This is a dandy project for using up all your leftovers and oddballs. It’s less a pattern and more a basic instruction.
Here’s a tip from paola to manage all the random little balls and prevent this. Pin a knee-high stocking or trouser sock to either edge of your work and stuff all the balls you’re not using in them. When you pick a new color, remove the ball from the sock, knit across, pick out your next color from that sock, stuff your old color inside, and continue.
What you’ll need:
400 – 500g misc. coordinating yarn, ranging from dk to bulky
Long #10US circular needles
First, pick out your yarn.
You might want to give yourself a couple of days with this step, to be sure you’re happy with your assortment. This was my initial grouping, but I took out several of the larger balls and scrounged up more odds and ends, saving those bigger balls for other projects.
First, pick a couple of full balls or dk or light worsted to use as your base yarn. You’ll want about 250-300 yards. Using the lighter yarn as your base will keep the gauge more consistent. This will be enough to carry throughout the shawl, tying all your odds and ends together. My base was 2 balls of Ultralight fuzzy alpaca that I’d hand-dyed a sloppy mix of reds and oranges.
Once you have your base, start snagging up other orphans and leftovers. As you toss balls into the pile, consider the overall look you want. Do you want a mad riot of color and texture? Anything goes. Do you want sharp, popping lines? Pick smooth yarns and solid colors. Prefer a more hazy, blended look? Focus on a color family and include variegated and fuzzy yarns in your mix. I used about half and half classic and fuzzy yarns. The fuzzy softend everything up, while the smoother yarns added a richness and texture.
If you’re not good at visualizing how yarns knit up together, CO 12 stitches with one of the bulky yarns and knit about 4″, alternating color, weight and texture every row, and repeating your base yarn every 5th or 6th row.
Once you’ve got all your yarn together, you’re ready to go.
Using bulky yarn, loosely CO 180 st. You’ll cast on and bind off with bulky yarn to give stability to the edges and keep your edging from puckering in. You’ll also want to knit a bulky row every 5 to 7 rows to keep the overall gauge even.
Then you just knit all rows, alternating between yarns. Vary weights and colors. If you find the color you want to use next is on the other side, every once in a while, you can go back to the side you just worked and knit in the same direction instead of turning your work.
To keep the edge tidy, you’ll slip the first stitch of every row with all of your yarns on that side held in front. Then you’ll move all of those yarns to the back as one strand, and continue knitting with whichever you’ve selected for the row. This keeps all the strands in a nice woven-in border along the edge, even if you just carry them for several inches.
When you near the end of a ball, you can either measure it (3.5x the total length will get you another row), or you can just knit to the end and join in a new random ball. This is very easy if you’re using animal fibers–just spit splice the new ball into the old one and continue. You needn’t choose a similar color, but a similar weight will make things easier on you.
Continue until you’ve knit 18 – 24″ or more, then BO loosely, again using a bulky yarn. Weave in ends. Block if you like (I didn’t bother)
If you want to get as close as possible to the original, here’s what to use (I’ve picked close cousins for the handdyed and handspun options):
- 1/4 – 1/2 skein of Valley Yarns Berkshire in burnt orange
- 1/4 – 1/2 skein Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Bulky in medium brown
- 2 balls Filatura de Crossa Ultralight in red (or sub another fuzzy mohair or brushed alpaca blend that’s about 150yds per 50g, in red or red/orange var.)
- 1 ball Diamond Natal in color 667
- 1/2 – 1 ball elann.com Peruvian Uros Aran in cognac
- 1/2 – 1 ball elann.com Highland Wool in Tuscany green
- 1/4 ball Knit Picks Sierra in Cranberry
- 1/2 ball Knit Picks Decadance in Winterberry
- 1 hank of Malabrigio or similar irregular or handspun, worsted or lighter, in red
- 1/4 – 1/2 skein Lamb’s Pride worsted in red