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Amy’s Thread: Which comes first the yarn or the pattern?

Whether I’m designing or knitting for fun, my knitting choices tend to start with the yarn. I fall in love with the yarn first and the pattern follows. I find tweedy yarns irresistible and, this week, I’ve been hunting for the perfect pattern for a sweater’s worth of Berroco Remix in the shade “Night Fall”  

Remix is a soft multi-ply recycled fiber tweed with the added benefit of being machine washable. Choosing the right pattern is a little like shopping—I get an idea of what I’m looking for and then start searching for the right pattern. Swatching the the yarn is a little like trying something on and it gives me a chance to see what fits and what isn’t quite me.

"Faded Jeans" 3927remix_lg

Motivated by the “What Inspires” post I wrote last week, I started thinking about Berroco patterns designed by Norah Gaughan. When you think about changing the yarn that a pattern was written for you’re taking a chance. It’s important to consider the visual characteristics of the yarn as well as the fiber content. Anything designed for Blackstone Tweed would be an obvious choice for Remix. They’re completely different fibers but the look is similar. At the top of my potential pattern list were Connate from NG v.11, Nesselrode from booklet #288 Blackstone Tweed. But with only 6 skeins in the stash (216 yards each or about 1300 yards), there probably wouldn’t be enough yarn to knit my size in either pattern. Lempster from the Winter 2013 issue of Knitty would be a closer match or Merle from NG v. 13. I love the idea of Merle knit in Remix, more casual than the original, it would be soft and cozy like an elegant sweatshirt.

But for this yarn in this color, there is an obvious perfect choice: Norah’s Beatnik pattern. I’ve been dreaming about knitting this one since if first came out in Knitty Deep Fall 2010I’ve cast on my pullover and with any luck I’ll have it finished in time to wear it a few times before summer.


How do you choose your next project? Do you pick the pattern or the yarn first?


6 thoughts on “Amy’s Thread: Which comes first the yarn or the pattern?

  1. I usually look for a pattern to match my yarn for two reasons. i) I have a ginormous stash that I need to knit down, and ii) when I’m ready to start a project I want to cast on immediately. The times I’ve ordered yarn for a project, I’ve lost interest by the time it arrives.

    Beatnik is going to look great in that color.

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