A slow blue – and unsuccessful – knit

Last summer I wrote in my Fleece blogpost about dyeing some fibres to spin and knit Julia Farwell-Clay’s Tambourine cardigan. I had a productive dyeing session and ended up with a wonderful basket of blue-toned fleece just ready for spinning.blue fleece in basketOver the winter, I got spinning!Yarn, fleece and rolagsMy yarn is perhaps particularly colourful and flecked.  This is partly because I get bored with spinning just a single colour, and partly because I love the variegated hues that you find in old materials.  Look at the shifting tones in this carpet for example. carpet tonesTo achieve my flecked and variegated yarn, I spin both from rolags and teased-out fleece, thus getting both blocks of plain colour (the teased-out fleece) and blocks of blended colour.  Here, I’m preparing a rolag with white clouds to sit amongst the blue.blendingblending continuesAnd here, I’m using stronger accent colours of scarlet and purple to stand out against the blue. Some little bits of glossy alpaca amid the fleece.lots of colours on cardersThe finished rolag still shows the accent colours quite clearly.finished rolagYou will see from my finished basket of rolags that there are all sorts of different hues and colours in the rolags alone. Also in the basket is some teased out alpaca ready to be spun as a solid colour amid the blended rolags.fleece and rolagsI also add little sharply-coloured pieces of brilliant fleece (or perhaps mohair or silk) as I’m spinning to act as highlights.  If you look at this spool, you may be able to make out the three components of my spinning: softly-blended rolags, solid colour and accent colours (the little shots of vibrant green).spinning the fleeceI have large baskets of coloured fleece sitting around as I work; clouds of inspirational colour just itching to be spun.  basket of fleeceHappy cat Poe helps me with all this processing in her own inimitable way.help from the catIt is so immensely satisfying to end up with this.handspun yarnJust a wash on the line, blowing in the Northumbrian breezes, and the yarn is ready to knit.washing the hanksTime now to do some knitting and see how this yarn is going to knit up …working on the tension sampleI’m really pleased with the flecks and variation of colours, but will it work with the raised nups which are an intrinsic part of the Tambourine pattern?  Time to look at the swatch properly …Tension swatchYes, I am so pleased with the swatch – I think the nups stand out well against the variegated yarn.  Also good news, my yarn measures up to the same tension as in the pattern, so I shouldn’t need to do any adjustments with the calculations.  I decided to do some measuring against another short cardigan that fits me very well.  This is Kate Davies’ Deco – a pattern that I love, and a cardi that I wear a lot. So I’m fairly confident that if I base my measurements on this cardi, I will come up with a Tambourine cardi that will fit.Comparison with DecoAlas, that’s not the case! I get so far, and I know this cardi is too small for me.  It is meant to be a close fit, but this is a closer fit than I want. knitting progressingOh dear, time to do some unravelling, and start again. I am always impressed when I read how positively other knitters undo their work – I hate it!  I feel dispirited, and although I love the way my yarn is knitting up, I can’t understand how I’ve got my measurements so wrong.

But back I go to my needles, reknitting the cardi a size larger.  Through the spring of this year I busily knit away. New kits come to live with us and discover what fun my knitting is.somebody's discovered my knittingI’m really struggling with this blogpost now.  Moment of truth. I have enjoyed all the spinning, and dyeing and knitting of this project (well, almost all – not the undoing) but I will level with you: I am not happy with the re-knitted and completed cardi! Not happy at all. Oh dear, so much love, so much labour, so much effort!

I finished it a fortnight ago, and so dispirited was I that I just put it away, in a cupboard, out of sight, out of mind.  It is only today that I have got it out, and here it is.finished cardiIt actually looks very good considering it’s just tacked together, doesn’t have any buttons, and hasn’t been blocked. The nupps look great, the flashes of colour are good.

But it looks awful on me – the colour is wrong (far too washed out and pale), and the style just doesn’t suit me at all. I don’t really like it at all. I know I won’t wear it.K with new cardiHmm – I’ve been mulling what to do with this yarn.  I have over 1,500 yards of it – about 550 g.

I could do another cardi using this pattern that I swatched a long time ago, and which I like very much.  But it’s double stranded as you carry the colour behind the back which makes it very thick. I don’t wear thick jerseys any longer so I don’t think it would work for me.old swatchOr, I could do another shawl like this one I finished recently.K with fika shawlThis is Karie Westermann’s Fika shawl, and it is also knit with my homespun. You can see my trademark colour streaks in the detail of the shawl below. I am glad to say that I am very pleased with this shawl indeed!detail of shawlI’m still just mulling this over.  I guess the first thing will be to be brave and actually unravel my Tambourine cardigan.

I’ll keep you posted on what I decide to do next.

And, if you have any suggestions for how I might use my lovingly-produced homespun, please let me know!

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Lost - and found.

27 thoughts on “A slow blue – and unsuccessful – knit”

  1. I love your fleckledy, speckledy , hanks of , oh so blue with hints of purple wool …it just looks so beautiful in that basket .
    I like the simplicity of the cardigan and the shawl is so pretty . I have no idea how you will decide ! : ) x


    1. I love the sweater but the grays really detract from the sweater. Have you thought about redyeing it. I took a Craftsy class where they talked about making semi-solid yard with 3 colors of dyes (class by Sarah Eyre). Maybe you could add more bright blue and brighten up the grays. That would be much more flattering with your hair color. Such a shame to waste all your time and effort. Best wishes.


      1. Interesting idea that this is, I have to say that I don’t think I can face doing any more dyeing – and over dyeing would lose all the different strands of colour I’ve spun into it. I do think you’re right about the grey-blues in this knit – maddeningly, sometimes my camera shows the cardi as really quite blue, and other times it does take on a grey tinge. The greyer tinge is closer to the truth, but it is not helped because I’m wearing a very blue dress – so I’m going to try the cardi now with some other dresses to see if that will help. Thank you so much for your advice 🙂


  2. I see what you mean and how you are perceiving it. I do not care for it either. I think the colours detract from the nupps or the other way around! And love the yarn and it’s variegated composition. Also love the shawl. Is the yarn fine enough to do it? I think the colours would be outstanding in it. And that Deco cardi has been on my list for some time…
    very frustrating!!!


    1. Yes, the yarn is definitely fine enough for a shawl, Susan – and I think I have enough spare to knit a shawl even without unravelling the cardi – so I will almost certainly knit a shawl with this yarn sometime. You have got to make time for the Deco cardigan – it’s such a nice knit, and lovely to wear.


  3. [J] Well the yarn you made is really lovely, so nothing wrong with that, you just need an appropriate use for it. Failing which, how about swapping the unused yarn for someone else’s handspun (hopefully of similar quality)? Cardi: maybe a ‘bit too much going on’? Might have been better without the raised design (nupps?) On the other hand, someone might love it! Don’t rush to unpick it!


    1. Lots of interesting suggestions – thank you! The one decision I have made is that I definitely won’t rush to unpick it – too many ideas from all you helpful commentators, and I need to think them through. I’ll keep you posted …

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s such a big thing to do – to undo all that work – isn’t it, Laura? so, OK, it’s a date – if I still am undecided by the autumn, I’m coming to see you! (and will help with yours 🙂 )

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Don’t unravel it!!! After all that work…… Though I suppose you could think of it as a sand mandala, and you do seem to have a meditative quality to your work….. It looks lovely I think, though bluer in the pic of it alone than on you – can see it’s not the kind of colour you usually wear though I don’t see the style not suiting you. Maybe you could find another worthy recipient for it?
    I learnt a new word: rolag. Just love those oh so soft curls of fluffy colour.


    1. I like the idea of a sand mandala, Polly, but it goes completely against the productive Anglo-Saxon Protestant mould I was brought up in! It’s true my knitting and sewing are getting more meditative though – that is quite an achievement for me 🙂


  5. Such a pity that you are not happy with your completed cardi. I think it is really beautiful and fits you perfectly. When you have put contrasting buttons on and sewn it up it will look fabulous. Perhaps pick up some of the colours you wove in, like the red and maybe a little yellow. A skirt in a wild red-flowers-yellow-centres print would lift your whole outfit and satisfy your love of colour too. Do not give up on this cardigan it really is lovely and your spinning puts me to shame.


    1. So kind of you to say my spinning is good, but it is actually very nubbly. I just spin to enjoy the process and to get colour. I really like your idea of a wild flowers skirt with this cardi – so I think I’m going to look through my wardrobe, try it with some different clothes, and also see if I can find a garment such as you suggest. Whatever – I won’t be rushing to frog it and am really grateful for all this helpful advice.


  6. If you frog it what about plying with a bright blue fine commercial yarn might make it more usual for you I do think it is beautiful though


  7. Love this detailed post. So sorry you are not happy with the cardigan… But I think it is so worth it to give it a second chance. My advice – put it away for a week or two, don’t think about, don’t wonder what to do with that. Then take it out and if you still feel that something is not quiet right, just unravel it, I know how hard it is, but you will feel so much lighter and free (I know I do 🙂 ). I physically can’t stand the thought of not-quiet right handmade garment dusting in my wardrobe :). This yarn deserves to be knit up into something that makes you instantly happy!!!


    1. Thank you, Alina! – such good advice. It’s always one’s instinct to deal with a problem immediately, isn’t it – but how much better one views a problem with time and distance. I was very struck by the bit you wrote in your recent blog about World Knitters where Alison talks about ripping out being part of the joy of knitting ( http://giftofknitting.com/world-crafter-alison-montreal-canada/ ) – think I have yet to take this on board 😦 … but I will try! … if that is my eventual decision. You are quite right – I too can’t stand things being not right 🙂


  8. As you know, I am no stranger to bitter disappointment in spinning/knitting. Whilst to me the yarn looks lovely, the process fascinating…i am going to proceed directly from your dissatisfaction with it. I wonder if stripes may be the key here. A solid light bright line green or acidic orange would make both the colour and texture pop in an enlivening way and give you the brightness and dynamism in the fabric that you are looking for. Either a stripey cardy or a short rows assymetrical shawl would work well I think, particularly with the handspun in garter st and the contrast in stockinette… Anyway…just thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Rebecca, I know about your disappointments 🙂 and I was encouraged to write honestly for this blogpost by what I have read of those. Thank you for your ideas – which are really encouraging and interesting like all the other correspondents here. And stripes is just where I was going in my own mind – not sure I feel quite brave enough for bright lime green and orange …. but I may indeed go with those when all these ideas have percolated through my thoughts. There is something not-right about the texture of the yarn I have spun for fitted cardis, I think – it is a woollen spun and quite springy, perhaps needs to be a softer spin … not sure. But I know this yarn would work well for a shawl, so I might be going that way – lots and lots to think about. How nice to have a disappointing project turn into pleasurable planning with all these good ideas!


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