Saturday, September 12, 2009

Ful semyly hir wympul pynched was

Whoa. The first few days of the school year hit me like a steamroller this year! Between not being prepared either for the classes I was teaching or for my own reading, dealing with multiple technological issues in the office, assisting with a big medieval conference (at which I discovered that one of my personal medievalist heroes is also a knitter on Ravelry!), putting together loan documentation and board package materials for an apartment I'm buying, and triangulating multiple times a day between the lawyer and the broker, not to mention dealing with a mouse infestation in my current apartment, I am exhausted! And that's after only a two-day week of school!

It's a good thing that this also arrived this week: lovely, unbelievably soft cashmere yarn from Colourmart.

Now I know what everyone's gushing about! This yarn arrived quite quickly considering that it was sent from England. It came on a cone, oiled for spinning, and I skeined it and gave it a hot bath with dish detergent (twice with the detergent, followed each time by about five rinses). It still hasn't bloomed as much as it could, and it also smells really strongly now of Mrs. Meyers' Lemon Verbena dish soap. Even so it is heavenly to knit with -- sooooo soooooft, with a gorgeous fluffiness that is also somehow satiny, just like the most luxurious cashmere sweater you could imagine.

I'm using it to knit a spiral cowl. I am not usually a cowl kind of girl, preferring not even hand-knit scarves but big thin pashmina-type wraps, but when I saw all the cute pictures on Ravelry of this, I was convinced to try it. I certainly now appreciate the pleasures of knitting a cowl -- just round and round and round, no shaping, a nice size for subway lap knitting. I tried out a prototype with some leftover Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, and I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly it knit up. It's been a while since I knit anything in a gauge larger than 7 stitches per inch, I guess. Off the neck, it's pretty, but rather unimpressive:

But on and buttoned, I think it's really quite nice, sort of floppily structural. Pardon both the double chin and the visible bra straps:

There are many nice things about this pattern. The picot hems give it a polished, feminine look and maximum stretchiness; the eyelet spiral keeps it interesting and looks much more complicated than it actually is; it uses only about 200 yards of yarn, so you can buy something luxurious; and it's a great way to showcase one awesome button. For this red one, I used a metal "pelican in her piety" button that was a present from the ex-boyfriend -- it's a long and nerdy medieval/choir inside joke.

Baby Cashmerino was not really the best yarn for this pattern, and I'd warn people against using any bouncy, multi-ply superwash yarn like it for their cowls: it's just too stretchy and heavy and floppy really to hold the great structure that makes this pattern so cool. You definitely want something luxuriously soft and with some drape, but not perhaps stretchy -- lots of these cowls on Ravelry are knit with Malabrigo merino silk dk or Manos Silk Blend, and those both seem like a perfect choice. I have high hopes for this cashmere. I've also picked out the perfect button from my collection of antique buttons -- I have so many singleton beauties I've been dying to use!

Now for a nice, slow afternoon of luxurious knitting therapy!


Jodi said...

Congrats on the new apt, and boo to the mice! I love the shape of the cowl, and thanks for the honest assessment of the DB Cashmerino for this project. I love that yarn, but it's definitely not the perfect match for every pattern.

Rachel said...

Hmmm, I might try that too, it looks beautiful on you!

keri said...

That is gorgeous! I love the yarn and colors you chose!

Thanks so much for the nice comments on the pattern - they always make my day. Take care and happy knitting!

Batty said...

I love that cowl, it's gorgeous!

It's so easy to get sucked into all the medieval stuff... I used to dream in Middle High German. They weren't very eloquent dreams, as my MHG wasn't all that great (at least not my active vocabulary), but they were weird enough to keep me entertained.

Knits For Needs said...

You just encouraged me to challenge myself to learn more and do more with knitting... LOVE that cowl!!!