Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Handspun Yoke Cardigan

I have practically finished my handspun yoke cardigan, after much spinning, knitting, tinkering with the pattern, and more knitting. I still have to weave in ends and find buttons, but it's the weather is too warm for such a cosy cardigan right now - that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.
I made several modifications to the pattern; to suit my tastes & chosen yarns;

Sleeves; the sleeves in the pattern are straight. This would mean that the sleeve would be very loose around the wrist, which I like the look of, but find impratical. The pattern called for 54 stitches to be cast-on; I cast on 46 stitches, then knit for 2 1/2 inches and increased by 2 stitches x 4 times. This meant that I increased to the recommended 54 stitches when the sleeve was 10 inches long. I then continued to knit straight, as recommended, and added an extra half inch length.

The pattern suggests knitting the main, commercial yarn at a slightly loose tension, and knitting very slightly thicker handspun yarn, in 3 contrast colours to the same tension. The commerical yarn I choose - Drops Nepal - was slightly thicker than the recommended yarn, and makes a nice full fabric at the pattern's recommended tension.
My handspun yarns were very obviously variegated, and a little too bright together. I decided to leave out the textured yoke section in favour of stocking and garter stitch rows, and to use just 2 contrasting colours in handspun yarn.

The handspun yarn also proved to be a little too bulky knit on the same needles as the commercial yarn; my first attempt at the yoke looked puckering, lumpy and uneven, especially along decrease rows. I ripped out the first yoke attempt (and was amused by the other half's horrified reaction) and got out the graph paper & colouring pencils for better planning.

For a better fit I started knitting with the contrast colour about an inch higher than directed in the pattern and I decreased over 6 rows instead of 3.
I knit the handspun yarn using smaller needles, giving a stiffer, less lumpy fabric.
I am happy with the results. It's a thick, cosy cardigan that will be loved when the weather next turns cold (which could be the entire summer season here in Ireland).

Pattern; King of Confidence, by Weaverknits
Yarn; Drops Nepal in charcoal grey, from the Constant Knitter
Fibre; Mixed batts from Laura Hogan, bluefaced leicester from Craftspun, Humbug Jacob from the World of Wool, Merino roving from The Yarn Room, Ashford wool Dyes from The Yarn Room
Needles; 4.5 mm for commercial yarn, 3.5 mm for handspun.