Koigu Othello Yarn & The Fourth Wall Throw
I was recently asked by the fabulous yarn company Koigu to use and review their gorgeous, squishy Othello yarn. You guys have seen some of the blanket I designed in my weekly making updates and on my Instagram feed, but I wanted to take a minute to tell you more about this company and my experience working with this delightfully fluffy fiber.
First things first: I am a Shakespeare fan. My father – an insurance agent and ardent comic book fan – has an unexpected love of the bard. In high school, when I was struggling my way through Hamlet for the first time, he met me with a surprising enthusiasm and told me how important it is to really experience Shakespeare, not just read his words. So I picked up the film rendition of Hamlet to see if there was any merit to what my dad was telling me. Mel Gibson, for all his questionable choices and, you know, scary domestic violence incidents and stuff, played a pretty great Hamlet. Suddenly, Hamlet's plays at insanity – "Aye, sir, you are a fishmonger!" – came to life for me, and I got it. It was funny, and lively, and beautiful.
My dad and I have bonded over a lot of things, and loving Shakespeare is one of my favorites. One of his all-time favorite characters in all of the bard's plays is Iago, the mischievous and loquacious antagonist of Shakespeare's Othello. I was an English major in college, and when I saw that a traveling Shakespeare troupe was coming to my campus to perform a bare-bones, stripped down version of Othello with no stage sets and limited costume work, I knew we had to go. My dad traveled three hours to watch with me. We were both most excited to see Iago, who routinely breaks the invisible "fourth wall" dividing the characters of a stage from the audience members, come to life. Not surprisingly, Iago leapt off the stage, delivered impassioned and deft lines directly to the audience, and left me in awe both of language and of the endurance of literature.
When Koigu approached me about this project, I perused their website to pick out one of their many lovely yarns, and was drawn immediately to Othello – initially because I was struck by the name, and persistently because of the squishy beauty of the yarn itself. I didn't have to think very hard about it. It was an obvious pick.
Recently, I asked a Kersti Landra of Koigu how they came up with the name. As it turns out, the name of the yarn has nothing to do with Shakespeare or his famous "moor," but a sheep. A big, fluffy, beloved family sheep, to be precise.
But that's okay. Inspiration can come from all kinds of places, even places that, it turns out, have nothing to do with what you thought they did! I was inspired by a yarn that called me back to my English major days and reminded me of one of the things that has drawn me closer to my dad. And it fueled my designing process; I sought out stitches and patterns that would remind me of the stage curtain, that big piece of fabric that sits right where the invisible "fourth wall" exists. The blanket I created is meant to be reminiscent of the stage. The bulk of the blanket design moves like a curtain, rippling and ribbed, offering texture and a slate for language.
Working with Koigu was a delightful experience for a novice designer like me, and I was honored to contribute to a pattern collection they will be publishing very soon. I was also really honored to see other designers around the community (many of whom I have admired for a long time) working with the same yarn that I was. I'm really excited to see the final product(s) of this big, collaborative process, and I'll definitely let you guys know when this pattern is available to you!