-colors, and color-shifty ombres and gradients. They are all beautiful. Each one is a super handy Accessory-Type Item to enhance the wardrobe. We love Dangling Conversation in linen, and we know that we will love it in soft, light merino wool.
photo by mindy ross.
The reason Dangling Conversation works so well for mini skeins is that you work a row of eyelets every time you start a new color. This makes the color changes look meant-to-be. There is no indecision about when to start a new color; you start a new one when you are just about to run out of the old one.
Somebody please make a Dangling Conversation in Windham Mini Skeins–we want to see it!
Just One (More) Row
As it happens, Jill Draper herself has a great pattern for Windham, Just One (More) Row.
photo by jill draper.
It’s a stripy scarf with large-format chevrons and ingenious knit-as-you-go i-cord on the edges. (An i-cord tube is the perfect place to hide yarn ends. No weaving! Just thread them into the tube, and they’re gone. They never happened.)
I jumped in on this pattern with both feet this past weekend.
My first decision: how to sequence the colors for maximum stripe contrast.
It was pretty easy to sort the colors into darker shades and lighter or duller shades. I hemmed and hawed for only the absolute minimum amount of time, and decided to pair them just as shown in this photo.
Then I started off. The “just one row” is easily memorized. Because you work the chevron increases and decreases on both sides of the fabric, it’s got a three-dimensional, topographical quality as it comes off the needles.
I was worried–was the i-cord too short? Would things flatten out with blocking? I couldn’t stand the suspense, so I bound off (temporarily! I can undo it!) and washed and blocked what I was now (temporarily) calling my swatch.
PHEW. When will I learn to believe in blocking? Blocking is the best!
Hot Off the Presses: Dionisio Point
Here’s a brand-new pattern that was specifically designed for Windham Mini Skeins: Dionisio Point, by Elizabeth Elliott.
As a fan of corrugated ribbing, and one who is feeling her Fair Isle skills (midway through the yoke of my Hadley Pullover), this pattern is really calling to me. The pattern calls for one full skein of Windham plus 4 mini skein quantities. I’m thinking, if I do the background color of the corrugated ribbing with one mini skein and the rest of the background with another mini skein, that’s 6 mini skeins and no full skein. We’ll see how it goes. It’s a beauty of a pattern.
Dionisio Point photos by Gale Zucker.
I mean, WHOA. I want this one.
Let’s Crowd-Source This Thing
We would love to hear reader suggestions for patterns for Windham Mini Skeins. Ravelry’s pattern archives are deep and wide, and he possibilities for twelve 60-yard skeins are mind-boggling. Right now, my mind is focusing on chevrons and stripes, but there are so many other ideas out there. Let us know in the comments.