Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cashmere & natural dyes

I found a cashmere sweater with cables made of lace to light fingering weight yarn. It was a nice beige color and I made a full sized Laminaria for my grandmother, but that only used most of the sleeves. It was a nice beige, but really? Beige? Not for me. So what to do with the rest of it...

So I grabbed a short pieces and went to the kitchen (better known as my laboratory, insert evil laugh here) and started experimenting. We know we need vinegar but what else? Ahh, some coffee grounds from this morning, and that nasty mangostene green tea that I simply cannot bring myself to drink (it was bought because it was on sale really cheap and now I know why). Well, we'll throw in all that stuff and why not use apple cider vinegar since it's already out on the counter (it's not just for barbecue anymore!)

I hanked up a big ball and actually tied the tea bags and coffee grounds to it hoping for some real variegation. When it came out, cooled off, and I finally got all the coffee grounds washed out of it I was disappointed that it wasn't that variegated but it was a beautiful gold color! Upon knitting it into an Aeolian shawlette I can see that there is a perfect amount of variegation: lighter spots of almost beige and darker spots closer to golden brown.

I still have enough yarn leftover to make something else (I'm thinking another lightweight sweater) I may have to attempt to recreate this lovely color. Although green would be nice too. Oh the decisions! I can't believe I got enough yarn for two shawls and a sweater out of just this one big old cashmere sweater!


My latest design involved unraveling a handknit sweater that was too small in the body and too long in the arms for, well, anyone I dare say. I hated to see it laying in the closet unused.

So first off: unraveling a handknit sweater is a bit different from your average commercial sweater. Watch the seams and ends because it can get a bit dicey. It was beautiful dove grey wool that just screamed at me CABLES! Then off to the local library I found the perfect plaited cable in the Vogue Stitchionary Vol. 2.

I wanted cables, but nothing too bulky. It's a sport weight yarn so I used size 7 needles. Made for a very nice fabric with a lot of stretch. It's a top down raglan and I used a provisional cast on (my favorite way of beginning top down raglan sweaters) and tried it on as I went for a perfect fit. I increased one stitch on each edge of sleeves and back as usual and one stitch on each front for a deep V-neck.

The front increases are done right at the neckline so that I could incorporate the emerging pattern. It has a single plaited cable on each sleeve, one down the front, and two stockinette bands on either side of the front cable. I worked waist shaping on the sides as well as incorporating some of the decreases/increases into the stockinette band and the front reverse stockinette panels. This, I thought, helped create a more slimming hourglass shape.

The edges are worked in k 2 p 2 rib with decreases on the neckline at the point of the V as well as one on each side where the sleeves and back raglan increases lie. All in all I'm very happy with the results.