‘Tis a gift to be free

On Saturday night, with my nose in a book, I cast off the collar of my Featherweight Cardigan. (I had to put down the book to cast in the ends.) I waited until the morning to block it, as our linoleum floors mean that pretty much my only blocking surface is our bed.

Magically, when thoroughly soaked, the fabric was perfectly malleable. I just laid it out how I wanted it to be, and it stayed. It didn’t need pins at all. This is very fortunate, because I did not realize until after the sweater was soaked that I have completely lost my straight pins. It took a few days to dry, as it’s been rather cold and I didn’t think to point a fan at it, so I had to keep moving it back and forth between the bed and the dining room table, but it is done, and I love it with ten loves.

(My parents sent me to modeling school when I was 6. Looking at these pictures, I don’t think any of it stuck. I do still sorta remember the foot positions, though.)

Yarn Review: “Provence” is a very unusual yarn that you might have trouble finding. I picked it up on the sale table of School Products, which is the oldest yarn shop in New York City and which is owned by Karabella. I bought it because, in addition to being beautiful, it was cheap – I got 1 lb on a cone for like 20$, which if you’ve been in this for a while you know is quite affordable for a whole sweater’s worth of good yarn. It was labeled 100% merino lace. I believe the merino part (it’s so very soft), but I could tell just from looking at it that it was close enough to fingering weight to be perfect for this sweater.

The interesting thing about this yarn is that it is “marled,” or in other words, it looks like a barber pole. As I’ve mentioned before, most yarns are not just a single strand, but made of multiple strands (or “plies” singular “ply”) that are twisted (or “plied”) together. When those strands are different colors, it makes that barber-pole effect. And because every single stitch has every ply showing in some way, it creates this interesting mottled or “marled” fabric. This yarn had three plies, one white, one dark purple, and one lavender. I love the finished effect.

Pattern Review: “Featherweight Cardigan” by Hannah Feddig is an amazingly simple pattern – brilliant, really, in its simplicity. She says she invented it for use with Malabrigo Lace, which you could definitely use. Malabrigo Lace is rather unusual it is made of just one strand (this type of yarn is called “single ply”) that is very fluffy, so that it fills in the spaces around it and can make a solid fabric even on US5 or 6 needles. I think that might be a little too light for me, and I loved the sample my Cloverhill coworker Libby made with a fingering weight, so I always imagined doing that.

It is true enough to bear repeating: this pattern is sim.ple. For many of you, this will decode as bo.ring. If you like to have action in your work, if you like to throw in a cable here or there just to keep the love alive, knitting this sweater as written with no variation will make you catatonic. But this was exactly what I needed: something utterly undemanding to keep my hands busy while I was reading. That said, you could add a good bit of variety to this – a little lace or cabling just about anywhere, and as the designer suggests, you could do just about any kind of edging you want. (Check out the projects on ravelry for inspiration.)

The simplicity of the pattern means that hypothetically, this would make a GREAT first sweater, certainly a first top-down sweater. However, because the gauge is so small, many have found it frustratingly slow to get through. But if just the thought of knitting a sweater out of fingering yarn makes you scream, never fear: Knitting Pure and Simple has a nearly identical pattern here (second row down on the right, #294) at a way looser gauge. (I haven’t knit that particular pattern, but KP&S is very reliable from what I hear.)

I am in love with the corners on this thing. While I was knitting the collar, I just kept stopping and looking at it and being charmed by the ribbing popping out at right angles to the other ribbing. It tickled me so pink that I started thinking about doing this. But I don’t know if I have that much garter stitch in my soul right now. That might make even me catatonic.

4 thoughts on “‘Tis a gift to be free

  1. The log cabin blanket would induce stabbing myself with knitting needles! I would really not even attempt it. Looks nice but no. Great work on the cardi!


  2. Thanks Angelica 🙂 yeah jonica i think i would do it if it was the middle of the winter and i was really cold and i had lots of reading to do just sitting on the couch. but i don’t know… there’s not even a purl in the whole thing!


  3. This is really pretty on you. Well done! I like the wool and I like the pattern very much. My scarf is nearly done, and I’d like to start a simple sweater like that to take with me everywhere.


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