every time i complete a new sweater, the last finishing task i take care of is to give it a nice bath. for the natural, undyed yarns that i love, this means a good long soak in hot soapy water—sometimes twice!—to bring back the fiber’s natural shine and springiness, dampened by spinning oil and handling. i like to wash my larger items—sweaters, blankets, large shawls, etc—in our washer’s hand wash cycle. it does a lovely job; light on the fabric yet rinsing and spinning well, so my garments are easy to reshape and dry quickly. usually when i have a new sweater ready to wash, i run around the house, pulling out several more to wash along with it and make a full load (my drying area is large enough to lay out seven or eight sweaters).
and what i’ve noticed these last couple of years is that, while i fully recognize that a good wool sweater does not need to be laundered after just a few wearings, some sweaters end up on the drying field often. because i wear them more than a little—i wear them a lot. in fact, i’m not ashamed to say there are a few that i wear several time per week and a couple that i would wear every day if i could get away with it (if i worked in a locked attic, for instance—which possibly i should). david and cardigan are fortunately quite blind to what i’m wearing so some weeks, i actually do get away with a lot, clothes-wise.
this small group of go-to garments are more than just clothing—they are friends! i don’t open my sweater drawers and ask, “what goes with the jeans/sweatpants/loungewear i’ve got on?”—i ask, “what do i feel like today; which of you will make me feel strong/comfy/happy?”. and then i choose the one i need. some of them never leave the top of the drawer.
in fact, i’ve got a list going of frequently worn sweaters that i need to knit again, if only to have a backup when i’ve worn the first too many times lately or if it’s in the wash.
my dock and cabin sweater is a good example—it’s been off the needles for about eighteen months, i’ve worn it endlessly, washed it half a dozen times at least, and and it looks as beautiful as the day i finished it. knit in good, soft, tweedy yarn (stone soup fingering, pumice), it is light but cozy, easy to wear, and incredibly durable. here’s a much nicer photo:
i want to knit another one just like it—same yarn and size, in a different shade (you know, to make it clear that i actually do change clothes once in a while).
while deep dive is a newer design that i haven’t been able to wear as long or as hard, i already know i’m going to need another. for one thing, my original sample has made its way to the shop, never to return (or at least, not for a while). it’s about to go on tour through the summer sheep and wools shows, so i likely won’t be wearing it much.
those cables will be like ribbons of glossy chocolate in this black/brown tweed. ok, so i’ve only got one sleeve done, but i’m setting my sights on finishing before we leave for maryland in two weeks.
and then there is my argyll pullover, sister to the subterraneans cardigan that appeared in the fall 2017 issue of interweave knits (click here to view/purchase pattern in the interweave store), knit in stone soup fingering yarn (granite shade).
due to space restraints, they didn’t publish the pullover version along with the cardigan, but those of us who have knit it (me, barb, and cherie) consider it our current favorite. we’ve knit it in a variety of yarns and we have plans for more.
the pullover sample—which i wear very often—is knit in cozy, better breakfast fingering yarn (muesli shade); it’s the absolute perfect pullover to toss on for everyday wear. The fit is loose and casual enough to look great with sweats and jeans, but the fabric texture lends it a tailored, more formal appearance when paired with skirts and trousers.
i have three skeins of stone soup fingering yarn in slate lined up for another one of these, but would also love one knit in ghillie sock yarn. barb and i agree—when you hit on a perfect sweater, you should make at least three!
she laughs at me and my list though, because current design projects are always nudging things around. but i manage ok and i think that, by the time this design is available for general release, i can get at least one more knit, fresh for fall wearing.
ivar, short or long is another indispensable favorite (i’m wearing it now!), once again knit in stone soup fingering yarn (shown above in the slate shade, tunic length). i love this longer version to wear with soft knit pants or when it’s extra chilly around the house. this cardigan is five years old now and has nary a pill on it. as much wear as it’s seen, the elbows are not thinning nor has it lost its shape. SSF—as we lovingly call it—is truly a yarn for living in. light and breathable, yet warming; it’s wonderful stuff. and its natural shades blend with everything.
i’ve always wanted to knit another one of these for myself but then i remembered—i do have a second—this hip length ivar sample knit in better breakfast fingering (mocha shade) by my friend cherie. it’s a shop sample, but it reminds me that i like the shorter version as much as the longer one and that i don’t have a pullover, so maybe i need one of those in this length. this is down on the list a little further because i keep thinking i might just steal the store sample for myself.
but before i can spend any considerable time on any of the above, i really must complete my sea fret cardigan prototype (pullover pattern is through tech editing and almost ready for proofreading and test knitting, yay!).
i started the first sleeve last wednesday and got the cuff completed before knit night began, which left me free to coast along in stockinette stitch while chatting with friends.
based on the response as i passed my swatches around the office and the knitting group crowd, i went with our 2-ply cooper sport, which is spun from 100 percent springy, lustrous coopworth lambswool, produced by carol wagner on her wisconsin farm.
i’m excited to be knitting a garment with this yarn—i’ve knit a number of accessories with it, but never a sweater. and the sea fret cardigan is a great project for it; my aim is a light, summery wool cardigan that will transition from spring (if it ever gets here) to summer and then from summer through the fall.
but hey—it’s still snowing here (as i write this), so if i’m quick, there will be plenty of opportunity to wear it right away. by friday i was on to sleeve number 2, which i made short work of in the few hours i had to knit over the weekend. in this case, the sleeves are knit first and end at the underarm to be picked up later and worked into the yoke.
yesterday, with my chapter deadline met and delivered, i was getting ready to go for a long walk, but cardigan was feeling lazy and decided she wanted to knit all afternoon instead, so that’s what we did. seriously—when i asked her if she wanted to go for our usual outing, she just looked at me, then at the sofa and hopped up. who could argue with that?
i plugged in my earpiece and called katharine to chat while i knitted and the dog snoozed. by the time we needed to leave for our tuesday night movie date, i was through the hem and had two pattern repeats completed. it goes SO quickly with this stitch pattern to work along with an interesting, single breed yarn.
where a springy merino yarn, with its tight, frizzy crimp, will do well on the needle size stated in the pattern, i found that i need to go down a needle size in the coopworth yarn. it’s crimp is much rounder and the fiber stiffer, so its spring manifests itself by opening the stitches up wider (think big, adult jumping jacks, compared to little kid ones). to get the same gauge and a fabric that felt equally dense, the smaller needles worked better. that’s why we do gauge swatches, right?
well, i’ve set out a pretty busy personal knitting schedule here; do you think i can do it? i’d love to have the sea fret AND the deep dive done before maryland—that’s two weeks away. and one of them is just a lone sleeve at the moment, so i force some mad knitting over the next little while. if i do manage it, maybe i can treat myself by casting on an argyll pullover as a travel project . . .
i think i’ll go knit now and watch the snow fly.