fringe benefits: finishing aiona
May 17, 2020
Back around 2008 or so, there was a really simple but brilliant pattern that caught on like wildfire within the online knitting community: Melody's Shawl, published by Morehouse Farm. Back then, my knitting preferences were beginning to shift, less about interesting design elements or complex stitch patterns, and more about the yarn itself – I was falling in love with learning about different fibers' characteristics, different sheep breeds (I was also part of a new crop of handspinners then), and, with the preponderance of variegated hand-dyed yarns on the market at the time, how to work with multicolored yarns that had a tendency to pool together in unexpected, and sometimes undesired, ways. I had a few skeins of Morehouse's laceweight merino, purchased on a whim, and I wanted to find a project for it that allowed the yarn to be the focus, not upstaged by intricate stitch patterns or other busy elements. Enter Melody's Shawl.
The pattern had you cast on a great number of stitches to work in the round, and then knit a very wide stockinette tube that, when cut open after the knitting is complete, results in the equivalent of a lengthwise-knitted scarf or shawl (depending on how many rounds you worked—work more rounds, and you have a wider wrap). And, if you cast on additional stitches that aren't meant to be included in the finished length of the body of the scarf, abut those "extra" stitches with twisted stitches at either side, and cut down the middle of that section afterward, a simple magic trick of unraveling those stitches rewards you with built-in fringe.
Ta-da! It was brilliant—simple, but brilliant. Those extra-long rounds offered a potential solution to the typical pooling of variegated yarns and the way colors stacked or mixed in shorter rounds or back-and-forth rows, as well, and wave upon wave of knitters finally found the perfect use for that impulse purchase of brightly colored, variegated yarn that would often prove tricky to match to the right pattern. For these reasons, the pattern was immensely popular.
Aiona is an homage to this clever design, and my memories of that crunchy-soft, single-ply merino yarn are fond ones. It's one of the earliest projects I can remember being more about the yarn itself, and that desire to showcase its qualities in a simple but beautiful way. In some ways it set me on the path to eventually discovering Quince & Co, and these yarns spark that same explorative desire to find, or design, patterns that really suit the qualities of the yarn's best characteristics, first and foremost.
Our new Willet Naturally Dyed yarn features a five-color palette that looks stunning all together, and I wanted to design something that really showed them off as a group. I've chosen a seed and drop stitch motif in place of plain stockinette, and added bias shaping to create angled edges, but the base construction is essentially the same.
Here's a brief step-by-step of those final finishing steps, to help visualize that simple but brilliant brandishing of scissors that creates a fringed scarf from a knitted tube.
Step 1: With scissors and beginning at CO edge, cut yarn through center of stockinette section at BOR point:
Step 2: Continue cutting vertically up through the center of the stockinette stitch section:
Step 3: Cut all the way through the stockinette section, separating the edges:
Step 4: Unravel each row/strand of yarn until you reach the twisted-stitch at the edge:
Additional Fringe Options
Here's a short video showing the two options given in the pattern for additional fringe maneuvers: One involving adding more groups of fringe to the built-in strands freed from the cut-open, knitted tube, and another involving two staggered rows of knots to create a lattice from those built-in fringe ends.
scarf vs. wrap
Lastly, I wanted to mention that if you don't plan to add the additional fringe groups given in option 1, you should have enough yarn left over to add a third repeat of the 5 colors to your knitted tube, if you would like a wider, wrap-like scarf. Getting close to stated gauge, as always, is important for having enough yarn for working an additional repeat.
I loved knitting these botanical shades of Willet, dyed for us by Green Matters Natural Dye Co, and I hope you do, too. The colors really are something to behold in person, on the needles. They’ve sparked a pretty intense curiosity to explore the world of natural, plant-derived dyes, and I think it's safe to say we'll be seeing more of these kinds of natural beauties in the Quince lineup in the future.