Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Cables and Cashmere

About three years ago I bought the book Knitter's Stash and immediately put a bookmark in the page for the Cable-Wise Cashmere Pullover. I hadn't yet discovered Colourmart yarn, so cashmere seemed far too extravagant, but I envisioned the sweater in a merino or alpaca. Then other sweaters came along, plus a long spate of lace knitting, and I forgot about it. In the meantime I had succumbed to "a few" cones of Colourmart cashmere, and made the Sprinkle Lace Cardigan (plus its accompanying shell) from 100% cashmere DK, which didn't break the bank. A recent reorganization of my stash revealed 4 cones of a Colourmart cashmere-merino blend, and this sweater leaped to mind and was swatched and cast on practically before I could catch my breath.

Pattern: Cable-Wise Cashmere by Karen Damskey and Leslie Storman in Knitter's Stash
Yarn: Colourmart Cashmere/Merino 8/28NM DK Weight - color Air Force - approx. 400 gm
Size: XL
Needles: Denise US #7 and #6

The pattern required a little tinkering because the maximum size was too small, and because the initial swatch indicated that there would be some shrinkage after washing and blocking. (Like the Colourmart 100% cashmere, the cashmere/merino requires washing in hot water to remove the spinning oil and fluffing briefly in the dryer.)

The sweater as blocked and worn looks a little different from the one in the photo in the book. The reverse stockinette bands surrounding the cables are much more evident, both on the body and on the sleeves, but I don't think that detracts from the sweater at all, even if it isn't exactly what the designers had in mind.

Lesson Learned from this project: Weave in the ends, but don't snip them off before blocking. I keep finding little endlets peeking out on the right side.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A running start on Cobblestones

Much to my surprise, my husband recently hinted that he would like a new sweater. It was only a surprise because he has a lot of sweaters, including several well-worn ones that I made for him in my previous incarnation as a knitter too many decades ago to count. Most of them are "bought" sweaters, though, and he is beginning to appreciate the difference between handmade and commercial knitwear. Oddly enough, the fall issue of Interweave Knits had a beautiful men's sweater and I had turned down the page "just in case." It is the Cobblestone Pullover by Jared Flood (a.k.a. Brooklyn Tweed). Not only is it a gorgeous sweater, but it is done in the round with no seams. And Webs had a closeout on Queensland Aran Tweed in a scrumptious brown that reminds me of chocolate tossed with flecks of chopped pecans and almonds.

This sweater had to wait a few days after the yarn arrived because my Denise needles were occupied by the Cablewise Cashmere sweater from Knitter's Stash. Unfortunately, this sweater does NOT have a seamless construction, so it may be a while before it gets pieced together. The only thing that may encourage me to do the dreaded seaming is that the yarn is a soft and luscious 50/50 cashmere-merino blend, and I am anxious to wear it.

The one drawback to seamless sweaters is that they become a bit cumbersome to carry around. I was afraid the Cobblestone sweater-in-progress wouldn't fit in my pocketbook for the trek into New York yesterday to see The Marriage of Figaro at the Metropolitan Opera with Bryn Terfel. (It was fabulous, in case you're interested.) An hour on the train each way plus intermission time provided a good opportunity for knitting, but even my quite commodious pocketbook has its limits. So a day or two earlier I started another sweater, Oblique from this month's Knitty. This seemed like a good choice, because I have taken a brief respite from lace knitting, and this cardigan is constructed from several lace patterns, though it is done in worsted-weight yarn. I had bought some EllaRae Classic Wool from Webs (who can resist a sale???) when I ordered the yarn for R's Cobblestone, and it was the perfect gauge for this sweater.

And then I remembered... Lace, even in a heavy gauge, is too hard (at least for me) to knit in public, certainly on a moving train. So the Cobblestone gained a few more inches after all – and it did manage to squish into my Save Your Back bag after all.