If you’ve been following the evolution of our lush and lovely little online shop, then you know that one of our first products was a custom colorway of Jill Draper’s virtuosic multi-color yarn, Rifton. Our one-and-only stunner of a colorway was called Appalachian Trail, in honor of this blog’s long, rambling correspondence, which, like the trail, crosses the Mason-Dixon Line.
Rules Are Rules
When we ordered the yarn, Jill explained the Rules of Rifton. It boiled down to that favorite saying of preschool teachers: you get what you get, and you don’t get upset.
Rifton combines hand-dyed colored yarns (which start out as white fleece) with natural, undyed dark shades of wool from brown, black, gray and salt-and-pepper sheep. There are only so many dark-colored fleeces produced, and only so much time available at the Green Mountain Spinnery to fiddle with a yarn with such unusual construction.
You can’t just put Rifton on the mill’s carders and fluffers (apologies for the technical lingo), and then spin white yarn afterwards. Rifton has to bide its time and await its turn. All these factors (and others, probably) mean that Jill can only make so much Rifton, and then we have to wait for the dark-colored sheep to grow another crop of fleeces, and start the process all over again next year.
Appalachian Trail was beautiful and we loved it and we sold out quickly. I got one precious skein of it for myself, which I made into a beautiful cowl. I may have shed a self-pitying tear or two when that cowl was done. No more Rifton. Our cupboard was bare. A whole year stretched in front of us. We had to be patient. So so so patient. Patient as saints.
It was going pretty well, the patience thing. A minimum of whining, really. And then, in early 2017, two of our favorite designers published two fantastic patterns, JUST FOR RIFTON.
Fissure, by Elizabeth Elliott:
(Photos by Gale Zucker.)
And Fallowed, by Bristol Ivy:
The Rifton just sings in these patterns; there is a true marriage of yarn and pattern. These designers have put their foot on the gas and taken Rifton out for a heckuva spin.
To H*ck With Patience
You can guess what happened to our patience when we laid eyes on these patterns.
Yeah. We went running back to Jill, begging for more Rifton.
Jill came through. Perhaps that is a measure of our whining and pleading ability, or Jill’s graciousness. I prefer to think it’s the latter.
So, starting today, we have Rifton back in stock, in Jill’s original four colorways:
Clockwise from upper left: Winter. Spring. Summer. Autumn.
And in case you need a solid to go with them, three lovely solid shades of Rifton Mono: Bering (pale blue), Amaranth (plummy) and Central Park Bench (park bench green).
Fissure or Fallowed
I went through a fair amount of soul-searching to decide which pattern to make: Fissure or Fallowed. In truth, I want them both. Also in truth, I need neither one. These are must-knits for me, but they are purely “process” knits: I just want to make them, and then look at them forever, and maybe swan around in them once in a while when it’s chilly.
(See at the top, where the gray is starting to dawn? That’s the thing that really gets me about Rifton.)
Knitting on my Fissure wrap is pure zen. I save it for a treat, and it is delicious.
Fissure has so many things I love: knitting on the bias, asymmetry, garter stitch, and also asymmetrical garter stitch. And then those contrasting zig-zags (which are short rows) to ease the transition from the Spring colorway to the Winter colorway. I haven’t yet decided which color my zig-zags will be.
What color is your Rifton?