You have likely already heard the news that Cephalopod Yarns is closing its doors. There are more details at Sarah’s blog. (Side note: Sarah’s writing is beautiful and everyone should be reading her blog because she’s a brilliant, kind, funny, honest person who writes with grace and gift.)
I am so sad to be saying goodbye to Cephalopod, and I honestly couldn’t write about this immediately because it’s hard to parse out what this company has meant to me. The people are foremost in my mind. I’ve made so many friends through knitting, and specifically through Cephalopod. They are a great bunch over there, and they make me miss Baltimore on the regular. I’ve found fellow writers, and feminists, and artists I wouldn’t know if it weren’t for this company.
Then there’s the yarn. No one does color quite the way Cephalopod does color. I love saturated deep layered color that lends its depth to the fabric we make, and Cephalopod managed to give the bright deep hues without creating anything unharmonious or jolting. I have reasons why I love other companies and their yarns, but Cephalopod hit a sweet spot with the richness that color can bring to knitting.
I started a collaborative project with Cephalopod last year and then fell horribly behind because school and lack of organization, but I’ve been picking it up again. One of my favorite colors of yarn, again and again, is a complicated brown. I love all of them, but especially rich, layered browns with notes of the colors that make up brown peeking through. Cephalopod did moody, complicated browns like no one else.
My idea was to release a small collection all in browns, and based on intricately carved wood. I proposed the idea to Sarah, and she sent me a bunch of gorgeous browns to make the garments that were in my head. It was meant to have been released last year, and I feel godawful that I didn’t get it done then, because I wanted to promote the beautiful intricacies of Cephalopod’s brown yarns.
But I do intend to get it done still, and when this announcement came, I was knitting away at this:
Backing up a little, I want to tell you about my plan for Carved from Wool. The idea came from the memory of a house I lived in as a child. California, in general, does not hold on to its history, so a house built in the ’30s was OLD. Our house had a lot of built in woodwork, including a bannister up the stairs with upright supports carved to look like the above cables. I was remembering that bannister and thinking about how much it looked like knitted cables, and it hit me that a lot of cables look like carved wood when knit in brown. And what better browns that the ones I had been admiring for ages?
I sat down and thought about it and came up with the idea for four patterns: two sweaters, a shawl, and a hat. One would be a cozy grandpa cardigan with bannister cables. Another would be a tunic pullover with carved wood cables creating the shaping. The shawl would have a gallery of arches and a cabled edging. And the hat would look like woodgrain.
The original order I’d planned for this was going to be the pullover first, but things went weird with that. I kept messing up the neckline, so I set it aside temporarily and worked on the hat and shawl. The shawl was released earlier this year as Fine Hewn.
I’m tremendously fond of this shawl, but I think the glorious color is what really makes it. Killer Bee is a beautifully intricate colorway, with golds and reds peeking out among darker hues.
I have a couple of hat samples for the woodgrain hat, yet to be written up.
My son is super proud of this hat, because he’s the one who suggested woodgrain to me.
The tunic is a tale of frustration. I knit it up according to plan, and then the neckline was all messed up, so I set it aside for a time. I picked it back up this summer and fixed the neckline, but when I tried it on, even though it looked like my sketch, and even though I adore the cables, it just didn’t fit in a flattering way.
Anyway, the long and the heartbreaking short of it is, I will need to reknit this one entirely. I like a lot of things about it, but I don’t want to release a pattern that results in a frumpy sweater. There is no waist shaping on this one, which was intentional, but the shape ends up adding bulk where it shouldn’t and not sitting in a flattering way where it should. I played around with some ideas of how to improve this, and I think I have it sorted, though I expect reknitting to be a bit of a slog.
And I thought that would be it for Carved from Wool, but a little while back Cephalopod offered a limited edition color that was another absolutely glorious brown, so I snapped it up on Skinny Bugga! to make another shawl. Fire Ant has the dark tones that are so beautiful in Bess Beetle, but with red highlights that really make it something special and different. I don’t yet know what that shawl will be like, but I hope to figure it out in time.
I will be releasing these patterns in Cephalopod yarns, but I will also take the time to try to come up with alternative options, since these particular yarns won’t be available anymore.
Goodbye, Cephalopod. You were loved, and you will be missed, but I’m so grateful for the time we got.