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My mother recently drafted me to workup a shawl with some Blue Heron Rayon Metallic yarn she purchased. The pattern was “Inflorescence” from Sock-Yarn Shawls by Jen Lucas. While the pattern was a delight to knit, I found the project mostly to be an exercise in yarn design and the question of how you choose a yarn for a given project.

Rayon Metallic Lace Shawl

Unblocked “Inflorescence” Shawl in Rayon Metallic

Rayon was an interesting fiber to work with, but I do not understand who could possibly think it was a good idea to start putting splinterous torture devices called tinsel into something meant to rub endlessly against your fingers. Yes, it’s shiny. Yes, it sparkles under light. But the sparkle is just not worth the pain.

The other problem I had with the yarn is that the multitude of colors in short runs lends to a rather muddy appearance. The yarn and the shawl are fighting each other in this project instead of playing off of one another for the stun factor, which is a shame, because as a skein, this yarn was quite lovely.

So there’s the question: how do you look at a yarn on the shelf and decide what project will draw out its best qualities? And when you’re spinning and dyeing yarn for a specific project, how do you figure out what will serve it best? Any advice?

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