Recently in Liberty Category

Liberty from All Angles

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Break out the champagne, Liberty is absolutely and completely finished. Not a single end remains to be woven in. All the last details are wrapped up and in place. All that remains are the pictures. And here they are:

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Liberty from the Front

While I don't like cold grey weather, I wasn't completely upset that today it was cool enough to wear a wool/microfiber/cashmere blend sweater to work. Yes, for me, Liberty does require a little tank top underneath. It could be suggested that I made a size too small, but the rest of the proportions are right, and the wrap edges reach where they should. Liberty just has a little more sex appeal than I initially gave her credit for.

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Liberty from the Back

As you can see, the back fits almost perfectly (in support of my feeling that the sizing is correct). I am very much in love with the way this top looks from the back. I think the shaping is lovely and the ties add a sweet little detail. I initially wondered if the ties would be heavy looking and feeling, but in the end I think they are well balanced for the garment.

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Liberty from the Side

How could I not love a sleeve like this? See how well matched the striping is to the side of the garment? I would love to take credit for that, but it's all part of the design. The cap is also meant to match most of the way up the armscye, and it does. It's things like this that make all the effort worth while.

Now that the project is complete and I can wear Liberty out into the world, I will say that I think that the effort was absolutely worth it. I love the fit of the garment and a days worth of wearing resulted in no itching or scratching. I just felt so happy all day long at work in my new sweater. Also, after a days' worth of wear, it retains the shape that it's supposed to and didn't start pilling violently. Not only that, the wraps stayed completely in place where they were supposed to. Liberty is definitely a top that fits into a professional wardrobe. And I now have something knitted with a happy bit of orange and green in it that doesn't make me look like I am vaguely seasick.

A few notes...

I did very little in the way of going beyond the pattern. I did choose to do a tubular cast on, which I think makes a nicer edge for the ribbing and one that doesn't pull in where it's not supposed to. To seam the edges of the ties, I used a very simple stitching which involved just sewing through each pair of cast on and bound off edge stitches. I attatched the ties to the back of the edging such that the short end edge was juxtaposed against the inner edge of the grey trim and stitched it in place with some leftover yarn. Setting in the sleeves was a breeze since there were stripes to be matched against.

So this long-delayed, somewhat unloved project has really moved to a special place in my sweater drawer. Wearing this garment makes me feel happy and a little bit sophisticated and like a Knitter with a capital "K". There's really nothing about it that I can complain about. The armholes are just right and not binding, the waist shaping is perfect for me and lands in exactly the right place. The seaming looks presentable. The edging lays exactly the way it is supposed to. All that finishing work was rewarded with something that will be in my spring and fall wardrobe rotation for some time to come.

And for anyone who is interested, you can still download Liberty for free from Rowan.

Almost Finished Finishing

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Liberty Awaits Her Ties

This weekend I dedicated myself to weaving in ends. Not as difficult as you might imagine, because the weekend was filled with the rainy cool weather that I usually associate with April in Chicago. I wove in ends almost every free moment I had until very early Sunday morning when there were no more ends to weave in. Liberty is now endless, so to speak. And her sleeves are set in. She looks quite fetching, don't you think? Graceful neckline, stripes on the sleeve caps that match the body of the sweater. Subtle shaping at the waist that gives her some feminine curves.

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The Ends and a Bottle Of Endurance

In spite of the fact that I am finished adding to this large pile of ends (beer bottle for both reference and relaxation during the process) there is still more work to be done! I still need to create the two ties that will hold the wrap fronts in place. While I'd rather be all the way done at this point, after all the weaving in of ends, the thought of knitting the ties is actually quite pleasant.

However, the lack of ties did not stop me from doing a first try on to see how the fit had come out and to see how the Cashsoft DK feels against my skin. The fit, in my estimation, is quite good (although the cut of the front opening means that Liberty will definitely have to be worn over a tank top or camisole) and the feel is to die for. This is one of the very first yarns that I've knit with that doesn't give me that itchy feeling when worn against my skin. So soft --i it reminds me of very fine angora, without the fuzzy halo. Soft enough that after trying on Liberty I started looking through all the Rowan Classic pattern books I could find on line to see if there was anything else that I might want to make.

Liberty Forever And Ever

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Liberty Moves Slowly Forward

Liberty and I are still making progress with each other. As of the end of Thursday afternoon I had all the ends on the front right part of the garment. The left side is still to go. And the sleeves. Sigh. No CeCe for me until I get Liberty finished.

That sunshine streaming across Liberty was the sun of a perfect spring day. I've been very inspired by spring. In part because of the scene in the courtyard of the building I work in:

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Flowering Trees in the CTP Courtyard

A pleasant and sunny weekend to everyone!

Infintesimal Progress

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Trimmed Ends from Liberty

This photo, unfortunately, represents an entire afternoon's work weaving in ends on Liberty. I say "unfortunately" because this also represents just the ends on one edge of the back of the top -- I still have five more edges to go! Insert big sigh here. I am trying to soldier on, but the road is daunting.

I might have gotten a bit farther if John and I hadn't gone out to see Spamalot! tonight at the Cadillac Palace Theatre here in Chicago. If you like yourself some Monty Python (and the husband and I do) Spamalot is a great evening. It's hard to explain why my favorite line is "That's just not something you usually admit to a heavily armed Christian" if you haven't seen the show. Context is everything. Especially with Python. And both John and I completely cracked up over that line.

I'm going to have to work really hard to come up with something better than a larger pile of ends to show off tomorrow!

Edges of Liberty

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I'm afraid it's going to be all Liberty all the time for a little while as I try to keep motivated to get the finishing done. The first step for me was to sew the shoulder seams and then pick up >300 stitches around the fronts edges and neck line.

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Liberty Begins to Take Shape

The edging is a nice edging that involves creating a few rows of stockinette, followed by a purl row to create a fold area and a few more rows of stockinette before binding off. The result is a pleasantly firm edge that gives structure to the garment but doesn't overwhelm it. Which I first thought it might when I realized how thick it was going to be.

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Liberty Edge Detail

Quite lovely, I think. Firm, lovely, and not overwhelming at all. Except binding off greater than 300 stitches. That was a little overwhelming. After I got everything bound off, I realized I wasn't so sure just exactly how I was going to attach the folded over edge to the inside of the garment. Since it definitely doesn't want to roll, I decided that I could go with functional rather than strictly beautiful and I opted for a simple whip stich under the bound off edge and under the edge stitch that rolled inward after I picked up the stitches to create the edge. If there was a better way to do this, don't tell me now! There's no way I'm going to go back and redo it.

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The Underside of The Edge Attached

Originally I was planning to be a bit sneaky with the ends and just weave in the ones you couldn't see and gradually over time take care of the rest. However, after giving it a preliminary try-on, I've concluded that those extra ends will probably add bulk and bulges that will not make me want to wear Liberty. So the next phase in the journey is going to be hunkering down and weaving in a bunch of ends. Where's that bottle of wine when you really need it?

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Two Sleeves for Liberty

There you have it, folks. All of Liberty's primary pieces are now fully knitted, and I'm departing Sleeve Island for an even scarier place: the Isles of Copious Finishing. This is always a treacherous passage for me, but even more so for Liberty because of the following:

1) A Zillion Ends to Weave In
2) A 306 Stitch Pick-Up Edging That Has to Be Folded Over and Sewn On The Inside
3) Set In Sleeves
4) Sleeve Caps that Must Be Matched to the Back and Front of the Garment
5) Two Ties that Must Be Properly Attached
6) Did I mention the Zillion Ends to Weave In?

Liberty is definitely one of those garments, that, in the end, are made or broken by the quality of the finishing work they receive. I'm trying to remind myself that to rush now and be sloppy is to do a serious injustice to the entire project. So I'm trying to be very meticulous and careful about the project in hopes that I will have a lovely final reward awaiting me for my patience and perserverence.

And did y'all see Bonne Marie's lovely CeCe Cardigan pattern that she made available over the weekend? I'm completely in love. So cute for spring and summer and early fall. If I had enough Calmer sitting in my stash, I'd already be knitting on it. I'm trying to remember that I have committments to some other projects right now. But it's definitely on my list of "future knits".

Return of Spring Knitting

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The First Outdoor Knitting of Spring

There are lots of ways to mark the change of the seasons. One way I mark the transition from winter to spring is when I can start to sit on my small balcony in the sunshine without a sweater on and enjoy a bit of knitting or reading or spinning. Overall, this week has been quite nice in Chicago and Liberty and I took advantage of that fact and made some progress towards leaving Sleeve Island while enjoying some podcasts in the sunshine.

I'm hoping tomorrow will bring me to closer to being able to catch the boat from Sleeve Island to the Isles of Copius Finishing. And I'm going to be helped along by the Chicago Public Library. Now you can "borrow" audiobooks electronically. How cool is that?

Devotion

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I have been unwavering in my devotion to Liberty of late. After finishing up the second front piece, I packed my knitting bag for an extended trip to Sleeve Island. I was expecting to be sitting on the shore baking in the unrelenting sun for quite some time before I got a break from my labor, but Liberty has been exceptionally kind so far, and I find myself in posession of a first finished sleeve.

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One Sleeve for Liberty

Sometimes sleeves seem to go on forever, other times they seem to sail by. This one hardly seemed to take me any time at all once I started to get serious about it. I think maybe it had to do with the burst of chilly weather we got this weekend that reminded me that there still might be a chance for me to wear Liberty once this year if I actually got busy and got the pieces knit and assembled. That and the fact that it has become apparent that I am not going to run out of yarn on this project, so I don't have to spend a lot of time fretting over that problem any more. It's kind of amazing how much time and energy I can expend being concerned about not having enough yarn.

I took a short breather to head to the Sleeve Island 7-11 to pick up some bottled water and a few snacks to tide me over as I work on the next sleeve. My return back to the mainland doesn't seem so far away any more.

Keeping Promises

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Thanks for all the nice compliments on Melody. Melody, I think, is testimony to the fact that sometimes very simple things can give you very nice results. You just have to have patience -- something that is usually in short supply when I am concerned.

In keeping with the theme of working my way through lingering projects, I finally got back to working on Liberty.

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The Front Sides of Liberty

I know the two pieces don't look exactly the same size, but the one on the left is pinned down for blocking, while the one on the right has been blocked and waiting for me to do something with it for quite some time. I think the left piece will relax into a smaller shape once I free it from its pins.

It didn't take very much effort to get the second front (the one on the left in the picture) completed. I wish I could remember why I stopped just a few inches from completing the piece. Probably I had no good reason at all, it just got warmer in Chicago as I was working on it and I didn't think I'd get the chance to wear it any time soon so I moved on to something else. I am beginning to wonder a little bit about the wisdom of the orange and the green for me -- which is, of course, one of the things that got me excited about the project in the first place. But I still enjoy working with the yarn. The Rowan Cashsoft D is really nice stuff, as is the Rowan Cashcotton DK. Very few yarns are truly against the skin wearable for me, but I think this stuff will definitely work out.

In addition to finishing and blocking the second front piece, I also cast on for the first of the sleeves. Hopefully I can keep my virtuous-ness going and actually get both sleeves complete before another year passes me by.

Dear Unfinished Projects,

Now that I have finished the Pearl Buck Swing Jacket, you'll be happy to know that it is now time for me to decide what to tackle next. As I began to do a little spring cleaning in my fiber room, I realized, however, that a number of you larger sized projects have been hiding out, waiting to be found. Some of you, in fact, have been waiting a shamefully long time with relatively little left remaining to make you complete. I have decided that I just can't justify starting something new until a few of you become the finished projects you were meant to be.

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Top Left: Jo Sharp Kaleidoscope Vest, Bottom Left: Handspun Spiral Rug, Top Right: Liberty Wrap Top

In order to help me combat project neglect, I thought I would engage in some self-analysis.

Handspun Spiral Rug. Poor rug! I knitted through all your garter stitch monotony, figured out how to connect your edges together in a way that appealed to me, and then neglected to give you the border edging that you deserved. The word "neglect" in that last sentence was not one I chose without reason. I literally lost track of where you went. Yesterday I discovered you in a basket on the high shelf in my laundry room under a table runner waiting for a bath. How did you get there? I suspect that a well meaning husband, straightening things up before our cleaning lady came to clean, put you out of harms way in the basket and the basket got moved to a place that is above eye level for me, and since I was in denial about dealing with your applied I-cord edging I did not put to much effort into finding you. Clearly I must work harder to make sure that future projects are stored away more carefully when I am not working on them. And deal with my deep-seeded issues relating to applied I-cord.

Liberty Wrap Top. Beautiful and soft, but plagued with two issues that can bring me to a total standstill every time. The first, and more surmountable, issue is that after your pieces are complete, I will have approximatley 1,324,926 ends to weave in. If I avoid colorwork, it is almost always because of the issue with weaving in ends. The second, and much less tractable, issue is the my constant fear of running out of yarn. I have finished your back and am but a short distance from having both fronts finished. Two large sleeves and a significant amount of ribbed edging finishing still remain. And all the yarn I have left is what you can see in the picture. So in this case, the fear of running out of yarn, also exacerbates the fear of weaving in all the ends. I don't want to weave them in as I go along, because what if I run out of yarn and can't complete the sweater? All that weaving in of ends will have gone to waste. I didn't buy an extra ball of that grey and orange yarn because I've been okay with Rowan patterns in the past and because I am a cheapskate who didn't want a bunch of extra, somewhat expensive, yarn left over. I am paying for that cheap-heartedness now.

Kaleidoscope Vest. More wonderful colorwork, but fewer unpleasant ends to weave in because the incredible Jo Sharp decided to design you in such a way as to make it not so difficult to carry yarn up the sides. I started you not so long ago, with much enthusiasm (it is hard not to be enthusiastic about Jo Sharp DK weight wool). Why did I cast you aside, even after putting you in one of my cute new Longaberger baskets? Apparently in addition to my fears of weaving in ends, interminable amounts of applied I-cord, and running out of yarn, I also have a fear of garments being too small for the intended recipient, and I do not trust my own measurements, even when I have calculated them several times and know they are correct. Especially when combined with having to break the continuity of a ball of yarn into multiple pieces that cannot be re-attached if the sizing is off. Nothing would help me go further with this project unless I could hold you up against the intended recipient. Since he doesn't share a house with me, that didn't happen until February. And in the meantime my eye was drawn by the seductive Pearl Buck and the call of some long ignored yarn in my stash.

I want to let you know that there is good news for all of you. Because all of these issues are issues with me, not you, I am going to work to overcome my problems.

To my Handspun Spiral Rug, the closest of all to the finish line, requiring only blocking and a finishing edging, I promise that I will block you soon. I will also look through all my books on edgings and trims and find out if there is something that can replace that dreaded applied I-cord. Perhaps a simple crocheted edging is in order? If not, I will suck it up, pour myself a glass of wine and queue up an audio book, and deal with the applied edging like the dedicated knitter you deserve.

To my Liberty Top, although the issue of weaving in ends cannot be solved, other than by weaving them in, I will finish the remaining front piece and work on the first sleeve before I decide to be too concerned about running out of yarn. In the meantime, I will contact the place where I got the yarn from and see if they have any more of the grey and orange yarns in the same dyelot. If they do, I will order them even if I don't end up needing them. Consider it penance for being cheap (a stupid thing after you have already spent a bunch of money of the recommended amount of yarn) on a sweater that I should not have purchased yarn for if I was only about cheap.

To the Kaleidoscope Vest, abadoned because of my issues and because I am easily drawn by another pretty face, there will be no more big projects started until I have worked some more to bring you to fruition. I will curb my wandering eye. Whenever I think about buying yarn for another sweater project for myself, I will think of the two pounds of moorit CVM roving waiting to be spun, and I will sit down in front of my wheel instead. It takes me much longer to create temptation than it does for me to buy it!

In closing, I hope you all realize that I am working hard to overcome my fears and to get beyond my shortcomings. At least, I can honestly say that I think in picking you, I have picked good projects that I will look forward to wearing and using or sharing. I have come a long way from the time when I would cast anything on, even if it was not quite right for me. Clearly, I still have a long way to go in considering techniques that I will see through to the end and keeping my roving new project eye at bay, but if you will give me another chance, I will keep working through my issues and hopefully you will all be finished soon, and future projects will not be tormented so much by my lack of attention.

Sincerely yours,

The Keyboard Biologist

Liberty, Front Left

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Another Piece of Liberty

When I actually put my mind to it and work on Liberty, the knitting doesn't really take all that long. I guess it pays to focus. My problem is that I have too much to focus on, crafty and otherwise, so nothing seems to move forward quickly. Ah well, it's unlikely that I will be wearing a cashmere blend sweater until fall anyway, so if Liberty's pace is more gradual, that's fine with me.

Where did I disappear to last week? Well, work stole away one of those posts and a trip to a fabulous restaurant to celebrate John's birthday a little later than usual took up the other. Alinea
is almost deserving of a post of it's own (it was the sort of place I wish I'd had a camera in... but it's also the sort of place that you would probably not want to pull your camera out in). Suffice it to say, we loved it, it was a wonderful dining experience in both food and service. Both the food and presentation was always clever.

Blog of the Day
If you're ever looking for a source of sock-y inspiration, one place I can recommend taking a click over to is Sockbug. Be sure to check out her sock gallery (under "Sniff My Socks"). Lots of lovely patterns and interesting sock yarn abound! She also has links to quite a few free sock patterns and some excellent sock knitting tips.

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Getting My Back Up: The Back of Liberty In Blocking Mode

Finally I have accomplished something significant. The back of Liberty is complete. Funny, isn't it, how even though I have definitely used more grey yarn, that it appears that the orange is the predominant color?

So far, I've had no issues with the pattern, though there are some places (especially in the body shaping) that you need to pay close attention to the instructions, otherwise you end up ripping and redoing, since the shaping doesn't occur at completely even intervals. And even though I am going to have a lot of ends to weave in and the edges of the garment so far aren't terribly pretty, I will say one thing about stripes -- it's definitely easy to keep track of where you are in the garment, and if you have to rip back, that makes it a lot easier to know where to rip back to.

The cool weather tonight is driving me to think about casting on for the first of the front pieces. But casting on is competing a bit with practicing a bit with my spindle. A girl can hardly complain about having too many fibery options consider, though.

Liberty Continues

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Just A Little More to Go

In the midst of all the Maryland excitement, I've still been working on Liberty. I'm not looking forward to weaving in all the ends, but I have nothing to complain about at all when it comes to the knitting. I love both the yarn and the project, even if I've had to do a little ripping to accomodate for the fact that I don't read instructions very well.

By the way, if you're interested in this pattern, but don't want to buy the whole book, Rowan is giving away the pattern for Liberty. You've got to give them some personal information before you get to download the file. I did it just to get an easy to print out copy of the pattern.

Liberty Rising

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Liberty Back, Just Past the Decreasing

I guess you can tell that I like knitting with the CashCotton and Cashsoft yarn. It's been giving me the heebeegeebees snipping that yarn at the sides. It just seems so wrong! But carrying it up the sides wouldn't be so great either, so I clipped. I'm sure I'll be looking for sympathy when I have to deal with the weaving in of all those ends.

But my favorite thing about this sweater so far? Something I like almost more than the yarn?

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Tubular Cast On in Grey

The tubular cast on. Is this a pretty edge or what? It's not a fast cast on method, but the results are absolutely fabulous in my estimation. Anyone out there ever tried it for a sock top? Looks like it could have lots of potential there.

Tubular cast-ons are ideally suited for K1 P1 ribbing where you need a good stretchy edge. Exactly what I wanted for Liberty. You can find instructions for this cast on in a number of books, but I think the best instructions can be found in Nancie Wiseman's The Knitter's Book of Finishing Techniques. Originally, when I bought this book, I thought it was a little basic. More and more, however, I find that it gives an easy to understand explanation for many complicated techniques that I have wanted to try.

Blog of the Day
Want to see two beautiful shawls and a very clever blocking board idea? Go take a look at Chery's blog. Absolutely gorgeous work! Everytime I see things like that I want to go knit through as much lace as I can find!

What's Next

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While I was busy being a little frustrated with the pink spongy sweater's neckline, I decided to soothe my frustrated finshing nerves with the promise of an exciting new beginning: a swatch for my next project. This was really actually a tough call. I have yarn for two projects that I am very excited about. The decision I made had more to do with my late night state of mind than anything else. For the lovely Phildar Chanel-inspired jacket, the only pattern I've got is in French. For Liberty, I've got a somewhat complicated Rowan pattern in English. I'd been trying to puzzle out what I needed to do for the Phildar swatch, but without a close-up picture, it was just too much of a challege for me. So while I'm waiting for a bona fide copy of the Phildar magazine containing the jacket (along with it's potentially useful English translation), Liberty gets the nod.

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The Liberty Swatch

This looks complicated, but it really isn't. It will mean a lot of weaving in of ends (and gnashing of teeth, no doubt), but otherwise it's pretty easy and quick to knit. (I never thought I would call knitting with DK weight yarn a quick knit, but compared to the Eponge, it's like lightening).

I really love these colors together. And I have no idea why. Normally, I avoid all these colors. However, somehow, when they are all combined together, the grey looks like pale blue to me, and the orange has more pink tones. It, of course, remains to be seen how it will look when I am wearing it, but I am helpful. I've been so jealous of my friends who can wear acid green and orange, I'm hoping that the way for me to carry them off is to combine them with a third color.

Another bonus? The Cashcotton DK and Cashsoft DK are nothing short of seductive to knit with. I mean hold the phone and just send my paycheck to the UK, this stuff is just incredible. I almost can't put it down. With just a partial swatch in my hands, I was already deciding what sweater out of ClassicCafe would be next. If I could only take two yarns with me to a desert island, it would probably be these. Especially if my desert island wasn't a tropical one.

The Blog of the Day
Today I wandered around the world to Melbourne, Australia to visit Lisa's Blog. I have to admit to a secret love for the Australian continent -- or at least what little I've seen of it (Sydney, Cairns, Port Douglas, the surrounding rain forest and the Great Barrier Reef), so I was pretty psyched to get mail from folks in the land down under. Lisa is, indeed, a Sock Monster as her blog name implies. Scroll down the page to see an impressive collection (my favorite are the little socks that match the Zebra jumper), especially compared against my paltry sock knitting output these days.

The Beginnings of Liberty

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My Next Project: Delightful Orange and Green

I'm simply not to be trusted with an whole Internet full of yarn around. Some would argue that I should have took it as a sign that Colourway did not seem to have the lovely orange Mandarin Cashsoft DK color in stock for several weeks after they had the books -- I should have seen it as a sign that the knitting gods wanted me to work with the stash I had. Instead, I actually emailed and on what would have been a Saturday evening for the folks at Colourway, they posted the yarn to their site so that I could place an order. How could I resist at that point?

The yarn is for Liberty, a wrap top with both stripes and texture. The colors are a little out on a limb for me: orange, apple green and grey aren't what I'd normally put together. But with all this orange and shreky green going around, I thought this might be a chance to get my fix. It almost doesn't seem like there's enough yarn to make a sweater that could wrap all the way around me (5 balls of the grey, 4 of the mandarin and 3 of the green), but this is probably just an optical illusion because the yardage on these balls is pretty robust -- somewhere around 130 m/ball.

If you haven't yet had the chance to interact with the Cashsoft or Cashcotton DK yarns yet, by all means run out and find some to pet! Very soft and lovely. I'm hoping the microfiber content in both yarns will make up for the general lack of durability to both merino wool and cashmere.

One thing that wasn't clear to me when I ordered the yarn for the project was that while the Cashsoft colors are solids, the Cashcotton colors (at least the Apple) are a bit tweedy. Here's a closeup for proof:

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Apple Cashcotton DK Close Up

Pretty lovely stuff if you ask me. I'm looking forward to finishing my pink Eponge pullover so that I can start on this project. I keep telling myself... only one major sweater project at a time.... only one major sweater project at a time -- especially when both projects I'm interested in are knit on slender needles.

If you want to see another project being worked in one of these yarns, be sure to peek in on Wendy's completed Deli sweater. It's also out of the Classics Cafe book and hers is absolutely gorgeous.

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