Star-Crossed Sweater

I seem to always have a lot of knitting projects on the go, and last winter I figured out part of the reason why that is: I tend to take on big projects. They’re either really detailed or take miles of yarn, or both, which means they take a long time to knit. In March, I decided that I needed a little break from those epic knits and planned for some instant gratification.

Of course, it didn’t quite work out that way.

This sweater is from a book called Colourscape Folk – that’s a Ravelry link – which features a Rowan yarn called Colourscape Chunky. It’s a single-ply yarn, spun in the UK, with self-striping colourways designed by Kaffe Fassett. The yarn is currently discontinued. I’ve used this book and yarn before: here’s a long vest in shades of pink that I made for myself (it’s not so hot a pink as the flash makes it look), and here’s a vest I made for Mr. Math, also from this book and in this yarn. Both of those projects were quick knits and came out well.

When this yarn was discontinued by Rowan, a very similar yarn appeared in the inventory of another British company Texere, called Olympia Chunky. British knitters on Ravelry who had fingered both yarns suggested that Olympia Chunky might really be Colourscape Chunky with new ball bands. I had knit Mr. Math’s vest from Colourscape Chunky and had stashed more for him for another cardigan, but the colourways I wanted for myself were gone. I bought Olympia Chunky for the pink vest and couldn’t tell the difference between the two yarns. I also bought Olympia Chunky for the project I’m talking about today.

Here it is:

Jess by Sarah Hatton in Texere Olympia "Zeus" knit by Deborah Cooke

The cardigan pattern is called Jess, and it’s from that same Rowan book. I’ve even knitted it in the same colourway as shown in the book. While I’m quite happy with the finished vest, it was a nightmare to knit and far from the instant gratification I’d expected. This batch of yarn was filled with knots. The problem with a knot in a self-striping yarn is that the two ends knotted together invariably don’t match. In order to match the colour gradation, you have to sift through the other skeins, trying to find the match, then break and join the yarn there. You can see how this ends up being an inefficient use of yarn. While Colourscape Chunky did run thicker and thinner (as do many single ply yarns) this batch varied more wildly. Some stretches were less than half the thickness the yarn was supposed to be, and those stretches went on for a long time. The parts knit in that thinner yarn actually looked lacy. I knew the yarn would full some in washing, but not that much, so I had to break out those parts and seek matches, etc. etc. In the end, I used parts of 6 skeins for a cardigan that required less than 4, and ended up with mounds of bits.

I had some issues with the fit through the shoulders, too, both in terms of the sleeve cap being too short to fit well into the armhole and the armhole being too shallow for me. I think I knit the sweater from the armholes up at least three times. The interesting thing is that it feels huge, even though it has finished out to the correct size (and the correct size for me.) I think that’s because those wide garter stitch bands at the front are designed to overlap, but since the front of the cardigan hangs open, they seem to be extra width. The collar is larger and lower than I’d expected, but it’s staying the way it is now.

Of course, I finished this winter cardi just as summer is beginning! I think I’ll stick with my epic projects for a while.

One thought on “Star-Crossed Sweater

  1. Oh gosh that sounds like an absolute nightmare!! It does look lovely though. Yep I think I’ll just stick to my scarf knitting, surely I can’t get into any trouble there!! I hope to be finished soon, then I have to work out how to put tassels on the ends….


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