The maple leaf stitch pattern is really a distraction to keep me from realizing that I don’t have an actual project on the needles at the moment. I needed this, because my handspun alpaca was not cooperating.

It might look friendly and pettable, but it’s really very coy.

I started thinking about possible stitch patterns for this yarn while I was spinning it. Then, I skeined it and thought some more. It needed something with a strong pattern that can handle the irregularities of a beginner’s handspun, and it needed to be open so that I could get a good sized piece out of the yardage that I have. (I don’t have my spinning notebook with me in Germany, but I think it’s about 150-200 yds.)

At first, I thought that an ostrich plume or some feather and fan variation would do it, but then I just wasn’t interested in those patterns when I started swatching. I tried several other kinds of lace, and none of them were working. I ran out of sock knitting, and switched to the Malabrigo yarn in desperation. We know where that went: colors in the Malabrigo led to ideas of leaves, ideas of leaves led me to swatching in sock yarn, and now suddenly I’m playing with stitch patterns.

But I still wanted a project.

Some projects jump into my mind fully formed, and some of them need to be coaxed out. The alpaca handspun needs to be coaxed.

I’ve been alternating between the maple leaf rag (as I am now affectionately calling it) and the alpaca for a couple of weeks now. I’m not sure that I can call the alpaca project designing. It’s more like flirting. Or wheedling. This yarn will not put up with just any random design idea. No, no. It needs to be wooed into a pattern, not designed.

In fact, I probably tried somewhere between 5 and 8 different stitch patterns before I found one that would work. After several “not quite” patterns, I finally found one that I liked with the handspun yarn. It’s called Waving Lace (from Barbara Walker #4):




















There are a few mistakes in this swatch, but you get the idea.

I have liked this stitch pattern for a long time, and it holds up well to the unevenness in the yarn. The pattern is strong enough and solid enough that a few bumps here and there don’t completely obliterate the lace, and I love the undulating columns.

Unfortunately, it takes too much yarn. I would not be able to get much more than a scarf out of this lace with the yardage I have. Add to that my inability to remain interested in the same lace pattern for the entire length of a stole, and you have a requirement for a second stitch pattern. So, I looked for something even more open that would work with the Waving Lace.

I found it in the Rick Rib (BW #2):

I love the columns and zigzags in this stitch pattern, and it’s really simple to knit. It is worked on both sides, but it is a three-stitch repeat, and it just flies along. And all those yarn overs make for a very stretchy fabric, perfect for stretching out a short supply of yarn.

So those are the first steps. Two stitch patterns that work with the yarn, and that will (hopefully) allow me to get the length that I want out of the yarn that I have. And now, to turn them from swatches into a stole.