If you know one thing about Knit Purl, it’s probably that we love Shibui Knits, and if you know one thing about Shibui, it’s probably that they love combining yarns to create exciting new fabrics. From the opulent medley of silks in Mix No. 9 to the intriguingly plush yet crisp Mix No. 28, their blends inspire us to be creative when selecting materials for a project. In our latest newsletter, we took advantage of Shibui’s highly mixable yarns to develop two new takes on Alicia Plummer’s Cedarwood cardigan.
When combining Shibui yarns, it’s common to choose two different yarns in matching colors. After several years of observing swatches, projects, and trunk shows, I’ve realized my favorite mixes feature yarns that are close in color but distinct enough to give the finished piece visual texture and depth. Sometimes, as with our Baby Alpaca + Pebble Cedarwood suggestion, this can be accomplished simply through choice of yarn. While Baby Alpaca is solid in color, Pebble’s trio of fibers lend tiny, playful flecks, echoing the tweedy look of the original Shelter in a soft and swingy fabric.
Other combinations require slightly more experimentation. For our Cedarwood sample worked in Maai + Silk Cloud, we first tried using Caffeine in both yarns. While the resulting swatch was plush and bouncy—everything you’d want in a cozy cardigan—I didn’t feel the fabric was enhanced by the play of pale silk against darker mohair, alpaca, and wool. To my eye, one of the most beautiful ways you can use Shibui yarn is to match the silk of Silk Cloud to the color of a thicker yarn, allowing the darker mohair halo to accentuate your fabric’s shadows. You can test the effect by wrapping a strand of Maai in Tar, for example, around a strand of Silk Cloud in Abyss. In the end, we took this approach with Cedarwood, pairing Maai in Ash with the slightly darker, slightly greener Fog in Silk Cloud. The finished fabric has an almost metallic appeal, with the two subtly different grays shimmering across its surface. The textured band stands out as if it had been shaded with a graphite pencil. It’s a sweater that looks like a work of art and feels as comforting as a hug. I highly recommend you treat yourself to a kit!
Do you have a favorite way to combine Shibui yarns?