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Designer Spotlight: Arlene is Not a Yak by Holly Janzen


If you’re like me, you appreciate an interesting pattern name. When I wrote Holly Janzen to ask about featuring her pattern, Arlene is Not a Yak, I had to know the story behind the name. As it turns out, Holly designed this pattern for a friend who owns a plush ostrich named, Arlene. So really, Arlene is not a yak!

Holly’s design is a beautiful summery scarf that can be knit in Berroco Karma or Lang Sol Dégradé (a yarn that Berroco distributes in the U.S.). She describes it as a simple, sideways triangle that features a bit of interesting texture. The texture is a single rib stitch – hidden by slipping stitches with the yarn in front – which creates a stretchy, reinforced edge. Holly used size 15 needles for this project to keep the stitches loose and the fabric extra lightweight. It also makes for a really quick knit.

Arlene is Not a Yak by Holly Janzen (in Sol Dégradé)
Arlene is Not a Yak by Holly Janzen (in Sol Dégradé)

How did you come up with this design?

This design was created for a friend. She had a favorite little triangle scarf, and said she’d love to be able to knit something like it for herself out of a similar material. I noted the general dimensions, and that it was knit side to side, and went to my LYS.

Any interesting stories about your process?

In general, I knit what I like. My inspiration varies, but in the past I have liked exploring simple color and texture changes. As time passes, I’m also becoming more and more interested in little features that don’t stand out, but that make a knitted item a bit better, or more interesting – kind of like this pattern and the detail along the long edge of the triangle that stabilizes it.

How did you decide on the yarn?

I knew I wanted a tape yarn and Karma was the ideal weight, shape and texture. I’m not really a tape yarn person, and I don’t really do cotton, but this was so nice to work with!! In comparison to other yarns of this type that I’ve worked with, I appreciate that it’s not slippy or splitty. It’s substantial enough to make it easy to work with (as if it is a “normal” yarn) while staying light enough for just the right amount of temperature control.

Any funny stories?

I was trying to get to and from a conference (flying from Indiana to Santa Fe) without letting TSA or the flight attendants kidnap my scarf! I was worried about my circular needles possibly not passing TSA, I should have been worried about my completed scarf! I wore a nifty curved scarf with some texture while I traveled, and although I knew I liked it, I didn’t know it would be such a big hit with other people. Then, the flight attendants liked it too. One pulled two others to the back row where we were sitting just to see the scarf.

If you could knit/crochet something for anyone in the world it would be…?

I think I’ve already done this in a way. When I was in college, I knit my grandmother an oversized Icelandic cardigan to keep her warm in the Canadian winters. I was aware that she liked it – but when my mother and I went up to visit her (in a nursing home) and sort through the house, the staff told us that she wore it everyday. That’s what I really loved, that it was appreciated and used.

Arlene is Not a Yak by Holly Janzen (knit in Karma)
Arlene is Not a Yak by Holly Janzen (knit in Karma)

Do you have a cool design you want to share? Or did you recently finish a project with Berroco yarn? You can email Ashley: or post it to the Berroco Lovers forum in Ravelry.

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