Saturday, August 27, 2011

Baroque Poet’s Cardigan

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Are you a middle-aged librarian with a wardrobe full of age-inappropriate dresses from Forever 21 and super-long arms?  Or maybe you’re looking for just the layering piece to go with your high-necked Oscar Wilde ruffle blouse and colonial jodhpurs?  Either way, this is the sweater for you! 

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I have long harbored the dream of doing a sweater from the sheep on down, and short of raising a sheep myself and learning to shear him (my friend Debbie did all that dirty work for me, and gave me this beautiful fleece) I have done it.  I made this sweater myself, in every way possible.

There was a lot of spinning;  the fleece never seemed to get any smaller, but I was getting a lot of yarn out of it.  Looking at the not-diminishing pile of fleece, Dean said, “Why does the world even need more than just the one sheep?”  Eventually, I started knitting--without knowing where I was really headed—a pattern I made up as I went, beginning with measuring myself and working a top-down cardigan with no front increases.  I originally knit the sleeves with a ruffled cuff and right away knew that was wrong, so I unraveled that and then finished the body of the sweater with no clear idea in mind about the edging.  But it had to be something good, something more than just ribbing or seed stitch.  It had to be something befitting all the hours Cody, Debbie, and I had put into the project.  Oh yeah, I love crochet!  That’s it!

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I settled on an edging from this book, and crocheted it in rounds all the way around the sweater body, centering one of the points at the back neck and figuring out the front corners on the fly.   Then I did the cuffs too, knowing it would make them ridiculously long and not being one bit sorry.   I love love LOVE how it turned out!  This sweater is dressy and romantic.  It is more than just a cardigan. 

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After it was all done and the ends were sewn in, I knew it needed blocking, and I was scared to death to put it in the water—Cody’s Lambswool wants to stick to itself so bad—but it survived a quick dunk in room temp water before laying flat to dry.  Blocking is key, people, don’t skimp on the blocking.  It’s the difference between handmade and homemade.  

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Makes me want to go off and write a bunch of poetry or something. 

10 comments:

  1. What a great sweater! You nailed it with the crochet edging.

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  2. So very beautiful! It suits you very well too as does the very lovely dress you are wearing it with - pretty colours. (I would love to have them both in my wardrobe) The crochet edging is fantastic and I like the idea of using them together to get just the right effect.

    The yarn looks soft and cosy and kind of pliant. Am wondering about something though, and wool scares me because of this; if it doesn't like just a damping for blocking how will it take to being washed? There are so many horror stories about knitting being ruined that I am just put off from making a garment for myself. I mean how do you dry something flat and 'shape while wet' I don't have anywhere to put something so big and heavy! Can wool be spun dry to get rid of excess moisture, and if not how to you get rid off all the water after it has been washed? (Wringing something breaks the fibres). I don't use wool for blankets either because the after care is just mind boggling! Anyway some thoughts on why wool, while being a thing of greatness still alarms me as I am clueless on how to care for it; despite trying to find out I have no satisfactory answers so I remain scared of wool.

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  3. Oh, very, very bohemian and gorgeous.
    Perfect for autumnal evenings and cool days.
    I love a long sleeve- nice to cosy into.
    Xx

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  4. Thank you all so much! This sweater turned out better than I hoped it would. Yay me!

    My dear Anonymous, you leave such lovely comments, but I don't know how to answer you, 'cos you are a "no-reply" blogger--I can't even visit your blog to tell you hey since you're all incognito. (Hey, you're not my mom, are you? I'm kidding, I can totally tell when my mom comments anonymously...)

    So, the short answer is that, apart from a super-gentle hand wash--I mean literally a long soak in tepid water with no agitation whatsoever and then the kindest of gentle baby's bath rinses, I will probably not be able to wash this sweater. So I guess I'll just be careful not to slop on it or sweat in it, and I'll give it a once-yearly careful do.

    In general, wool doesn't mind a little abuse--this particular fiber is just very ready to felt. Honestly, what I usually do with a wool garment is to zip it into a pillowcase and wash it gently in the machine in cold water (yes, this has occasionally resulted in disaster, but it's usually okay) and then let it spin and hang to dry over the shower curtain bar in the bathroom. If it's a new garment I just made and I'm still feeling all precious about it, I hand wash it in the sink, swishing it around in the sink, then rinse and roll it up in a towel to wring out most of the water. Then I just lay it out on the floor, arranging it so it's the right shape and size, and then tell the animals to stay away from it.

    If all that fails, there's always "superwash" yarn, which you can, you know, wash. In the machine. Don't give up on wool!

    Thanks for your question--I hope this helps. :)

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  5. Absolutely amazing and beautiful! Pure poetry!
    x

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  6. Absolutely gorgeous! And how wonderful that every time you wear this it will be knowing all the work and effort that has gone into it - it just makes it even more beautiful!

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