One of the most exciting orders we placed at TNNA this year was with Alchemy Yarns of Transformation. We first discovered Alchemy at last year’s TNNA, when we dipped our toe in the water with a few colors each in two of their yarns, Silken Straw and Sanctuary. Back home at the shop, the Alchemy yarns were a hit; many admired the sample White Caps Cowl that Anne knit up, striping Silken Straw with Habu Cotton Nerimaki Slub. We loved seeing the different color combinations that our knitters put together, and it wasn’t long before our stock of Silken Straw had dwindled to a mere handful of skeins. We knew we’d dive in deeper with Alchemy the second time around, and now that our big TNNA order has arrived, you can see exactly how deep we dove.
At TNNA in June, we sat down with Gina and Austin Wilde, head alchemists over at Alchemy, and they helped us carefully select an astonishing 20 colors in Silken Straw, and 8 in Sanctuary, a soft and springy blend of merino and silk.
The two yarns are often used together in Gina Wilde’s signature shibori felted designs, so it was important to create complementary palettes in each yarn. We admired all of Alchemy’s knit samples at market, and came home with two special skeins to create an Alchemy sample of our own: the Simple Shibori Cowl.
This lacy cowl is constructed of both Silken Straw and Sanctuary in a straightforward feather and fan pattern, then (gulp) thrown into the washing machine to be felted. The Sanctuary felts because of its merino wool content, shrinking into a fuzzy, velvety stripe whose individual stitches are no longer distinguishable. Meanwhile, the Silken Straw stretches out, becoming softer and draping gently.
I confess, I held my breath as I tossed the cowl in my washing machine, but it quickly became clear that there was nothing to be afraid of. I checked every minute or two to see how the felting was progressing and removed the cowl when it was done, then laid it flat to dry. The transformation was fascinating, and the finished cowl is lightweight and lovely.
Want to make a Simple Shibori Cowl of your own? With all these colors, there are many beautiful combinations to choose from.
Look for the Simple Shibori Cowl pattern in the Alchemy pattern binder, where you’ll find plenty of interesting uses for these singular yarns.
Anne has a Wisdom Wrap on the needles, a little over halfway done–more on that another day. Come by the shop to see all our Alchemy yarns and patterns, and to plan your next project!