Monday, 21 May 2012

Summer Wools

Normally by this time of year I would have set aside knitting wool completely. I love knitting with (and wearing) summery fibres - in particular linen, hemp and silk. Not cotton though; I find cotton bulky and very poor at holding its shape.

But this spring has been so cold and miserable, I haven't been able to stop knitting wool. Instead I'm trying to transition into Summer slowly, by knitting summer-weight garments in wool blends.

The indispensable summer cardi
The most urgent project is a cardigan to replace an old favourite that finally fell apart last summer. I picked up the original cardigan at a Jigsaw sale several years ago. It was a silk/cashmere mix in a lovely taupe colour (I love Jigsaw's colours, less so their prices), and it went with absolutely everything in my summer wardrobe.

Walnuss @ankestrick
After much browsing on Ravelry I decided the Walnuss cardigan pattern would be a good match. It is a mostly basic button-up cardigan with just a little bit of gathering on the shoulders, sleeves and sides to keep it interesting.

Then on to finding the right yarn in just the right shade of taupe. I would have loved a cashmere/silk blend, but I knew it would be hard enough to find the right colour in wool, let alone in a luxury blend.

You can't trust internet images to tell you the true colour of a yarn - especially not a taupe - so I knew I would have to find something in the real world. I was hopeful that I would be able to get something in Helsinki, but everything I looked at was either the wrong weight, the wrong shade, or the wrong price (even I have to draw the line at Italian cashmere).

Luckily I had the answer already sitting at home, in my shade cards from Holst Garn. If you really like a particular kind of wool, and don't live near a well-stocked yarn shop, shade cards are invaluable. I have cards for both the supersoft wool (in 96 colours!) and the Samarkand wool/silk blend. After swatching with both types of yarn held double, I decided I preferred the drape and sheen of the wool/silk. Although Samarkand only comes in 20 colours, one of them, walnut, was a perfectly acceptable taupe shade.

The cardigan is knit from the top down, with a saddle-shoulder construction. I found the pattern a little confusing at first - all the sizes are laid out next to each other in columns, and there is a lot of 'at the same time' going on. But I figured it out with a bit of help from fellow ravelers, and I'm really pleased with the way it is knitting up. I passed the sleeve divide this weekend, and it's been smooth, fast sailing since then. I need to finish this soon so I can start wearing it with summer frocks... if summer ever arrives this year.

Caeles © Jane Heller
Next in my queue is Caeles, a sleeveless top with shaped collar and cap sleeves from Twist Collective spring/summer 2012 collection. I really like Twist Collective patterns because they are always so well written. Caeles is knit in an Aran weight yarn, so I should be able to finish it quickly.

For this top I bought K'acha, a wool/alpaca/silk blend from Mirasol, on sale at my local yarn shop. It's a hot fuschia, to go with a Kashmiri embroidered jacket I bought on a whim, forgetting that I had absolutely nothing in my wardrobe to wear with it. Well, now I will. It might seem silly to knit a sleeveless top in wool, but I think this style top, worn under a suit jacket, will transition well into fall and winter.

My camera didn't want to photograph the colour right -
I wonder if it was trying to tell me something...

And finally, in case it never properly warms up, I bought some green Rowan Felted Tweed DK, a merino/alpaca/rayon blend, to knit another cardigan. Several years ago I knit the XO Raglan Cardigan from Vogue Knitting winter 2009/10, in a particularly insipid soya/cotton blend. Love the pattern, HATE the yarn. I'd like to redo it in wool, but I'm also tempted by Vodka Lemonade from Baby Cocktails.

#24 XO Raglan Cardigan by TanisKnits & Vodka Lemonade ©Caro Sheridan

These two cardigans are quite similar, with a boxy shape, 3/4 length raglan sleeves, collar, and a bit of design interest at the bottom (the XO raglan cardigan has adorable tiny pockets, Vodka Lemonade has a lace detail which is replicated at the centre back). Vodka Lemonade doesn't have buttons, but I could easily add them. I'm having a really hard time deciding - which one do you think I should knit?