When I set out to design my most recent Lion Brand Yarn collaboration pattern, I knew I wanted to make something that really captured the essence of fall and the excitement in the air that comes with this season. Being a knitwear designer, these are the kinds of days for which you spend the rest of the year waiting and preparing.
I love that New York City has such distinct seasons like where I'm from in the Midwest. It allows for an extensive wardrobe and brings a new rush of excitement for the season to come. But for me autumn has so many special qualities that can't be matched by any other season. The crisp fall air makes me feel refreshed and motivated and brings with it a special mystical quality. Being able to wear cozy knits and actually style and layer an outfit is the most wonderful feeling. Although I'm 11 years out of college, I still get giddy when I think about back to school shopping. Fall fashion is something I always look forward to, particularly in NYC where just sitting on a street corner and people watching can entertain you for an entire day. It seems like everywhere you turn there is something pumpkin flavored - and that is never a bad thing. Speaking of pumpkins, nothing beats a trip to the pumpkin patch and apple orchard to stock up on seasonal fruits and veggies. Handmade fairs pop up all over and it's so inspiring to see what everyone is creating. And last but definitely not least, the fall season makes watching Hocus Pocus every day for the month of October totally acceptable. Halloween is by far my favorite holiday.
Living in NYC has its benefits for sure, but it also brings a lot of struggles and obstacles that living elsewhere alleviates. The hashtag #thestruggleisreal is seriously no joke. Growing up in Ohio, fall meant playing in the leaves, sleeping with the windows open, cardigans but no coats, bonfires and backyard parties. Fall in the Big Apple is still the greatest season ever, but it tends to last about three days - the only three days where you can actually get away with the "cardigans but no coats" look because the other days you're either really pushing for fall when it's still too hot and you end up sweating like a crazy person, or all of a sudden it's freezing but you're caught out on the street in nothing but a thin gauzy sweater that you just refused to put a jacket over because you didn't get the chance to show it off yet. When I'm in Ohio I go straight from the house to the garage to the car to a parking spot 10 feet away from my destination and can sometimes get away without wearing a coat even in the winter. It's a weird combination here in the city of not really being able to enjoy nature, but also having to be totally exposed to the elements at all times because most people walk everywhere and don't have the luxury of cars to shield them (side note: man do I miss having a trunk). On top of that, sleeping with the windows open means a restless night full of sirens and people shouting from the street, fall foliage is pretty hard to come by, no one has a backyard, and there definitely aren't bonfires (yikes if there were!).
So that leads me back to this latest pattern ... When I'm designing something I am always thinking about the feeling behind it. Where do I imagine myself wearing this? What does the air feel like and what kind of mood does that put me in? For this design I wanted something that would transport me back to those Midwest fall days of backyard parties and bonfires. What better than a giant wrap that could serve as a jumbo scarf and also a blanket? I instantly felt myself in a dreamy state sitting around a campfire telling stories with old friends and something like that draped over my shoulders. I realized this could also be functional for life in the city as either a super scarf in the streets or a throw for the couch.
I had never used Lion Brand's Fishermen's Wool before, but something about the idea of a cold sea breeze and oyster shucking on a dock while wrapped up in some undyed pure virgin wool sounded really appealing and I wanted to infuse that concept into the piece as well. I guess I always imagined this type of wool to be scratchy and outdated, but to my surprise this yarn was a dream to work with and is actually incredibly soft and squishy. The unprocessed quality of it means it still contains natural lanolin oil which helps with the soft hand of the yarn.
Then I started thinking about the fabric - is there anything more fall than plaid? I decided to go with a very subtle tartan vibe that wasn't too obvious but still added a little something that regular stripes couldn't achieve. After working up the whole piece in two sets of striping patterns, I threaded long strands of yarn onto a tapestry needle and wove them vertically up the blanket scarf to produce a light plaid-like effect. It almost makes the fabric look woven from a distance, which I absolutely love. I also chose to do all of the color changes on the wrong side of the fabric, which I think adds even more of a plaid look to the piece. Then the last bit of detail was added through the fringe. I chose to place a bundle on each corner and everywhere there was a yarn hanging out from the weaving part to hide the tails (anything to avoid weaving in more ends, haha).
The result is everything I hoped for and more. Wearing this piece totally takes me back to a more rustic way of life and it's already been useful for me as both a scarf/wrap and a blanket. You can find the pattern for the Campfire Blanket Scarf on Ravelry or my website, and if you're ready to dive in right away, you can get all the yarn you will need to make it for 20% off for a limited time on the Lion Brand site. I hope all you makers out there are enjoying this season as much as I am!