Some women crave doughnuts…

Published on Sunday March 11th, 2012

… but I, apparently, just want a shot of pure color.

I went to the Madrona retreat last month with the goal of finding a non-Merino DK wool for Kate Davies’s Deco cardigan. Browsing the websites of vendors in advance, I cast my eye on Sweetgrass Wool’s Mountain Silk, a Targhee/silk blend that looked promising. I first gravitated to the lichen and straw shades — a bright leaf-colored cardigan would be just the thing for the season. But I found myself unable to ignore a warm pinky orange, which is not in my usual palette at all. I’m not even sure it’s a color I could wear, but I thought I’d check it out at the marketplace and make a decision there. Sadly, it turned out to be much more pink than orange, and I was surprised to find I really had my heart set on a hot orangey red. I actually walked clear ’round the market afterward thinking maybe I just wouldn’t buy anything this year. (Go ahead, laugh.) Then I saw them: loose hanging skeins of the most vivid coral red, a flash of scarlet peeping out from a forest of muted earth tones, like cardinals in the conifers. They were an order of magnitude brighter than anything I’d pictured adding to my stash or to my closet. They were a color my grandmother would have chosen. They were perfect. “They’re probably Merino,” I sighed to myself. They weren’t. They are Polwarth wool with a bit of silk, and home they came with me from the Artful Ewe booth. (I’d link their website, but there’s no yarn to be seen there. Visit if you find yourself in Port Gamble, Washington some weekend, though. I mean to.)  The Polwarth sheep is, to be fair, three-quarters Saxon Merino in its ancestry, but includes Lincoln genes to add stoutness and luster. This yarn, called Argentina, is soft and svelte and springy, but whispers of a sturdier character as you knit. Particularly at the tight gauge Kate dictates in this pattern, I expect it to wear very nicely.

My beginnings have grown far past the attractive slip-stitch hem you see here. Non-knitters may now tune out if they haven’t already: I’m about to get really geeky and technical. A note on working this stitch motif, if you’re thinking about making this cardigan yourself: I found I was having trouble with “rowing out” in my reverse stockinet stitches immediately left of the slipped columns. The strand behind the slipped stitch doesn’t provide enough tension on the first of the purl stitches to hold it in shape, so it loosens up and crowds its upstairs neighbor, and your knitting appears to divide itself into bands of two rows. This is a not a sweater I mean to wear to the dog park, if you know what I mean. I want it to look its absolute best so it can class up my wardrobe. So the rowing out was bugging me when I swatched. But I found I could solve it entirely by wrapping the yarn clockwise for the first of the purl stitches. This maneuver uses less yarn, so it winds up adding the necessary tension to even out that stitch. It also twists the mount of the stitch, so you must knit it through the back leg on the return row, but that’s no extra effort. The near cousin of this problem came to visit once I was out of the hem section; for the body of the cardigan the slipped column is flanked to the left by a knit stitch. You don’t see the bands as you do on the purl side; instead you get an uneven column of V’s BIGsmallBIGsmall up the work. It’s just as unsightly and detracts from the clean line of the slipped stitch. I’m not sure if the wrong-way wrap trick would solve it for a knit stitch — it might well — but it’s a more awkward maneuver for a thrower like me and would also involve purling through the back on the return row, which I don’t believe is anyone’s favorite. My solution is to slip and knit as usual on the front side of the work, but then on the purl side to lift the strand onto the left needle and work it together with the slipped stitch. There, now, that’s far more than you wanted to know. But maybe it will help some frustrated perfectionist out there…

I’m adding a wee bit of length to this cardigan because 12.5″ from hem to underarm sounds really, really short for my long torso, but I’m worried about running out of yarn, so I’m going to let it be a more cropped style than I usually wear. That’s an excuse to look for some cute, high-waisted, vintage dresses like the ones Kate seems to have in her closet, right? Oh, and apparently this poppy red is some kind of Color of the Year, which I totally didn’t know when I chose it. I feel so trendy in spite of myself.

7 Comments to “Some women crave doughnuts…”

  1. Seanna Lea Comment Says:

    It is a gorgeous color. It looks a lot like the color I (though admittedly deeper) I used for my Tangled Yoke cardigan. If I am ever out that way, I’ll have to check out the yarn. It would be nice to try more than just the merinos of the world.

  2. Siga Comment Says:

    That colour is amazing. And you totally did not loose me on the knitting tech section. I hope all the effort pays out and the cardi turns out the way you want it to be. I’m sure you can rock it the way Kate does. Maybe you can find a nice dress with Cabbages&Roses? I got some skirts there and am in love. All thanks to Kate.

  3. Luci Comment Says:

    Gorgeous color of yarn, and looks perfect for the “Deco” cardigan. I, too, purchased this pattern, so your hints will be very helpful as I work mine. This cardigan looks like a “wear it a lot,” type cardigan, so it calls for just the right yarn. The search is on for a yarn that makes my heart go pitter patter. Thank you for sharing your good information.

  4. Max Comment Says:

    This is the best colour and I do love polworth yarn. It will look amazing on you! I do love Kate Davies patterns too, but sometimes I don’t know if I feel up to them. I mean wearing them. Not knitting them. The very chic cardigans like Manu and Deco seem so grown up and sophisticated. The perfect dresses that go with them are awesome too. Sometimes I even think I can work the look, but then I take a look at myself in my t-shirts with slogans and jeans that I wear almost every day of my life and, well… I love her (and your) woolly attitude though! I wear wool hand knits everyday and I am tempted to copy you in your deco making. It will cover the t-shirt after all.

  5. Fleur Cotton Comment Says:

    Love this colour, look forward to seeing your finished cardigan, I’ve looked at this pattern loads, not bought it yet, but I really fancy starting it, I just love Kate’s designs.

    The cardigan does look lovely with dresses but I think a beautifully knitted cardigan can dress anything up..even your jeans!!

    Happy Knitting
    Fleur xx

  6. Allison Comment Says:

    That color is incredible! I am adding Polwarth to my list of “to-knit” yarns…

  7. linken Comment Says:

    The Artful Ewe is a sweet little shop. 🙂 (It is what I imagine an old time turn of the century yarn shop would have looked like, had they had such things back then. *grin*) They are only open Friday – Sunday. In a picture perfect model town. Seriously- you look for movie equipment, thinking that you are at studio, not a seaside town. However, to entice my driver, I let him know there is a BBQ joint there – we tried it out last weekend. Amazing.

    If you need more yarn….just twist my arm…I can go to the lovely shop and mail it on down. 🙂