Ah, March. It’s the time of cherry blossoms, daffodils, spring break, and the MDK Knitting Bracket. I love the MDK March Mayhem bracket- voting for a pattern in each category to take the knitters choice award brings me true satisfaction. But the biggest joy is shuffling through the pool, finding new designers to add to my inner circle of designer bffs (yes I have a ravelry bundle for that), and new patterns that make my very selective queue.
There are some wonderful designs featured in this years bracket, and I wanted to highlight ones that would be perfect for reclaimed yarns.
What makes a good pattern for reclaimed yarn?
It can be tricky, a bit of an art, to match a good pattern with reclaimed yarn sources. It takes practice and even the most experienced of us fail from time to time. I find that a good pattern for reclaimed yarn must have a few qualifications.
(Just a refresher, when I’m talking about reclaimed yarn, I’m talking about yarn that is gathered from unraveled commercial machine knit sweaters)
First, it cannot be designed with unique or very specific yarn. Knitting with reclaimed yarn is all about yarn substitution – like basically only about this. It’s tricky to find mohair or self striping yarns in the machine knitting world, so if a pattern depends on a unique yarn to achieve that gorgeous look, it’s not the best match for reclaimed yarn. I save these specialty yarn patterns for my special occasion knitting projects that warrant a trip to my LYS. So count out any patterns that depend on mohair, handdyed speckles, or a unique fiber content.
Second, it fits typical machine knit yarn weights. I most often find light fingering or light worsted weight yarns used in machine knit sweaters. Lace weight yarn is also common, but not my favorite to unravel, so I tend to avoid this category of sweater. Bulky can be found, but its tricky and when I find it, it’s usually acrylic… so I avoid it.
Third, it could work with a marl. Knitting with reclaimed yarns and marl-ing go together like your favorite food pairing (avocado and toast… tortilla chips and salsa… banana and peanut butter… I could go on). It just works well together. This is the best way to achieve different weight (especially bulky) yarns using reclaimed sources.
Fourth, it’s simple. I love a good allover cable or colorwork sweater. But… they’re just not the best patterns for reclaimed yarns. Sure there are exceptions, like my Ushida Cardigan which was a destined match, but most machine knitting yarns aren’t right for cables (they have little to no ply) or colorwork (unless you find Shetland yarn jumpers!!!) Colorwork also depends on knitting with different colors of the same or incredibly similar wooly yarn, and that’s just hard to find when you’re working with scavenged sources. Plus, these patterns tend to use a lot of yarn, and machine knit sweater quantities tend to produce less yardage than a handknit sweater quantity would. Like I said, it can be done, but these are special and lucky circumstances. So count out all over cables, substantial colorwork, or projects that use a lot of yarn.
Okay so we’ve set the parameters for a great reclaimed yarn pattern, now let’s talk about MDK bracket!
Rainy Drops by eri. The simplicity of this sweater and makes it perfect for reclaimed yarn. Plus the two options for sleeves are key when you’re not totally sure of your total yardage. If you’re running short you can always knit the straight sleeves. But if you have enough I highly recommend that balloon sleeve shape.
Tuileries by Julie Knits in Paris is perfect for those luxury blend machine knit yarns. The simple shape and slightly cropped length are sure guarantees that you’ll be able to make this sweater out of one machine knit sweater quantity.
Pixham by Jimenez Joseph. It’s simple and it would work well in wool or cotton or any blend (and the blends in reclaimed yarn are plentiful).
Rockefeller center by Xandy Peters is short sleeved so you definitely won’t run out of yarn. Also another pattern that could work in a huge variety of yarn blends.
Tulip by Ririko is another many-optioned knit that would ease those yarn chicken worries. I would go for the hip length bell sleeve option.
Cardizen by Bayron Handmade. This sweater is bulky, but it would work beautifully with a marl. Two worsted weight sweaters would make one amazing marled Cardizen.
Rumor by Alice Caetano is in in simple garter stitch yet the interesting construction would keep me hooked, plus it’s fitted and on the shorter side – perfect for low yardage sweater quantities.
Mariage Soeurs by Kathleen Dames is a great match for those luxury fingering weight blends.
Natsu by Ambah OBrien is perfect for those cashmere blends all over the machine knit sweater landscape. Plus the low yardage requirements and loose gauge are a reclaimed yarn knitters dream.
Neck and shoulders
Lumens by Fiona Alice is a marl match made in reclaimed yarn heaven
Smilla by Christin Kimsey is simple, low yardage, and could work in a variety of yarn types and blends.
You could make two or three Eva Cowls by Noma Ndlovu with one reclaimed sweater… brilliant.
Hands and Head
Tredje by Irina Anikeeva are simple elegant fingerless mitts that fit all the above parameters.
Ephemeris by Hunter Hammerson is a fingering weight reclaimed yarns dream hat pattern.
Snap by Tin Can Knits. Easy hat for any yarn ever. Perfect for reclaimed yarns.
The beautiful lace/bobble combo in Magnolia by Camilla Vlad would level up any reclaimed yarn.
I think any of these patterns would be a fantastic match for that unraveled sweater yarn in your stash.