Several years ago, I had to make last minute Christmas presents, and needed to buy my yarn in a rush. I made two scarves. One of them was going to a person who wanted something to match her winter coat and has very specific preferences. Because I was in a hurry (I found out I’d need to make them six days before Christmas, and I had to give them both on the 25th) I needed to choose thick yarns for a very Fast Knit! I was stuck and felt I’d gotten my Christmas miracle when the local Zellers’ provided three yarns, a lovely soft one for one scarf, and two complimentary yarns in the right colours for the second, one of those two yarns was a novelty boucle. Well the first scarf flew off my needles and I was thrilled since time to knit was limited. I pulled out the boucle and a smooth sports weight yarn, cast on and began a week of torture. The little pieces of fibre that made up the boucle were large, and they got caught on everything! They tangled in the stitches, hooked on the ends of both needles and prevented the yarn from drawing smoothly through the stitch loops. Since there were two yarns and one was variegated (plus the time limitations) I had decided (unusually for me) to make a plain garter stitch scarf, a garment I could not have imagined would give me a moment’s trouble. I found myself labouring painfully through each row at a speed I haven’t knit at in over twenty years. It was impossible to establish any sort of rhythm (even a slow and deliberate one) since the fibre kept catching and pulling. I struggled through the last rows late Christmas Eve sitting up in bed to get it finished before the morning’s present opening. I was very upset that it was too late for me to give the scarf the bath and pat down (generally known as blocking) that I give All my garments before I think of them as finished. But relieved to have finished it almost in time I wrapped it up and gave it away with profound relief, and a lasting dislike of thick novelty boucle!!!
I did not share any of those thoughts or feelings when Isabelle excitedly told me that she’d had boucle yarn spun, …
I did devoutly wish she’d mentioned it before sending the fleece out, but it was too late for commenting. So what to do/make with this yarn I disliked with a passion. Well to begin with I ignored it for as long as possible. As I set about choosing patterns to show off Isabelle’s different (lovely) yarns I consulted extensively with Jackie E-S of Heart Strings Fiber Arts. Her advice was invaluable! Finally, it had to be done, I repressed my dislike and bravely requested her advice about a pattern to showcase boucle yarn. Jackie suggested her Loop-D-Loop scarf.
This deliciously soft boucle has decorative pieces of fibre that unlike my previous experience are proportionate to its yarn. They are well spaced and not once has one caught on a needle tip, snagged in a stitch or prevented my smoothly drawing the yarn through a loop. In the first project I worked I wondered if the second yarn was helping to keep things moving smoothly as the two clung together nicely which made working with a doubled yarn unusually easy.
But when I knitted up some of the leftovers from the scarf into one of Jackie’s adorable little bunnies (this fabulous pattern is available for free on her site) I used only the boucle, on much smaller needles and worked a square of stocking stitch in no time at all. I was very pleased with how both of these projects turned out, but it wasn’t until I made a soap sack a few months later that the true beauty of this yarn was revealed to me. I made the sack using a mid sized needle in plain stocking stitch, and when I cast it off I couldn’t stop petting it. Everyone I showed it to had the same reaction, stroking and touching the wonderful, velvety soft fabric the boucle had created.
After making a couple more sacks (and petting them along the way) I wanted to knit something that would truly allow the texture of this yarn to shine.
So Isabelle supplied the yarn to make this luscious crib blanket. On size 6 mm needles I cast on one hundred and thirty stitches. After a border worked in garter stitch I made a row of eyelets. I then continued the blanket with a ten stitch border in garter stitch, adding eyelets every fifth row and working the generous centre panel in stocking stitch. I was considerably surprised to find I had cast on a piece of fabric that measured forty-seven inches across, substantially larger than the blanket I had planned. You may remember it from our post The Perfect Baby Blanket where we showed you a picture of it shortly after I began working the centre panel. I knit it to a length of thirty-seven inches, finishing it with a matching eyelet row and garter stitch border. It used about four and a half skeins of boucle. I was pleased with it while it was in progress (although I did wish it had been completed before we enjoyed an intense heat wave with very high humidity) but once it was washed the yarn/fabric bloomed slightly and came fully into its own! The texture simply has to be felt to be truly appreciated!
Opinion is divided (I suspect it depends on how much the feel of it matters to you) on which is the right side. The knit side of the stocking stitch is smoother and almost silky to the touch, while the purl side has a texture I can best describe as rich, velvety and furry. (Guess you know which side of the debate I fall on.) The combination is indescribably cuddly and cosy. I threaded a mocha coloured satin ribbon through the eyelets to give it the finishing touch, and here you see the final product, ready to tuck someone special up in their crib, or to drape over the knees of a person who has to sit still for long periods of time, … a snugly lapghan, or a blanket for baby.
As you may have noticed I have been completely converted, I adore this boucle, and am looking forward to casting on a new project with it at the earliest opportunity! I’m thinking of a drop stitch scarf, … we’ll keep you up to date.