Just so we are clear, I have never actually heard an Irish person utter the words 'Top of the morning!' But the phrase popped into my head the first time I wore this sweater. I had stepped out into my garden, and it was covered in dew - the drops reflecting the sky's blues and lilacs onto the green blades of grass. As the sun gained its strength the colours danced and shimmered, and it struck me how well this colour-play matched the yarn of the top I had just knitted. And so, both literal than tongue in cheek, 'Top of the Morning' it became.
The yarn is a very special rustic cotton-linen blend from Woolfinch Studio - a County Clare-based yarn seller and dyer, with whom I am quite smitten at the moment!
I am not exactly sure now how I discovered Jennifer of Woolfinch Studio, but it was probably either through instagram, or through browsing Etsy for indie yarn sellers based in Ireland. And as soon as I stumbled upon her shop, I remember being amazed that I liked nearly everything in it. From the yarn blends she chose to stock, to her colour schemes and other aesthetic choices, to the overall 'vibe.' It was all just so wonderful.
While I was seriously enticed by her plant-dyed silk, alpaca and yak blends, I managed to be sensible and ordered instead the stuff I was actually looking for: a moderately priced textured cotton-linen yarn for summer. There must be an official name for this type of yarn, because I see it in the fashion industry from time to time. Jennifer describes it as 'rustic,' so I will go with that. But basically the yarn is spun unevenly, so that it randomly alternates between lacy and chunky. In the knitted-up fabric the effect translates to a beautifully textured gauzy look. The yarn Jennifer stocks is produced for her in small batches, and is available either undyed or in several striking variegated colourways. I chose the 'Moonlight,' which is a mix of lavenders, greens, and blues, and ordered four 100g skeins. I didn't have a concrete idea of what I wanted to make out of it yet, but I knew it would be some sort of breezy summer top.
When the yarn arrived, I was stunned. The colours were somehow simultaneously muted and luminous. And the texture was so soft, I kept wanting to rub the skeins against my face. I remember that I actually went back and checked the product description to confirm that it was cotton-linen and not a silk blend. Amazing.
I experimented at first with some flowing, sleeveless, asymmetrical-hem designs. But for whatever reason this yarn didn't 'want' to become that. What it seemed to want was something basic, understated, and cropped. So I tried a simple raglan top with a round neckline and tapered waist and cuffs - kind of like an early-90s American sweatshirt. And as soon as I began to knit that, I knew that was it. The juxtaposition of this design's familiar simplicity and the yarn's exhuberance worked perfectly. Knit up on slightly oversized needles, the amount of drape and movement created by the yarn and pattern combination was also spot on.
Knitting up quickly, the yarn was such a tactile pleasure to work with, that I sent a note to Woolfinch to tell her that. This set off a series of conversations, which eventually led to us deciding to work together. For some time now, I had been hoping to meet a small independent yarn seller with whom I could work with to create patterns. As it happened, Jennifer had been hoping to meet a pattern designer who could work with her yarns. So... here we are. I am delighted to now be working on some designs specific to Woolfinch Studio yarns.
As a start to our collaboration, we will be releasing the 'Top of the Morning' pattern at the end of May. It will be available as a standalone pattern, and also as a kit with Woolfinch Studio's stunning Rustic Cotton-Linen blend. Please stay tuned, and I will announce the release date shortly - along with more details about this easy summer pattern. In the meanwhile, do visit Woolfinch Studio either on instagram or at her etsy shop, to have a look at her beautiful plant-dyed yarns and other offerings.