What do you do when inspiration hits you at like 2am and you’re supposed to be sleeping but can’t stop thinking about knitting a sweater? You lie there, dreaming about said sweater until an acceptable hour to get up and start knitting on said sweater!
Yarn: Westcoast Colour ‘PMS’ – Polwarth, Mohair & Silk (discontinued), traditional 2-ply of varying weights (sport –> worsted)
To say that this little sweater number has been a bee in my bonnet for a while is an understatement. I have tried this sweater in other yarns and had initially cast on this exact sweater in this yarn but ripped and abandoned it. The reason was because the fabric, knit at 6.00mm/US10 needles was too loose as it knit up. The more I reflected on the fabric, the more I knew it was too loosely knit. The fear in that situation is two-fold: Snagging on something and ripping the stitches, and structural soundness. If the sweater isn’t at least somewhat structurally sound, it will bag out and lose its shape eventually. I also wasn’t sure that knitting a bunch of extra fabric would result in the length of sleeves I was hoping for (bracelet) because I was pretty sure I would run out of yarn in the body.
Knit swatch on 6.00mm/US10 needles – note the lovely progression of colour but open stitches
These cropped sweaters are great for using up smaller amounts of yarn – this only used 260 grams of fibre (!) but I also needed to lengthen the body by a couple of inches due to the length of my torso. The handspun was not super consistent – this was spun in 2017 for Spin the Bin and I wasn’t paying much attention to the quality of the spin. I just wanted to get it done. This is also why I haven’t participated in Spin the Bin since – I don’t like feeling so pressured to finish spins just to say they are ‘out of my stash’. It’s just not my creative style and doesn’t work for me.
Pattern: Felix Cardigan by Amy Christoffers
Yarn: Westcoast Colour PMS (discussed above) handspun project page here, 620 yards/260 grams | 1082 yards per pound
Needles: 5.00mm/US8 for body, 4.00mm/US6 for ribbing & buttonbands
I made some modifications, as you can already notice from the final needle size changes. Namely, I downsized the needles from 6.00mm to 5.00mm for a slightly denser but still open, drapey fabric. This was important in the end – I didn’t know it at the time – for the varying weights of yarn. Like I mentioned, this was not super consistently spun. The slightly smaller needles compensated nicely for the differing weights of yarn but highlighted the slightly thick n’ thin nature to make for a little bit of very pleasant texture. It ended up being kind of perfect!
A major modification that I made was to cast on 5 fewer stitches across the back neck. I used the stitch counts for all the other sections but subtracted those five. It really helps with the extra bulk of fabric in the back and created a slightly closer-fitting sweater. Win!
I knit the button bands as called for in the pattern – I often do sewn button bands but this time, I liked the aesthetic of the picked up stitches and I’m glad I did that. The buttons I chose from my button stash are a tad small but I didn’t have anything else and to be honest, I’m not sure I’ll ever button this sweater. If I do begin to want to, I’ll switch them out but at this time, I’ll leave them!
Another modification I made was to start the collar and knit on 4.00mm/US 6 needles prior to beginning the yoke. In the pattern the stitches for the collar are picked up and knit last, across both the sweater yoke and button bands but I was worried about yardage. I decided in the end to knit the initial inch in rib and be done with it. From there, I went straight into the short row shaping for the back neck. It worked out beautifully!
As with most handspun, there is some striping but I think in this case, it works nicely. The slight sheen of the yarn from the silk and mohair, with the slight halo, really creates a lovely yarn. One of my other most-worn handspun items is my Westcoast Colour PMS cowl that I knit from another colourway when Lynne still carried this fibre. It remains one of my favourite items to wear in the winter.
The darker blue that runs across the back of the cardigan was a bit disappointing at first but when I’m actually wearing the cardigan, it’s not as noticeable. I think it’s mostly the photos to be honest! Also, I’ll be wearing a shawl with this a lot so that will distract the eye as well. I love it with the dress and plan to rotate this outfit into regular wear!
Have you knit a quick item lately that you just really wanted to knit and wasn’t going to give up until you finished? I’d love to hear about it!