Thursday, January 31, 2013

My Downton Cardigan and How Grown-ups Wash Wool

This is my Downton Cardigan that I knit for the Downton Knitalong hosted by Shannon of Luvinthemommyhood this month.  I kind of love it... and the bike... and links... so be warned.

I've spotted loop frames like this bicycle several times through all three seasons of Downton Abbey, so I thought it was a good excuse for photo overload.

 (on my Ravelry and Flickr )

The pattern is Hannah Fettig's Whispy Cardi and required only one skein of lace yarn, with some to spare.  I made a size xs and had plenty of ease though I'm normally a size 34".  (Many knitters went down a size for a better fit.)  Hannah's patterns are so easy to follow and so beautifully photographed that I had to get the actual print copy of Knitbot Essentials.


My notes:
I used sizes 0,1, and 2 needles to get gauge and Madelinetosh lace yarn in Nectar.  I do have to say that, though I loved using Madelinetosh lace, I wish I'd used a fingering weight instead.  It isn't really a problem, just a personal preference toward a little more heft.  Buying the sock yarn, however, would have required purchasing 2 skeins rather than 1.  Remember, I justified this purchase with the whole group knitting experience as an excuse; I couldn't justify more than one skein to myself.


This was a pretty quick project, completed within January even though I worked sporadically. The details I love best about it are the gather at the center of the back and how stitches are picked up to form the collar and band around the back (as below).   They make it special without requiring difficult techniques.  One note about the photo below: I did go back, after finishing the whole thing, and picked up stitches on the right sleeve, adding a few rows because they somehow came out uneven.


Speaking of group knitting, The knitalong forum was key to keeping me motivated.  I'd see everyone's progress and feel compelled to pick my little sweater back up and finish.  Aside from commiserating after last week's episode of Downton- you know, the one with Sybil- the group also gave me some good project ideas for the future.

There's the Downton CowlRegina, the Sideways Grande ClocheLucy, and Rustling Leaves.   But the most Downtonesque pattern I came across, as I tried to choose what my own project would be, was Ecuador by Joji Locatelli. It required too much yardage or else it would be mine.








Enough about the making of this sweater.  I want to talk about something even more riveting: the washing of this sweater.

Shannon's post (in the first link) got me thinking about how, since I've been churning out more knits in the last few years, I've graduated into a more serious washing/ blocking ritual.  Not only do I usually knit and block a swatch these days, I've also started washing with gentle detergent instead of whatever I had sitting beside the washing machine.  I cringe as I think of how I mishandled my first few years worth of knitting projects in order to clean them.

Now, I use Dawn, or the store brand equivalent detergent (not soap).  This may not seem like a big improvement since it's not as gentle and rinse free like Soak or Eucalan, but it's working for me and I always have some handy.




To wash this paper thin cardigan:

I just filled the bathroom lavatory with hot water (this was a very hard leap of faith for me the first time)  and a squirt of Dawn, I laid my sweater on it, then pressed it down so it absorbed water.
After letting it soak a bit, I pulled the plug to drain.  I pushed the sweater to the side as I refilled the basin with more hot water.  Another soak to rinse it.

The rinse process can be repeated until the water seems clear.  Of course, if you use Soak, you can skip rinsing altogether and move on to drying.

I carefully lifted my sweater from the water and laid it on a towel, which I rolled up and stomped on to press out the water.  

Then I laid it across my kitchen table on a dry towel and shaped it, being careful to keep the bottom, front edges from curling.  It only took a few hours for this one to dry.



If I'm doing several sweaters at once, I follow the same method, only I use the washing machine, utilizing the rinse cycles until I'm ready to spin them dry.  They dry very quickly after a spin.  I haven't had a sweater shrink up, or grow in an unusual way, since I've been doing this.

(on my instagram


A couple of good blocking posts here: from Shannon at Luvinthemommyhood and Fuzzy Galore.

Here are my previous posts about the Downton Cardigan if you're interested:  swatching, week 1, week 2, and week 3 .

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