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Csilla and the Shorn Project

LBHandknits

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Quick Links:
Shorn Yan & Kits [sold out!]
Csilla Cowl
Csilla Hat
Yarn Launch Podcast Episode

Some time last year, Melissa Littlefield of the Knitting the Stash podcast ran a designers interview series in which I took part. And one of the questions asked was, what role does yarn play in my design process. For instance, do I have a design in mind, then look for a yarn to make it happen, or do I start with the yarn? This is actually a question I get asked a lot, and my answer tends to surprise the person I’m having the conversation with. Most of my designs start with the yarn - not the other way around.

That is not to say that I don’t have heaps of ideas twirling around in my head. The problem is that I have too many ideas; their sheer volume and vagueness can be debilitating. With yarn in hand, the process immediately becomes more real. Here is the yarn. These are its characteristics. What does this yarn want to become? The physicality and immediacy of the yarn sparks my imagination in a way that is not just creative, but actionable.

When Melissa invited me to design an accessory for the Shorn project, I knew that once the yarn arrived it would tell me what it ‘wanted’ to be. And I was right! Because nothing in my previous experience of yarns could have prepared me for Shorn’s unique blend of qualities.

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It has long been a dream of Melissa’s to produce her own farm-to-skein yarn. And the Shorn project is that dream’s realisation.

Shorn is a small batch yarn made from the fleeces of sheep who live just down the road from Melissa’s house in Illinois, USA. The yarn is minimally processed and worsted spun by Stonehedge Fiber Mill in Michigan. It is left undyed, with a creamy natural colouring.

This description may set up expectations for a wool that feels distinctly ‘rustic’ (read: a bit rough). But the remarkable thing about Shorn is this: It is next-to-skin soft. A blend of 80% Cormo and 20% Corriedale, the yarn was specifically designed with this in mind. And it is this combination of silky-softness and chemical-free, minimally processed, sheepiness that makes it so unique to work with.

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In addition to being soft and springy, Shorn is also quite silky to the touch and gives off a subtle yet distinct sheen which takes on different qualities depending on the angle from which it is observed. Even as I wound the yarn from skein to ball (which I always do by hand), I noticed these characteristics. And once I began swatching and playing around with stitch combinations, I became quite entranced with them. How crisply defined the knits and purls stood against one another! How sculptural the cables looked! How glossy the lace! But which to choose, to capture this yarn’s spirit?

The idea to use smocking evolved as I kept feeling compelled to play with the yarn by wrapping it around my fingers. I liked the look of the various stitches, but I also liked the look of the yarn in its own right. Smocking offered a way to incorporate unworked strands into the pattern.

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And thus, the starlike motif of Csilla was born.

Pronounced ‘heela’, Csilla is a Hungarian feminine given name that means ‘starlike’ and she is exactly what the yarn ‘wanted.’

I love the way the pattern and the yarn interact. The knit stitches, the purl stitches, and the wraps, each showcase this yarn’s subtle sheen from different angles. And the squish effect of the smocking further accentuates the natural springiness of the yarn.

The ornate motif is both 
top-down and inside-out reversible, making this cowl quite versatile in wear. Suitable for adventurous knitters of all skill levels, Csilla is a single-skein project 
ideal for showcasing those very special yarns in a way that is artful and wearable. 

In addition to the Csilla Cowl, there is now also a matching Csilla Hat design. Both patterns are compatible with a variety of DK weight yarns.

With a meterage of 230m/ 100g, Shorn is a light-DK. It is available from Melissa in 100g skeins, as well as in kits with the Csilla cowl and hat patterns. The pricing is very reasonable for an indie yarn, and keep in mind this is a very limited edition - so while supplies last, etc.!

If you are interested in small batch, minimally processed, locally produced yarns from the USA, Shorn is certainly a very special one that you will not regret snapping up.

For more on the Shorn yarn launch, watch the latest episode of Knitting the Stash. I am delighted to be included in this project, and thank you in advance for supporting it!