Yarn Selection (or, an exercise in stash enhancement)
First, an answer to Donna's question: Yes, the two entwined tree motif will be on the center of the afghan. I don't plan on changing the size, except for any changes that might occur because of my gauge size. But I'll know more when I swatch. The trees made me think of marriage--roots, entwined branches.
With the vaguest details of the afghan decided, we move on to the yarn selection. For an afghan, this is critical, I think. First, Sara will be gaining a young 2-year-old stepdaughter from this marriage (they will have her half the time, I think), and both she and her husband-to-be work full time. So washability is definitely a factor. Second, I've looked at relatively similar designs and estimated somewhere around 2400 yards of yarn for this afghan. This is not an inexpensive project, no matter what yarn you choose. Third, this is an afghan--it needs warmth (they live in Vermont), some degree of softness, and durability.
I started looking at the usual suspects--superwash wools and acrylic/wool blends. (Cotton would be too heavy in this blanket.) I was looking for worsted/aran weight, preferably more on the aran side; this decision was again based on my examination of similar patterns. Based on this, I narrowed it down to 2 primary choices: Cascade 220 Superwash or Plymouth Encore.
Then I remembered a yarn I had seen on Laura's blog last week. She had tested Cestari yarn from Chester Farms for a cabled sweater. This wool claims to be washable, and Laura put it to the test. It passed with flying colors and softened up beautifully. At $5.99 for a 210 yard skein, it was comparable to Plymouth Encore, and I've decided to give it a shot. After a quick phone call with an extremely pleasant employee, in which we debated the merits of several colors, I will soon be getting 12 skeins of a color somewhere between white and tan. Then the swatching will begin!
Next...Final Knitty SecretPal 5 package and visualizing the afghan design.