Hello Miso Friends and visitors!! My needles have been clicking madly away as Fall settles its chilly blanket over us and my cold shoulders are begging for new hand knits to warm them up. As I've mentioned in the last post I've gotten a case of Starteritis and now I've got several WIPs on the needles. I'm happy to report though that there has been a few FOs trickling out and the most recent one to come off the blocking mat features a scrumptious yarn knit in a timeless pattern - both sent to me by the lovely peeps over at Blue Sky Alpacas!! But before I start rambling on about my new knit, I'll give you the lowdown about Blue Sky Alpacas' new yarn, EXTRA, and their newest pattern collection called The Destination Collection.
First off, the yarn. You know me, I LOVE yarn. That's probably the biggest understatement of the year. Anyhoo, I've never felt EXTRA before and so when my neighbourhood postie arrived at my doorstep with the box of Blue Sky Alpacas goodies, I oohed and aahed for 10 minutes as I giddily squished the yarn in my hands. EXTRA is a luxe mix of 55% baby alpaca and 45% fine merino that makes knitting with it such a joy. It's just so soft and lofty that I found myself stopping often to give the yarn a good squeeze or to cuddle with my knitting, gently caressing the fabric against my cheek. It comes in generously sized hanks of 199m/218yds in a rich colour palette consisting of 14 colours. It's a versatile, 2-ply Aran-weight yarn that gives fantastic stitch definition and blocks out beautifully. Just because EXTRA is light and springy, don't be fooled, the fabric it creates is surprisingly dense and has a lovely drape. And unlike with other yarns containing alpaca that usually have rogue fibres floating around, I didn't find myself rubbing my eyes or nose even once while knitting. Bonus points!
The Destination Collection was designed specifically to highlight EXTRA and each pattern has its own story stemming from the 6 designers that were curated for the collection and hail from all over the world. Each designer was given a hank of EXTRA and told to go on a creative journey. Each drew inspiration from their hometowns, far away places, and locations near and dear to them. I had a hard time choosing which pattern I liked the most and then tried to narrow it down to what I would get more wear out of. In the end the Cane Bay Wrap won the number 1 spot on my list. There was something about the simplicity of the wrap and the soothing effect that the stitch pattern had that really tugged away at me.
But let's talk about the packaging for a second here. I'm sure I've said it before but I'll say it again - I am a sucker for packaging. I was in complete awe of how well of a job Blue Sky Alpacas did in conveying "a journey in yarn and needles" with this printed pattern collection. I've never seen anything like it! Such detail, such fun, such charm! The entire pattern is folded up like a map (do people use these any more? Or is all about GPS now?) and comes in a sturdy packet that really showcases the main points of the pattern. And in true map-like form, the pattern folds out to show beautiful photos and design inspiration on one side in a layout similar to that of a travel journal, and the pattern instructions and notes on the other. I'll admit at first I was a little skeptical about the size of the whole thing and thought what a hassle it was going to be to follow the pattern with it printed on such a large sheet of paper, but really, it was easy to use the pre-folds within the paper to keep to the parts of the pattern I was using without destroying the pattern itself.
Ok, the actual pattern. The Cane Bay Wrap was designed by Sarah Smuland, whose destination was the US Virgin Islands. She was inspired by "the gentle ripples of ocean waves, sunlight on the water, and bits of foam along the shore". Well, it's no wonder that I was drawn to this pattern! Being a West Coast island living girl, I'm surrounded by the ocean and can never help it when I catch myself drawing in an awestruck breath whenever I look upon the views of the ocean as I'm driving by the water front.
I don't know if I would ever wear the Cane Bay Wrap like a proper wrap as seen here:
As I don't think I could pull off that elegant look. That, and I think I would spend more time trying to keep the wrap "casually thrown about" on my shoulders like that. I'm just way too awkward. Instead, I think I would wear it more like a cozy scarf. I was super happy to have received 2 skeins of EXTRA yarn in a beautiful grey colour called Fedora, and not the Butter Cream that the sample in the pattern was knit in. I can just picture coffee and chocolate milk stains all over that before I even had a chance to leave the house!
I had knit my Cane Bay Wrap as written in the pattern. Well, ok. I did do one teeny tiny little mod - and that was knitting half a repeat more than called for. Solely because I wanted to use up as much of that delicious yarn as possible!! But could you blame me? If you have ever felt this yarn before, or once you do feel it, you'll understand why!
This pattern is a super easy knit. We're talking Aran-weight yarn and 6.5mm (US 10.5) needles here. Even the designer mentioned that the stitch pattern was "deceptively simple" in that the stitch combination was nothing more than yarn overs and decreases. My only complaint of the pattern would be that I would have liked a chart to go with the written instructions. There was definitely room to include one. As mega easy as this pattern was, I still managed to find myself having to tink back a few times due to me not paying attention at a knit night and thereby missing a yarn over in a previous row. Even though I can read my knitting, I still find it easier to see where you've gone wrong when you've got a chart to compare your knitting to.
|Please excuse the orange glow. I didn't want to offend or complain about the sun!|
I'll confess that I didn't do a gauge swatch (yes, I'm aware and take full responsibility if I had run out of yarn or if my wrap didn't come out the right size), and was second guessing myself when I bound off the last stitch if this was going to be large enough to wear and if I was pulling too tightly on those yarn overs. Blocking saved the day and those yarn overs really opened up and my stitches looked impressively even. I'm interested in finding out how well this yarn will wear over time.
Speaking of wear, I can tell already that I will be wearing this wrap a lot this fall and winter. Having this luxe yarn wrapped around my neck is seriously like being hugged by a litter of kittens. It really is that soft!! Don't be surprised if you see me on the street, nuzzling my face into this wrap. Even the Munchkin has taken to walk-by pettings!
If you want to know more about the yarn, check out Blue Sky Alpacas' video:
I can go on and on about the kitten softness of EXTRA but we all have things to knit (and if you're a parent, kids to actually parent) and possibly yarn to cuddle. Hey, do you want to cuddle some new yarn?? Maybe make your own Cane Bay Wrap to nuzzle with? Well the awesome folks over at Blue Sky Alpacas have given me all the goods for another Cane Bay Wrap to give away to one lucky reader. That reader could be you!!!
All the lovelies that you see in the photo below could be yours! Check it out:
:: THE PRIZE ::
One lucky winner will receive:
:: a copy of the Cane Bay Wrap pattern by Sarah Smuland
:: 2 gorgeous luxury skeins of Blue Sky Alpacas EXTRA in the Fedora colourway
:: a Pretty Cheep Project Bag
:: THE RULES ::
:: The giveaway is open to Canadian and US residents only, sorry to all my international readers!
:: Giveaway is open until Friday, October 31, 2014 at 12:00am midnight PST (yes, that's Halloween!).
:: All comments must include a valid email address or Ravelry ID so that I can contact you if you are the winner.
:: Winner will be chosen via random number generator and will be contacted within 48 hours after giveaway ends.
:: HOW TO ENTER ::
Simply leave a comment below telling me which pattern from The Destination Collection is your favourite. Don't forget to also include your email or Ravelry ID with your comment!
For bonus entries check out the options below:
A huge thank you to Blue Sky Alpacas for inviting me to be a part of the EXTRA/Destination Collection Blog Tour. Follow the Blog Tour by visiting the other stops for more giveaways and information on the other patterns in this collection:
Week One :: Cosmos and Cashmere
Week Two :: Woolen Diversions
Week Three :: Lattes & Llamas
Week Four :: Rock + Purl
Week Five :: HeyJenRenee
Week Six :: Miso Crafty Knits
♥ Happy Knitting! ♥
Please note: all unmarked photos in this post are by Blue Sky Alpacas and are used with permission.
:: Disclaimer ::
I am not affiliated with company mentioned in this post. I received no monetary compensation from said company for my review. I was sent a copy of the pattern for review purposes and yarn to knit the pattern in exchange for posting the review. The opinions I've written are my own and I will not be receiving any commissions from the links in this post.