When my co-worker Marta asked if I had time to take on one of her samples for her, she said the new yarn is "super pretty, and reminds me of linoleum flooring in the best sense." Knowing Marta's aesthetic ideals, I knew that had to be a good thing. I love old flooring and Formica countertops, and that kind of linoleum with random bits of coloring. Marta also told me, "It's recycled, so you'll like that!" She knows me too well – I love to save little useful reusables.
Pattern: Big Texture Cowl by Hannah Fettig from Texture: Exploring Stitch Patterns in Knitwear
Materials: 2 skeins Recycled Yarn Collective in Creamy White
Modifications: Knit on size 9/10 US needles, Cast-on 140 stitches
Marta was right! When I saw Echoview’s Recycled Yarn Collective, I loved it. This color is an off-white paper hue, with idiosyncratic pieces of recycled fiber worked in. The added bits range from bright red, turquoise, and yellow to more subtle bits of browns and blacks. Metallic copper threads and tiny brown chenille pieces are some of the more unusual pieces. The textures of these range from the thinnest thread to something about half the weight as the yarn itself. The photo of this yarn on Echoview’s website shows different colors than mine, so it sounds like there may be different hues in each lot or batch. Exciting!
The cowl here came from the book Texture: Exploring Stitch Patterns in Knitwear, from Quince & Co. yarns. Between a moss stitch and a horseshoe cable, I thought the grid-like quality of the moss stitch would work better, reasoning that a steadier and less busy graphic would be more complimentary to the unusual nature of the yarn.
In the original pattern, the yarn called for is Quince & Co.'s Puffin, a bulky weight single ply yarn that requires a needle size 10.5 and upward. Puffin needs sizes 13 and 15 for this moss stitch cowl to work, but I knew that up to size 15 would be too big for this yarn. I first tried Recycled Yarn Collective on sizes 11 and 13, but it was still way too loose. I tried 10 and 11, and it still wasn't looking its best. I finally got the pattern started with sizes 9 and 10, and it was on its way for good. This also meant that the gauge needed to be adjusted, of course, and so the original 88 sts for Puffin went up to 140 sts for this yarn.
Some yarn can be difficult to keep orderly while connecting 100+ stitches in the round, but this one was cooperative. If a knitter is looking to work in the round for the first time, this yarn would be a great choice. It holds itself still for you and is easy to keep track of to ward off any twisting in that first unconnected round.
The pattern calls for only 4 rows of ribbing (which, in the book's photo, looks more like 6 rows because the last two rib rows also look like the beginning of the moss pattern) and so for my smaller-gauged cowl, I needed to add about double the amount of ribbing for the proper edging to take shape. As the cowl neared the end, it had become a beautiful tiled pattern. The rounded, stubbly nature of moss stitch is nicely complementary to the yarn's idiosyncratic nature. Using a smaller size for the ribbing was indeed necessary for the shape. Without it, the cowl would probably be a straight cylinder and lack the contoured shape, which allows the cowl to sit nicely and more gathered on the shoulders.
With the styling advice of my coworkers, I proceeded to block the cowl to add to its rigidity. This turned out to be not only a good choice for styling but also had a wonderful effect on the yarn. Where there was a slight halo of cotton before blocking, the cowl became more matted and paper-like after being blocked, and its pillowy cotton remained puffy and comforting. I loved being able to see the quirks more clearly, too. Life is full of them, right? Might as well have a better look at them!
Recycled Yarn Collective is a perfect medium warmth for all seasons here in Colorado. For cold summer nights in high altitude, or on a February day rushing around in Denver, as one of your many necessary layers to regulate the day in the life of a Denverite. It can bundle up for extra warmth or loosen to let air in and be as flexible as the weather needs it to be. The effect of the moss stitch, as well as the fact that it's cotton make for some breathability while still being a thermal layer. I find myself imagining this yarn as a sweater, and long to see it worked in a smooth stockinette pattern now that I've seen it in textured form.