For quite some time I've been thinking about writing a series of patterns that are inspired by textures in nature and that highlight unusual and eco-friendly yarns.
This pattern -- the Woodland Collar -- is the first. The seeds of this project were planted nearly a year ago, and I'm happy to finally present it to the world.
It is inspired by the deeply etched textures of certain tree barks: oak, elm, white pine. I wanted to evoke those textures in a small garment, as if it were a strip of bark to wrap around oneself.
I tried to give the construction an organic feel, with deep vertical cables and a subtle flare at the base. Probably my favorite element is that it uses the gaps created by the cable crossings as buttonholes, so you can change the way it fits and drapes by buttoning at different places.
I spent a long time searching for a yarn that would make for an interesting riff on tree bark. The yarn that I finally chose is a handspun camel yarn from Mongolia. It is produced through The Snow Leopard Trust, which is an NGO that partners with communities in Central Asia to protect snow leopard habitat.
The yarn is soft, but it's definitely a rustic, handspun yarn with a few guard hairs scattered throughout. It was that rough edge that I thought would properly evoke tree bark.
I knit a second version using a beautiful blue-purple yarn from Nanney Kennedy's Seacolors Yarn. I fell in love with her philosophy and her yarn -- Maine wool, minimally processed, solar dyed -- when I visited her farm back in August. The Seacolors yarn has a lot of spring to it, and it makes for a livelier, snugger collar compared to the drapey camel version.
The pattern is a great way to try out single skeins (100g, of course) of worsted weight yarn. I'm knitting up a cool one in Noro Kureyon. And one of the women in my knitting group has made a gorgeous version in Malabrigo.
If you're interested, there are three ways to get this pattern. You can purchase and download it from Ravelry. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org to buy it straight from me. Or you can try to win it by leaving me a comment on this post by 11/21/08 (next Friday). I'll draw a winner for every ten comments. And if you win and have already bought the pattern, I'll send you a refund and an extra little prize!!