Wednesday, April 30, 2008


I'm itching to start something new. Alas - I cannot. You see, my WIPs are at just at a level where I can continue to make progress on all of them a bit each week. It's a delicate balance and if I add another to the queue, the house of cards comes tumbling down. To soothe my craving, I resort to swatching. Swatching allows me the thrill of casting on and of proving that I can master the pattern stitch without committing to a full project. The added bonus is it helps inform my knitting should I eventually get around to making the garment.

I've been jonesing to make the Printed Silk Cardigan from Interweave Knits by Connie Chang Chinchio . The prescribed yarn is La Luz which is pretty spendy. The ravelers who've made this design have used everything from RYC Cashsoft DK to Rowan Calmer. I love the idea of silk and wondered what sport weight yarn could deliver the drape with a wee bit of memory and some sheen. Oh yeah, and a great colour at a reasonable price.

At the Knitter's Frolic last Saturday (where I got to meet up with great knitters like Steph and Laura), I found a sport weight yarn at the Black Lamb booth. It was 50% superwash merino and 50% silk. At 347m per 100g and $15 per 100g skein, it seemed perfect. I also had some seawool also purchased from the Black Lamb last year in a nice olive green marinating in my stash. Curious to see how they both worked out - I swatched.

The merino/silk yarn was lovely. It worked up to a 24 x 36 gauge for 4 inches which is just a tad off the gauge suggested of 25 x 34. I was please with how nicely the twisted stitch diamond pattern popped (more on that in a moment) and after a bath the gauge stayed put. The colour shifts of the hand dye duplicated the original somewhat which is part of the charm of the design for me. My only hesitation here is that the swatch lacked the "heft" that I think helps it drape. It's pretty light and floaty.

The Olive coloured Sea Silk (seacell and merino blend - same base as HandMaiden) surprised me a bit. I expected to like this better and while I liked the drape a wee bit more, I felt the crispness of the blue swatch was lacking in this one (Geeze - I sound like the Simon Cowell of knitting). You can see that the diamond pattern is harder to discern and even the ribbing was a bit sloppier. The gauge was spot on the same as the blue swatch and it weighed 6g versus 5g for the blue one. This yarn clocks in at 303m (or thereabouts) per 100g.

Now you can also see that the left twisting stitches on both don't pop quite as much as the right one. After reading Lolly's blog and drooling over the cardigan she made her sister, I discovered that the designer had suggested knitting through the back loop of the second stitch then through the back loop of both stitches to remedy this. I tried it on the green swatch and it does work better.

Honestly, I'm partial to the blue yarn but I still don't think I've found the perfect fit. Maybe Lisa Souza glacier? Or, if there's another sport weight silk/cotton or silk/wool blend that's tone on tone variegated - drop me a line.


Lolly said...

I am excited to hear that you are thinking about the Printed Silk cardigan - it is such an enjoyable knit with beautiful results! The blue yarn you swatched (wow, you are so good!) is really beautiful. From the photos, it seems to be about the same consistency of the yarn that I used (Frog Tree Pima Silk). Good luck finding that match! Best wishes, and thanks for commenting on my version of Connie's lovely design! :)

Connie said...

It's fun to read your process of swatching and choosing yarn. To make the ribbing more defined, you might want to try knitting through the back loop on the right side. So the ribbing would look like:
Row 1: *k1tbl, p1; rep from * to end.
Row 2: *k1, p1; rep from * to end.

Good luck with the project :) And yes, Lolly's version is beautiful. It made me go out immediately and buy some Pima Silk for myself (for another project). She's such a talented knitter and photographer.