Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Washing yarn

Back when I was in High School I knit an Aran type sweater that I had seen in one of my magazines. I'm going to go out on a limb and say it was in Elle, since that was one of the magazines that I read with some regularity. I had just finished a project, a sweater for my dad, that had cabling and I was hooked on the process. When I saw this sweater I thought I could figure out the design and make it for myself. I bought a nice creamy cotton yarn, charted the design and proceeded to make a sweater that would fit 2 of me. I hadn't figured out the whole gauge thing, plus it was cotton so that just magnified the whole stretched out of control situation. It was the mid 80's so big sweaters were not that out of place, but still.

I wore this sweater for a few years until I finally unraveled the whole thing to use the yarn for something else. It has been sitting in balls ever since (my 20 year high school reunion was last summer). Last night I finally wound the balls into skeins and washed them. Once they are dry I will wind them into cakes and the plan is to knit the Dickinson Pullover from the Fall 07 Interweave Knits magazine.

It actually reminds me a lot of the original sweater I initially attempted so I feel confident that I would have enough yarn. However I am nervous that because I am using cotton I will have a sack hanging off me, again, even if I knit the sweater the proper size. It's a conundrum.

In other news I also skeined the fingering weight wool that I purchased at the Shepherd's Harvest Festival back in May in preparation for dyeing it a lovely Bright Scarlet. G2 and I dyed a test skein last night with an acid dye from Dharma Trading Co and it turned out absolutely beautiful! It was so nice that now I'm wondering if I should dye the cotton a different color with their Procion dyes, I'm thinking the Red Wine would totally set off the cabling. Pretty!

I'm also wondering if the cotton is simply the wrong material for this project. I wish I was on Ravelry already and then I could do a search for patterns that other people have knit with cotton. If I knit it on the snug side I'm thinking it will be OK, but I'm unsure.

I do need to make a decision soon so I can order one or both dyes. I'm so excited about dyeing my own yarn. I haven't done that for a while.


Teej said...

Having knit sweaters in cotton for Jack (who is sensitive to even alpaca and itches terribly in wool), I will warn you that a cabled cotton sweater will be *very* heavy compared to the same sweater in wool. I *knew* this in theory, but didn't really get it until I actually made a cotton sweater. I believe cables use more yarn than plain stockinette, so I'd expect a cabled cotton sweater to be even worse.

And because of the weight of the yarn, the sweater will definitely stretch out as you wear it. It might start out fine in the morning, only to end up falling off your shoulders and hanging to your knees by the end of the day. I have a Brioche Bodice done in a cotton blend yarn that stretches like this and it is something I don't tend to wear because of it. I'd hate to see a similar fate for a sweater that will undoubtedly take a bit of time to complete!

Liz said...

That was deffinately the problem with the cabled sweater that the yarn formerly was, hense my worries. This is why I was thinking of making it on the snug side, building into the sweater the fact that it will ease during the wearing.

I was also thinking about knitting a sleeve first and see how the yarn behaves. I wouldn't have a problem unraveling a sleeve if the pattern didn't work with the yarn.