Project; Snowcap Cable Cardigan - the handspun version!
I decided to write a blog about this project because people often ask me 'what do you do with handspun artyarn', and 'do you have a pattern I can use it in?' In this project I have used a more smooth spun handspun for the main, and have added in stripes of my textured artyarns for interest. This is a great way of using up small amounts of different coloured yarns whether they are artyarns or lockspun yarns. Most of us hand-spinners have large stashes of different yarn left overs, so here's the way to use them up! In fact, I could have used an awful lot more of my left overs in this project because the more yarns and colours, the more interest. I'm already planning take-2 on this pattern!!
The pattern itself calls for 5 skeins of 'Spun Cloud' by Knit Collage, which is 100yards per 200gram skein. Its a thick-thin soft yarn and has a lot of loft by the look of it. That makes sense, because this is a very large cardigan, and it weighs in quite heavy when finished.
My version shown here, was knitted from a 2 ply super chunky handspun yarn spun on my Kromski Symphony wheel, at the lowest bobbin ratio using the jumbo flyer set up.
It is over all a stocking stitch jumper with every forth row purl, to make the ridge. Very easy for beginners. Raglan sleeves, and the cable pattern on the back and sleeves is also very easy to do, even for a beginner. Because of the size of the needles, I used a double pointed 10mm sock needle as my 'cable needle'.
Spinning the yarn
I spun this Shetland blend up in a very uneven rustic way, so it definitely looks handspun with plenty of thick-thin spinning. Over all its around 100 yards per 200 grams, and approx gauge on 10mm needles was 8 stitches per 4" on stocking stitch. Its a really spongy yarn!
I first carded some very soft raw washed lamb Shetland fleece, and blended it on my electric
Brother drum carder (check out my youtube video for more on the carder) with some super soft suri alpaca. This became the main light grey yarn. I then took half of it and dyed with logwood (natural plant dye) to create the purple yarn you see in the picture. I created the collar and front bands from a handspun yarn that I created specially for this bit of knitting. It had more merino in it because it was going next to the neck and I blended in other colours of natural dyed and acid dyed merino and suri alpaca, so a very multi-coloured yarn.
Other yarns were handspun Romney lamb blended with multi-coloured sari-silk waste and white suri alpaca, and some of my handspun 'Aqua art yarn' and some blue artyarn left over from another project.
Some of my adaptations to this pattern
I added buttons to the front band! This was a complete after-thought because the sweater was for my daughter and she decided on buttons after trying it on. It works well without buttons too, but she likes to keep warm walking to work. I had added the Aqua artyarn stripes whilst knitting, and happened to have these 2 gorgeous hand made buttons by greenbirdboutique in my stash. Jess is the creator, and she makes fantastic sea-glass jewelry and hand made ceramic beads and buttons, so I was thrilled that these just worked so well with this project. They are glazed in greeny-turquoise crackle glaze.
My other alteration to the pattern was the length. I decided to make this into more of a coat, and I added an extra 4" to the over all length.
Notes about the pattern
I found the pattern instructions for the back quite confusing at first. But actually if you just start knitting, it makes sense. Try photocopying this pattern so you can write on it, and tick off the rows as you go.
Don't skimp on the neck band. It needs the full amount of rows that the pattern specifies in order for the collar to turn over properly. There's a lot of weight in this cardigan and if the band isn't large enough, the cardigan will slip down off your shoulders, but making a good band round the neck prevents this.
The band is knitted on double pointed circular needles, and they go up a size to 12mm for it. I thought that strange because usually we use a smaller needle than the body is knitted in, for the ribbing. But in this case it makes a looser band which is brilliant because it flows and sits better around the neck because the stitches are looser. So don't try to alter that part of the pattern and knit on smaller needles. The pattern calls for 40 inch circular needle. Mine wasn't that long, at around 30". It was ok, but if you are going out to buy circular needles to knit this cardigan, I recommend you get the 40", especially if you are making a longer version of the cardigan. I used Knitpro Zing needles, because I think they are well made and I just like them.
And my final word on this is, it doesn't fit in your average project bag! In fact, I had to import a laundry basket into my lounge to contain this cardigan whilst it was being made. The up-side is, it really does knit up quick!