designs & yarns

Provençale by la Droguerie

I impulsively bought pink summer chinos last year despite my age (but you know, old people look better with bright colors). They looked lovely (light old rose pink!) and the size was perfect when I tried it on and the fabric was nice too. But when you buy something impulsively, you don’t always have the things that go with it in your wardrobe. I wasn’t very sure that the tops I wore with it were well coordinated and thought: “I can make a sweater that is a perfect match!

IT should be in a natural color, in cotton for warmer months, ideally in slub cotton but with a hint of wool to keep the shape… I narrowed down the search (perhaps too much) and my search on the Internet was not very fructuous. I found a slub cotton yarn for weaving but it was American and expensive, and when I thought about the shipping cost, I had to give it up (and what to do if the yarn wans not good?). I had a feeling that there are not so many cotton yarns in Europe, perhaps just because cotton doesn’t grow here.

One day, it came to my mind that la Droguerie, a French craft hobby’s store chain, had a recycled slub yarn and went to their store in my town. Their yarns are displayed in skeins or cones and the sales clerks wind in ball the quantity you need.
Waiting for my turn, I spotted a natural-colored slubby yarn: The label reads the fiber content is bourrette silk, linen and wool, although the main fiber content is not cotton, it felt soft and rustic at the same time… Isn’t it THE yarn I was looking for?

At my turn, I asked about the yarn. The gauge was larger than I had expected (17 stitches for 10 cm), and it was available only in that natural shade (I asked if it would be discontinued soon). And the yarn I was there for was much darker than on the PC screen and I decided to try this yarn.

And I googled “bourrette silk” at home: it is silk fibre made of waste you obtain after reeling a long, first-grade thread from cocoons (wikipedia: Bourette). A silk worm cocoon cannot entirly made into a long thread and the leftover can be transformed into silk fiber of various grades. I also read that nothing is lost in silk processing – it’s very ecological fiber!

The yarn contains 45% of bourette silk, 35% linen and 20% wool. The yarn is spun with thin linen strands (front) and silk/wool blend strands.

And when knit, the linen threads add sheen and elegance to the rustic slubbed silk/wool.

The specsheet of the yarn (they note the dye lot and the colorway you bought on it) says that the yarn is called Provençale (meaning “of Provence”) because of the sericulture tradition in this South-Eastern region of France. I, as an Asian, had thought that Europe imported silk produced in Asia (China, India and Japan!) all the way through (and this is why we have the “Silk Road”). And I discovered that (thank you Google) a XVI century French agronome calculated the import costs that turned out to be very expensive and suggested to the King of France to produce silk in the country. Murberry trees were planted in the South, and the sericulture started. The production was at the highest in the mid XIX century but declined after this date because of the week “competitiveness” of the French silk and the invention of synthetic fiber. The sericulture is very limited nowadays.

The yarn lookd all the more interesting that wool and linen blended with it are traditional European fibers (no country of origine for fiber on the sheet though), and I bought a cone!

The cone was not “mobile” but it was totally adapted to this project, because the sweater is reversible and I had few ends to weave in.

I have to add a word about this yarn becuase you may be intrigued with it. Very mysteriously, it is not listed on their French website and I’m afraid that it is available only in their brick-and-mortar stores. And for this reason, I hesitated to “patternize” this design.
Some knitters were enthusiast when I posted the photos, so I eventually wrote up the pattern. If you cannot put hands on this yarn, you can knit it with Aran weight yarn for this winter.
I’ll make a test call shortly, with modeled photos with pink chinos 😉

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