I love Alchemy’s Silk Purse yarn – it doesn’t split at all, and it feels heavenly. When I found this pattern, which mixes felting and non-felting yarns, I thought it would be fun to experiment with – I liked the idea of not really knowing what the final outcome would be until the scarf came out of the hot water – kind of like magic.
I have to admit to being a little disappointed with the outcome. The scarves are beautiful, but there is so little yarn that felts that it doesn’t really seem “magic” at all. Remember that silk won’t change when you wash it in hot water (except, I found, it isn’t so soft anymore and it becomes kind of stiff and crunchy – NOT a positive), but wool (or in this case, yarn that is 70% wool and 30% silk) felts – that is, it loses it’s stitch definition and looks less like yarn and more like felt (and, as a result, shrinks as well).
If you look at the photo above, you can see that the only yarn that is felting yarn is the two narrow strips of topaz running down either side of the wide aquamarine center strip. While I do think that the scarves are beautiful – largely because they call for three different yarns, so I got to experiment with color a lot – I think a scarf with proportionately more felting yarn might produce a more interesting result.
The other thing I didn’t like is that whoever knits Alchemy’s patterns must have some magic way of making yarn go further, because the pattern called for only one skein each of the three colors, and that wasn’t even close – I ran out of one of the silk purse colors before I was barely half-way through with the rows where it was called for, so I did some substituting. I did the same with both scarves, so as a result neither look exactly like the pattern, but I think they’re actually more interesting with a variety of colors, and with stripes of varying widths.
Topaz and Aquamarine scarf: Alchemy Silk Purse in Husk and Aquamarine, Alchemy Sanctuary in Topaz, and I used up my stash Debbie Bliss Pure Silk in Aqua (the light blue mixed in with the other colors really added dimension to the scarf overall).
Purples scarf: Alchemy Silk Purse in Amethyst and Passion Flower and Manos del Uruguay silk blend in Dove (I substituted Manos for Alchemy Sanctuary – the yarn called for in the pattern – because Sanctuary is extremely difficult to find, seems to be available only in limited colors, and Manos had the same composition – 70% wool, 30% silk). The pattern calls for one skein of each, but you either need two skeins of Amethyst, or you need to substitute in the other two yarns in order to finish off the pattern.
The scarf is knit on US 5 (I used 24” circulars) and it’s knit lengthwise – that is, you cast on over 300 stitches and then knit 58 rows (some in stockinette, some in garter, and some eyelet rows). It takes a LONG time to knit through one row – somehow it feels like it takes longer to finish this scarf than when you knit short rows end to end.
I’m including this next project of an example of the worst kind of project – one that takes loads of my time and a lot of expensive, specially ordered yarn, and then comes out totally unusable. When I found the Magician Scarf pattern, I also found this pattern in the Alchemy book – Midnight Train Hat. I loved the idea of the bright colors poking through the black background – almost like stained glass – and the idea of felting and non-felting yarns, so I gave this pattern a try. BIG MISTAKE. First, I used the yarns recommended, which was fine for the black (Alchemy Sanctuary in Blackest Black), but the pattern called for only one skein, and I barely was half-way through when I ran out – had to order a second skein. Second, I used Alchemy Silken Straw (one skein of Chica Pop!) for the “stained glass windows) – another big mistake, I hate this yarn! It really is just like knitting with straw – that’s its texture – and it looks that way once it’s knitted up, the rows don’t blend together but instead it looks like pieces of straw running through your knitting project.
Even though knit to gauge on the recommended needles – US 6 16” circular and dpns – and even though I used almost twice the amount of yarn the pattern called for (you’d think this would mean my finished project would be bigger, right?) when I felted the hat (just once through, just barely enough to remove the stitch definition) it came out so small that not only I couldn’t wear it, but my five-year-old couldn’t get it on her head!
What’s more, while it was way too small around, it was really tall, so even if I found someone with a small enough head to wear it, the hat probably would have come all the way down to their chin. I don’t know who created the dimensions for this project, but whoever it was did a lousy job!
So, this one goes on my “wow this was a huge was of time” pile . . .