So I just posted about the YELLOW Malabrigo lace I bought, but that’s not the end of it, not by any means.

I just got the prizes from winning Best Original Design for Malabrigo March for Prickle in the mail yesterday. They are lovely!

First of all–get an eyeful of the giant pile o’ prize yarn at the contest moderator’s blog. Wow. Aren’t those all just amazingly gorgeous?

Two of the skeins from that giant pile are now mine!

A skein of merino worsted in Hongos, a pink and brown variegated colorway:

And a skein of their brand-new superwash sock yarn, in “Test Color,” a lovely light blue with a subtle mixture of turquoise and gray shades.

Here, take a closer look.

Yum! It’s soft and pretty, but I can’t tell you much more than that yet–I haven’t skeined it up or swatched with it yet.

Now, if you’re my mom, don’t read any further! Everyone else, go ahead. There’s more Malabrigo goodness behind the jump.

A gorgeous, fluffy purple bowtie/ascot/kerchief scarf made out of handspun Malabrigo angora!

Pattern: The Bowtie Scarf from Little Turtle Knits
Yarn used: Malabrigo Handspun Angora, 1 skein of approximately 50 grams, in Velvet Grapes

Needles used: US 9 / 5.5 mm circular needles
Date started: May 10, 2008
Date finished: May 11, 2008
Mods: I used size 9 needles for a gauge of approximately 4 sts/inch.

I followed the instructions and had to rip back partway through the neck, because the neck portion seemed too wide and I didn’t think the yarn would last. I took my gauge, and decided to adjust as follows to conserve yarn:

  • I omitted “Next row: knit 1, (YO, knit 1) repeat between () across the whole row,” leaving the stitch count at 14 (3.5 inches) for the whole neck portion of the scarf. I did work the k1-sl1 keyhole section exactly the same, for a narrower keyhole than intended.
  • I think the neck portion is a little narrower than ideal, so perhaps 4” would be a good width to aim for next time.
  • I worked the neck portion in double moss stitch (k2, p2 on every row over the 14 sts, so purling the knits and knitting the purls on every row after a 2×2 rib setup row) since garter stitch eats yarn without giving much length, and this is not really a scarf for warmth, more for decoration, so there’s no real reason for the cushiness of garter.
  • I knit the neck to about 17-18” (depends how much you stretch the fabric) pre-blocking, to accommodate Mom’s complaints about the tightness of the original scarf.
  • I increased all the way across the row after the keyhole join to get back to 27 sts, by working k1fb in every stitch. The last one might have been a k1; I don’t remember.
  • The last k2tog incorporates the yo of the previous row. I replaced it with a knit stitch and did an extra k2tog on the next row when binding off.

I have a ridiculously tiny ball of yarn left over, probably about 3 or 4 yards, so I’m glad I did the neck modifications.

At this gauge, in this skein, at 14 sts in double moss stitch, the colors pooled really pleasingly along the neck, the lilac/lavender color coming up as watercolor dabs all along one edge, with the other edge solid winey purple. See how pretty that is?

So here’s the history behind this project.

I made this pattern for my mom a while back out of Patons SWS. She loved the colors and the pattern, but said it was too itchy and slightly too short for her, so it felt like it was choking her. I’ve been keeping an eye out for suitable substitute yarns ever since.

I had found this particular pattern to knit for her because she remembered her mom knitting her something exactly like this when she was growing up in Hong Kong–“it was a short scarf that wrapped around the neck, with heart-shaped ends.” After a bit of searching on the internet, I found this pattern and she said it was perfect, just the same kind of scarf her mom had made her.

Anyway, May 10th, the day before Mother’s Day, Leigh and I went on a field trip to Indianapolis–she wrote about it here, with pretty pictures and everything. First we went to the Indiana State Museum, where we saw the Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting exhibit and had a peculiar, slow lunch in the L. S. Ayres tea room, which boasts a very peculiar backlit fake view of buildings pasted to the outsides of the windows.

Next we went to the Mass Ave. Knit Shop, where I spied this handspun Malabrigo angora (rav link). I’d passed it up before, at Knit Stop, when I thought I’d have a chance to get in on a co-op with great prices. That fell through, but I never found another local source for the beautiful, beautiful yarn. When I saw it, I thought it would be the perfect thing for making a new, super-soft and non-itchy bowtie scarf for Mom (and it would be a great excuse to splurge on a skein of this very pricey 100% angora).

I hemmed and hawed over colors for a while, then picked out the Velvet Grapes, a wonderful mixture of a dark, warm merlot purple and a lighter, cool-toned lavender-blue purple. I almost got myself another skein but couldn’t decide on the color.

Leigh’s favorite, Hollyhock, a bright fuchsia color, was amazing, but bright, and doesn’t really go with anything in my wardrobe; plus, I thought I might get burned out on purples.

Orchid, a very pale, delicate lavender color, was one I had been looking at online and loved, but the color wasn’t as glowy and amazing as Hollyhock and Velvet Grapes, and again, see the note re: purples.

Bijou Blue, a medium-to-light cornflower blue shade, was very pretty, and would fit better in my wardrobe, but again lacked the glow of the intense purples.

Emerald Blue and Sealing Wax were also gorgeous–a green-blue mixture and a brilliant red, respectively.

“Will you regret this in 6 hours?” was Leigh’s rule of thumb for deciding on a yarn purchase. I ducked back and forth with a skein of Hollyhock for a while, then put it back, deciding that I couldn’t justify to myself spending a sweater’s amount of money on 100g of yarn. “I’ll be fine with this one skein!” I said decisively.

Back in Bloomington, after some shopping and dinner, I finished Rahul’s second Very Plain Hat, set to work on this scarf (around 10 pm?), and couldn’t put it down till 2:30 AM… done and dusted, all ends woven in, leaving me ridiculously tired and happy.

Of course, now it’s far more than 6 hours later, and I’m still sorry I didn’t buy a skein for myself!

The downside (aside from the price) is that I think it gave me some minor allergies, making me sneeze and cough. I doubt it’s the angora in and of itself, since I have a few beloved angora-mix storebought sweaters, and I’ve knit and handspun angora before without any issues. I think it was just the extra fluff or dust flying out of the skein as I knit with it, something that should be solved with a good wash. (I’ve blocked it but haven’t been wearing it or anything to test my hypothesis.) There were also occasional twine-like overspun sections of the plies.

Overall, though, this yarn was wonderful to knit. So beautiful, and there’s so much interesting texture and color as you work with it that every inch of the knit is a pleasure. Even the “boring” garter stitch never seemed like a slog.

The Yarniad made a similar neckerchief thingy with a blue skein of angora–go check hers out too!

Oh, and one last note on the pattern. When I brought this to show and tell at breakfast yesterday, pretty much my entire group of fellow knitters was confounded by the keyhole and unable to locate it even though they knew it was there. It was very well-disguised by its construction and the yarn’s fuzziness. I’m going to have to tie a ribbon through the keyhole before I send it off to my mom. (It’s located just above the heart-shaped bit, and is the narrower of the two sides.) Be prepared to include some Instructions for Use for the recipient if you plan to make an angora bowtie scarf as a gift.

I also have one non-Malabrigo-related thing to share with you. I got an email today saying that in honor of the economic stimulus tax rebate checks the US government is doling out, for the next few days you can save 20% on all of your yarn purchases at Sonny & Shear by entering the code GeorgeGaveMeYarnMoney at checkout. The coupon expires at midnight on Friday, May 23, 2008. Go forth and spend, it’s your civic duty! (I think. I’m really not sure the reasoning behind this whole idea is sound, nor that it was a good use of government money to send out at least two paper mailings per person to let us know that the stimulus checks would be coming in the near future, but were not here yet. Anyway. I defer to Ben Bernanke.)