November was dark and cold. The sun was absent for weeks at a time, or so it seemed. So, when a huge shipment of Malabrigo yarns arrived at the store, the call of color and light overwhelmed me. One afternoon, the whole shelf full of Rasta bulky yarn somehow ended up on the work table, laid out in a grand array of rich, luminescent hues. What to make—a hat? A cowl? A poncho? A shawl? Somehow, none of these ideas was lighting me up.
And how could I possibly choose just one color, or two? As is frequently the case, the prospects seemed overwhelming and unsatisfactory—not quite right. Maybe if I let the whole thing steep for a bit, like a cup of tea, the yarn would tell me what to do.
I went back to stocking shelves. Then, unexpectedly, the miracle happened! The yarn jumped up and sang to me! It wanted to be an afghan. Not just a single luscious color afghan, but one that would run through the rainbow. It wanted all of the colors, not just one or two. Before long, 8 skeins were stretched side by side on the tabletop, a shimmering field of softest merino that progressed from apple green on one end to the richest purple on the other, with an incredibly rich range of colors through the center.
If you’re a Malabrigo person, you know what I’m talking about. A skein of Arco Iris carries sparkling little glints of color that is more deliciously evident in Archangel. The next skein of Archangel walks beautifully next to Anniversario, which then transitions effortlessly into Sabiduria. The project was springing to life!
Well, almost. There was yarn. There was enthusiasm. There was a credit card charge. But there was no pattern. I wound the skeins into balls (Commitment with a capital C), and took them home where I lined them up on my sewing table, from which they would greet me each and every day with a bright and cheery “We’re here!” They were ready. The search for a pattern commenced…
Over the next few weeks, I played with several ideas. Super big lace was a really appealing one, so the stitch guides came out. Barbara G. Walker and I had a nice cup of tea while I perused her collections. Although ideas for projects sprang gleefully from the pages, they just didn’t speak to the Rasta. I started something else, then another something. I might have even finished a thing or two, but the Rasta languished. My husband thinks I have a short attention span. That’s not true. I am what I would call an opportunistic knitter. Every project has its own time and space, and it’s best for me not to get too attached to any specific schedule or outcome. That’s up to the thing that is becoming. There’s almost always room for deviation from my “plan.” And so it was with the eight skeins of Malabrigo Rasta. There would be no afghan before its time.
And then I found it. While browsing through patterns on Ravelry, I ran across the Intermezzo Cowl by Skeinwalker Knits. It incorporates a lovely 8 stitch, 8 row repeat lace pattern that’s not too fussy while being lovely to look at. I’ll bet you know what happened next. I swatched and fell in love!
The Rasta Rainbow Afghan was born with 80 stitches on a size 17 needle and was knit so rapidly I’m not sure I even breathed while working on it. The colors played one right into the next. Using two, or three at a time, they echoed and reflected one another’s glory.
And by the time fifteen repeats of the pattern were completed, and two rows of border, I had (seriously) just enough yarn to bind off. I actually had to trim three exuberant tails from earlier color changes to make it to the end. But, oh, what a ride! I loved every moment of it! For now, this seriously beautiful, seriously indulgent, and seriously warm afghan lives with me.
And I think it’s actually bringing out the sun.
If you've ever struggled with the decrease section when knitting a hat on 16-inch circular needles, you need to learn the Magic Loop method of knitting. Similarly, if you hate how sweater sleeves twist up while knitting in the round, you need to learn the magic loop technique.
This technique works on just about any size project, so you can use it exclusively for smaller projects in the round, such as hats, sleeves, mittens, cowls, socks, and so on.
Kelley just finished knitting the Shift Cowl by Andrea Mowry, and she's fallen in love with mosaic knitting.
While it sounds complicated or fiddly—mosaics are made up of little pieces of glass, after all—mosaic knitting is super easy. Seriously, you end up with a beautiful colorwork project, but you're only using one color in each row.
Note: Please use the following sizing chart for general reference only. Sizes between different vendors and manufacturers may vary. Please match your measurements to those in the size chart below.