New Favorites: A wrap too dear

amazing seed stitch wrap knitting pattern from the purl bee

Ever since this Amazing Seed Stitch Wrap pattern appeared on The Purl Bee the other day, I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. I’m going to venture a guess that Joelle Hoverson herself is behind this one, and in a lot of ways it’s the embodiment of what I love about The Purl Bee: their dedication to simple, unfussy patterns that are within reach, skill-wise, of the average knitter or crocheter. But while they keep the silhouettes and skills simple, the projects are far from boring. They demonstrate how brilliant it is to choose great materials and then not get in their way. (In all my years as a print designer, I was always more concerned with the choice of paper than what I was going to obscure it with.) This wrap, like I said, is perhaps the ultimate example of that — it’s just a seed-stitch rectangle! But the most stunning seed-stitch rectangle imaginable.

Unfortunately, the flip side of this particular coin is that, in this case, they’ve chosen the materials so well that it’s way out of reach, financially, for … well, certainly for me. They’ve put together a kit of the 11 premium yarns involved, and it can be yours for just $407.40 (plus tax/shipping). So … sad Karen, jealous of (and happy for!) the lucky Purl Soho customers who can actually afford to knit this. I’d say my new mission is to find yarn substitutions that would lower the price tag without compromising the result, but I’m not sure it can be done. It’s just so lusciously perfect exactly as it is.


22 thoughts on “New Favorites: A wrap too dear

  1. I drooled over this the other day when it hit my inbox, then I had a heart attack at the cost of the yarn. However, I think I’ll just find a way to make it to suit my budget.

  2. Ouch. I favourited as well, but didn’t check the cost as the overseas shipping would be ludicrous regardless. Can’t believe it is that much!

    Imagine it in neutrals, though….sigh.

    Think this might have to be one of those ones that you slowly hoard yarn for.

    • Well, hopefully it’s a hobby for everyone, and that includes the wealthy.

      I think it’s great that they manage to be both practical and aspirational. If it means sometimes I can only admire and dream, rather than partaking, well, such is life. But I wouldn’t want them to not share that beautiful wrap just because only a lucky few can knit it as shown.

      And who knows, maybe they’ll do an alternative version at some point they’ve done that before. But any quality yarn in that quantity is still going to add up.

  3. … wouldn’t it be so very nice if inspiration could come in budgets small and tall … such an elitist approach that misses the mark of truly educating, inspiring and nurturing a whole generation of fiber artists in every aspect … therein lies the virtue … and that mark is missed by them so many times over and over … Karen … I hope you continue to engage us in a purposeful dialogue that furthers the yarn endeavors of all your readers and that we will find ways of encouraging all of us regardless of a yarn budget or not … for if we are honest … we are all on a yarn budget … simple + beautiful = priceless and that endures and engages!

    • “I hope you continue to engage us in a purposeful dialogue that furthers the yarn endeavors of all your readers and … will find ways of encouraging all of us regardless of a yarn budget or not”

      That’s always my goal, Ina, but I think more in terms of skill levels or adventurousness than of budgets. Maybe we need to talk more about yarn substitutions, yarns that are an especially good value for the price, and the value of working with the best materials your budget will allow. Thanks for the nudge.

  4. I certainly didn’t mean to be opening a can of worms with this one, but in the end I guess I’m glad we’re having this discussion.

    I have the utmost respect, admiration and gratitude for what Purl Soho does with The Purl Bee. To Ina’s point, I think “educating, inspiring and nurturing” is exactly what they’re doing. For free! That site is an absolute trove of information, techniques, and quality patterns, available to everyone. It was an invaluable resource to me (one of several) as a beginning knitter with no knitting friends. They’re paying pattern designers, photographers, presumably tech editors, to do top-quality work. Lots of people would (either sell the patterns or) show the images and say the patterns were free with the purchase of the yarn, in which case a lot of those patterns really would be out of reach of most knitters. But they give them away for free. So I have a hard time seeing them as elitist.

    I’m also glad a market exists for premium yarns — beautiful cashmeres, etc. Not all of us get to knit with them, or at least not every day, but Purl has a different customer base than most stores, with deeper pockets. And if their rent isn’t the highest of any yarn store in America, I’m sure it’s in the top five. So obviously they’re going to be selling high-ticket yarns, along with more moderately priced ones. I want the premium yarns to exist, and the companies to be able to make them and make money doing it, so I’m glad there are customers for it and places they can go to get it — and happy that Purl gets to exist out of all of that. If I had $400 to spare, I would absolutely buy that kit!

    I also don’t think that inspiration has anything to do with budgets. Inspiration just is. It means getting the wheels turning in everyone’s heads about what they might do with an idea they got from a picture or a garment. I kind of regret implying that this couldn’t be made (and made beautifully) with different yarns, because of course it can. It would be different, but I’m not normally one to make something exactly as prescribed anyway — it’s too much like shopping rather than creating. Inspiration is what I’m looking for, much more than dictation. And Purl Bee is an amazing source of it.

    More power to them, I say.

    • I think this sums it up nicely! Purl is not a regular LYS, they are a high-end, luxury lifestyle brand. That’s not something that everyone can afford but they definitely have a market. I love shopping there (usually on special occasions) and it feels a little more indulgent than shopping at other LYSs. That being said, the Purl Bee designs are super accessible. Like you said, they’re simple and beautiful and easy to make. I think that they can translate to any budget seamlessly and that’s the beauty of them. They’re not like couture designs, they’re wearable! And sometimes simple objects can be elevated with a little something extra (say, cashmere).

    • Oop. Catching up on this belatedly. Hope I didn’t add fuel to the fire with my offhand comment!

      I guess the project was just so over the top expensive that it reminded me how lucky I am to be able to even afford this hobby…especially being the yarn snob I am! Moving to the UK from Canada has really opened my eyes to how thoughtlessly privileged I was – and still am. Just more aware of the gap these days as it feels more day to day apparent here.

      I don’t feel negatively towards Purl Bee AT ALL. Like others here, I love their site, am grateful for the lovely free patterns and if I was in New York would likely visit their shop often (though maybe would only shop there for the occasional splurge).


  5. I agree with just about everything that has been shared here… Purl was an invaluable resource for me in becoming more adventurous of a knitter! I can thank the Purl Bee for my love of sock knitting (sadly or not- depending on how you look at it- I was already a fan of luxury yarns when I discovered Purl). I have often been discouraged that I am now and most likely will never be able to knit most of their projects with the yarns suggested, but as you have pointed out Karen, I appreciate that they offer these patterns to us for free on a continual basis. Being a yarn nob on a budget, I have learned to look elsewhere for yarns for their projects- Webs for example carries many of the same yarns as Purl (and offers discounts on these yarns) so as I am sure Purl puts out the free patterns in hopes that we will purchase the materials from them, I choose to spend my yarn funds elsewhere, where I can stretch my budget (My LYS offers customer discounts regularly as well, and I will always try to shop local first!).
    PS. I think your blog is an amazing source of inspiration as well.

  6. I was just talking to someone about this sort of thing in context of fabric stores. We have Britex in the SF that must have enormously expensive rent and they have fabric to match. When you go in, it’s a curated experience, you are going to find things in there that you wouldn’t find elsewhere. I found that to be the same thing with the old Poppy Fabrics store in Oakland. Beautiful materials come at a cost and I’m happy they are there, for inspiration, aspiration, special occasions, to make me want to be a better sewer. The same is true in knitting. Store have to find their niche, there is so much choice, with online stores like Webs or Knit Picks, that if a brick and mortar store don’t create a strong brand, they don’t have a foothold. That’s what the Purl offers. I don’t know of any store that has a blog like the Purl Bee. It is a delight AND as you’ve pointed out it’s free.

    • Britex is a great comparison.

      Now you’ve got me wondering — is there such a thing as free patterns in the sewing world? I can’t think of a source, but I’m much less dialed in on the sewing side of things.

  7. I think being able to effectively substitute yarns is an important skill and fun to boot. Living in Japan means that most of the “name brand” yarns are totally out of my price range (usually the shipping is the killer). This used to get me down but now I find that is has actually helped me to become a better knitter because I need to understand a lot more about the composition and wear of different yarns in order to sub them effectively. Of course I wouldn’t say no to some luxury US yarns but I now know that it’s not the be all and end all of a project. Places like the Purl Bee inspire me to go to my LYS to try to find a yarn that will make a project 100% mine!

  8. A lovely simple wrap that is more inspiration than affordable. I’ve heard grumbling about the cost of some of their projects. Using liberty cottons for potholders. A thousand dollars worth of Merino for a giant granny square blanket. What would be affordable? A $200 wrap? A $50 one? For some $20 might be too much. I think their patterns and blog are gorgeous. And are within practically anyone’s budget.

  9. I’d LOVE it if you did something on yarn substitutions. I’m terrible at it. I see this wrap as being a bit like seeing a high end fashion image. You might not be able to afford it yourself but it’s something to stick on the pin board for inspiration. One of my first knitting projects was from the Purl Bee site (the bandana cowl and as you say they makes their projects very accessible for a nervous beginner.

  10. When a pattern is that simple is really needs beautiful yarn to make it sing and boy does it sing. $407 and sold out…sheesh!

      • … so … even I like the idea of something in cashmere … but truly only in small doses and manageable … because by the time that wrap is done it’s too heavy … too bulky … and very expensive to maintain … give me square … practical … good anytime … but let’s be reasonable about it!!! alas I find myself on a full out yarn diet this year but trust me it isn’t any withdrawal or longing for it that has me take the stand I do.

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