vintage licorice twist shrug

A few days ago, I showed the vintage yarn my mom helped me choose when I was five. I have since found my sister’s equivalent yarn with some of the tags attached! The yarn is made by Briggs and Little Woolen Mills and is a 2 ply, no 2/8. I’m not entirely sure what the last bit means but each skein is 113 grams and I have the bits and pieces of 4 of them.

At least, there were once 4 skeins and I think I have all the pieces. My mom actually started the sweater when I was eight (3 years after we got the yarn and pattern) but she forgot a buttonhole partway up the 2nd front, couldn’t face ripping it, and put it away. It was very away since I suddenly grew. I tried to make a generic pullover in high school, worked on it for a few months, and gave it up. It’s just as well since I was making a pattern with serious positive ease and never would have had enough yarn for a vest let alone a sweater with sleeves.

I’ve been looking for the right project for this yarn since I started knitting again. First I thought a hat since I make a lot of hats but it’s very thick and very scratchy yarn so I nixed that idea and kept thinking. Then I thought I could make a felted bag but I’ve never felted nor fulled anything and this yarn was always meant for a garment. Finally, I was inspired by all the shrugs and boleros I saw online including the beautiful Briar Rose by Ysolda and I figured it would be enough yarn for a shrug.

I didn’t use any of the available patterns because my gauge was slightly looser (I really hated this yarn when I tried to use smaller needles) on size 10 (6 mm) needles and I wanted something that met in the middle like a cardigan. I used Barbara G. Walker’s Knitting from the Top to learn about raglan construction – the best part was finding out there is a ratio of sleeve stitches to back stitches. It makes perfect sense that when knitting from the neck down, each arm/shoulder section will have 1/3 the number of stitches as the back or front but I’m not sure I would have figured that out on my own. Let’s just say it helped immensely to have a good reference book when I wanted to pull my hair out doing math. I have an engineering degree but between making measurements of my body and never having quite all the numbers I needed and not knowing exactly how I could shape the garment for the fit I wanted, it was enough to make me wish for some easy integrals. Maybe I should have taken more geometry! I don’t believe I ever learned about 3-D geometry, just flat things which might be why I had a hard time converting measurements of my body into garment measurements. I’ve finished the sleeves including the edging in Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted which I picked up thinking I was certainly going to run out of yarn (now I might make it…especially since I already bought extra).


I did a really simple cable pattern on the cuffs to spice it up a bit and because cables show up really well in the Lamb’s Pride. It was a K4, P2 ribbing, then in the K4 section, I crossed 2 stitches in the front every 4th round. I love how it looks and I even managed to calculate the correct number of stitches for the Lamb’s Pride since it knits up to a slightly looser gauge.

I wanted to finish it by this weekend but I’m going away and it’s way too hot in Blacksburg VA to bring it with me so I might have to start some socks or a lace scarf to work on there.


One response to “vintage licorice twist shrug

  1. Rhiannon,
    Don’t you just love solving the problems that come with knitting what conmes to hand rather than follwing a pattern?

    Have you seen this web site? I use it to help get started on top down raglans…very handy!

    You could also try spreading the decreases out around the yoke per the Elizabeth Zimmerman percentnage system if you work from the bottom up. Check out the book, The Knitting Workshop, if you haven’t seen it.

    Both methods work well!

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