I’ve finally published the pattern for Prickle, just a week under the wire for Malabrigo March. I thought I’d have enough time to do another scarf pattern, too, but it’s just not going to happen in the next week. No time!

You can see the extended pattern description and lots of pictures on the pattern page. The pattern is $4 and can be purchased through Ravelry downloads (preferred) or through Payloadz, if you don’t have a Ravelry account.

Here’s my test knitter Deb’s version, with the lace edging, knit in one skein of Malabrigo merino worsted in Fucsia (sic; I’m spelling it the way Malabrigo does on their site). That scenic waterfront vista, if you can believe it, is the scene outside her LYS in British Columbia, and sometimes they see orcas in the harbor. We need more orcas in Indiana, if you ask me.

The short version of the description is this: Prickle is a moebius cowl in a reversible Porcupine Lace stitch, designed to use less than 100 g/220 yards of worsted-weight yarn, and finished with a sideways knit-on edging. Two edging variations are provided: a plain garter stitch edging, or a frilly, scalloped lace edging (as shown above).

It’s been interesting to me to see the differences in the same pattern in different yarns. I knit the two pattern variations in three different yarns: Malabrigo Merino Worsted in Red Mahogany, Noro Silk Garden in color 269 (with a stripe of white Plymouth Baby Alpaca Brush), and Berroco Ultra Alpaca in Lavender Mix.

Each yarn has its pros and cons, and plays certain features of the pattern up or down by its color and nature:

I think Silk Garden is the attention-grabbing yarn of the bunch. I’d like to see how this pattern comes out in a brighter colorway. The stripes really play up the bands of stockinette and reverse stockinette lace and the gentle, undulating waves of the Porcupine Stitch pattern. I took it off and threw it on the floor near the hamper the other night, and the next day paused to admire the way the creamy, natural colors looked against the beige carpet. Even framed by dirty socks and piles of books, it’s striking, sculptural.

I really designed the pattern for Malabrigo, and the feel of this yarn is the most soft and luxurious of the three versions. My everyday scarf is partly knit from Northampton, a workhorse wool, which, while not scratchy, is not really a sensual pleasure to wear. When I wear the Malabrigo Prickle, I am constantly surprised and distracted by the sheer delicious softness of the yarn when I turn my head and my cheek or neck brushes against the cowl. This is the Calgon of yarns. Malabrigo, take me away!

The interesting thing about Malabrigo is that it has more body and more memory than the other yarns. (I guess that’s something you can reasonably expect from a merino wool as opposed to a silk and mohair or alpaca blend.) It was the only one of the three versions that didn’t feel right when pulled up over my hair like a hood or wimple–not enough drape, not enough stretch.

I think the semi-solid colorway of Red Mahogany gives it a really pretty, organic look when combined with the stitch patterns–like shelf fungus, if that doesn’t sound too gross. The shapes of the individual lace repeats are obscured by this colorway, but Malabrigo (like other hand-dyed or kettle-dyed yarns) looks really nice in garter and reverse stockinette stitch–the lace alternates between stockinette-based and reverse stockinette-based bands, and the edging is garter stitch.

The Ultra Alpaca is the plainest (the only one of the trifecta that nobody has favorited on Ravelry) but its worsted spin and plied construction give it wonderful stitch definition for lace, and the colors are great. I’m really impressed with it. I’m not going to double-post the overhead picture from yesterday, but it’s one of my favorites; taken in bright sunlight on a white backdrop, you can really see the intricate, dimensional curves of the stitches and the interesting shadows they cast. Aside from porcupine paws, the spiky stockinette parts remind me of flowers, or maybe agave plants.

So that’s that. I keep wanting to cast on more of these to see what happens in different yarns (I was thisclose to making one more in Patons SWS in Natural Earth) but I’m going to have to put this pattern down for a bit and work on something else.

Brief joke interlude: (from Mental Floss’s finalists for Best Pun in the World):Q: What do you get after playing the lute for 10 hours straight?

A: Minstrel cramps.

Kalani alerted me to the fact that Knit Picks has posted a bunch of new yarns. The ones I’m most excited about (but go look at the page for yourself–there are plenty of others):

  • New colors of Cotlin: Glacier, Kohlrabi, and Coffee are my favorites
  • Gloss lace yarn. The photos seem a little flash-heavy, but I think Cypress seems like a really pretty color.
  • Comfy, a cotton/acrylic blend. I’m really curious to see how light and stretchy this is. When they say it has “elasticity,” is it stretchy along the lines of Rowan Calmer, or more like Lion Brand Cotton-Ease? I love the muted colors.
  • New colors of Gloss Sock. These are beautiful–Cosmos in particular looks wonderfully moody and smoky
  • New colors of Shine Sport. I’ve been looking unsuccessfully for appropriate yarn for the Somewhat Cowl for approximately forever. Could Shine Sport in Fedora be the holy grail? I’m not going to bet on it, but there’s a possibility. I am so thrilled with all these new dark-chocolate browns and murky purples in KP yarns.