Sometimes, knitters just can’t leave well enough alone. Over time, it almost gets harder to leave things as is when you buy a new pattern. Especially when simple alterations—in fit, color, or fabric choice—can result in the perfect garment for your lifestyle.
The Modern Wrapper, a pattern from Churchmouse Yarns & Teas, is a one-size-fits-all, oversized cardigan. This piece is definitely a wardrobe classic. It wears easily as a casual layer, pulled over pajamas on the weekends, or dresses up beautifully over chic, sleek leggings with high-heeled boots. Don’t be fooled into thinking that color is your only option for alteration on this versatile garment, though! For our newsletter this week, we featured the Modern Wrapper in five Shibui yarns, paired off to create unique textures and fabrics all their own. These are being offered through the end of January this year (at an amazing price) as kits in our store, and online too.
To delve into the differences, you really have to dissect the qualities of each individual yarn involved. Shibui Silk Cloud, Linen, Baby Alpaca, Cima and Pebble are featured. Let’s talk about what makes each of them ideal for this cardigan when combined.
Shibui Silk Cloud has long been a favorite in our shop. The skeins are relaxed and beautiful, catching any light around them and reflecting it back. Mohair and silk are both highly reflective fabrics, and combined they create a yarn that has an innate sheen and glow to it. Like most mohair yarns, the halo floats away from the silk core; when knit, this creates an airy space to each stitch, especially when worked on large needles. Knit at a denser gauge, the fabric is soft but lacks the elasticity and memory you’d desire for a garment that will get constant wear.
Pebble, Shibui’s newest yarn, is an ideal companion for Silk Cloud. Pebble has the benefit of being silk paired with two more elastic fibers—36% fine merino and 16% cashmere. The soft, fuzzy fibers of the cashmere and merino take dye slightly differently than the monofilament silk, giving Pebble a tweedy texture, both visually and physically.
Combining Silk Cloud and Pebble results in a fabric that is still lightweight with lots of drape, but also has some small measure of elasticity. This results in a Modern Wrapper that has a lovely halo, reminiscent of many of the fine, haute-couture brushed mohair fabrics seen on the runways this past fall season. Additionally, Pebble’s colored flecks give the fabric added visual depth, lending a bit of character to what would otherwise be miles of simple stockinette.
We believe that this particular version of the Modern Wrapper would be well-suited to a variety of climates. Silk thermoregulates, making it a breathable fabric in both cool and warmer temperatures, while mohair, merino and cashmere add a bit of warmth without being heavy. When we knit this pairing, we went down to size US 9 needles to get a smoother fabric, which in the end did not have an adverse effect on the sweater’s finished measurements. Since mohair and silk both grow a bit, it could be wise to do the same in your own version.
Baby Alpaca is one of those yarns you have to feel to believe. Often, customers will overlook these squishy skeins until one is placed in their hands. Once you’ve felt how soft and decadent this fiber is, you’ll forget all about any previous, unmentionable, ‘itchy’ alpaca you’ve been acquainted with. The gentle three-ply of this yarn allows the alpaca’s natural drape and halo to shine. While this yarn is a favorite for garments, it’s important for the wearer to remember that the finished fabric will always have drape, and often this means that it’s good to pair alpaca yarns with textured stitches to help ‘hold’ them in place.
Shibui’s Linen, which has an unusual chain-link structure, enters a wonderful balancing act with each stitch. While linen traditionally is a fiber that tends to grow and stretch (therefore making garments that often look a bit like they’ve been wrung out slowly over time), Shibui’s cleverness in the construction of this yarn actually creates a more stable fabric. The crispness that people love in linen wovens is reflected in final knitted stitches, without all of the stretching, since when the fabric is pulled in one direction, the structure of the chain-ply is simultaneously pulling the other way.
If you live somewhere cooler, the kit featuring Baby Alpaca and Linen would be an excellent choice. With this weightier combination, the slouchy fit of the Modern Wrapper is emphasized. Alpaca and linen are both fabrics known for drape but in combination this fabric has a unique crispness to it that results in an unusual finished texture. The final feel lies somewhere between supremely soft and lightly structured, with a slight halo.
Last but certainly not least, Shibui Cima and Shibui Silk Cloud pair for the third in this collection of fabric favorites. Cima, a two-ply lace yarn made from 70% superbaby alpaca and 30% fine merino, has more bounce and memory than Baby Alpaca. The resulting material also weighs less, creating an airy fabric with excellent drape.
Silk is one of the strongest natural fibers in existence, and in this pairing, Silk Cloud lends not only sheen and substance to the lightweight lace yarn, but also strength. By lining each stitch up with both yarns, the finished Modern Wrapper is hard wearing and lightweight, with plenty of shine. The smoothness of the Cima and Silk Cloud combined creates a piece that could be worn into early spring, especially when paired with silky dresses or floaty tops. This is an excellent choice for those working in cooler, air-conditioned office environments.
Whether you choose one of our pairings or create one of your own, it’s important to evaluate the yarns that you are combining. Using yarns that are designed to go together, like the collection of textures from Shibui, helps make these decisions easy. (And so does special pricing on an amazing kit, only available through the end of January!)