Did someone say the c word?

No, not that word!

The c word I’m talking about is cashmere. Mmmmm casssshhhhhhhmere.

The reason I mention cashmere is a very exciting one (as if you need a reason). Remember a few weeks ago I mentioned the giveaway organised by Serendipity in support of the Victorian bushfire fundraising? She organise a huge range of prize donations, which resulted in over $20,000 donated to the Red Cross appeal – a fantastic result!

I was most excited when she contacted me after the prize drawings to advise I was one of the lucky prize winners – I won the Colourmart cashmere prize! Woo hoo, I thought, as I headed over to the Colourmart site (go on, you know you want to as well … just finish reading this first, m’kay!). Then I thought, oh, maybe I’d better see exactly what I’ve won, as they’ve got such a huge range. So I checked back on Serendipity and read that it was a kilo of cashmere. Let me just say that again, so you can be sure: A KILO OF CASHMERE. I thought, no, it must be a mistake, it must be just a cone (their cones are 150g – so when I say “just” a cone, I mean, OMG a cone would be so great!).

So I thought I’d wait until Colourmart got in touch with me before I got carried away with choosing. And when the email came from Richard, confirming it was A KILO and that he’d be happy to send me some samples to help me choose whatever colours and weights of yarn I wanted from their stock, I still could hardly believe it. Thank you SO MUCH Colourmart!

After much reading on their site and on the Ravelry Colourmart group, I received my requested samples last week – enough to knit a small swatch of each. From top to bottom, you can see 2/14 (light fingering or 4ply), 6/28 (fingering or 4ply, but with 6 plies of yarn), heavy laceweight 3/28(3ply), laceweight 2/28 (2ply). I wanted to try the fingering weights as I thought a lightweight cassssshhhhhhhhmere cardigan would be lovely, and the laceweights because, um hello, do I even have to explain why??!

So I set to knitting my swatches – both of the laceweights in the twig pattern from Nancy Bush’s Lace Knitting in Estonia, using 3.25mm sticks, and the fingering weights in a basketweavey pattern using 2.75mm sticks (I’ll explain why in a minute).

Here’s the laceweights, pre-blocking:


And post-blocking:

I found the blue heavy laceweight slightly easier to knit with, but I think the yellow finer laceweight looks better when blocked. But I think the heavy LW could be knit with bigger sticks too. Both are lovely I think! A cone of each, check!

And here’s the fingering weights, pre-blocking:

And post-blocking:

The red (which is the 2/14) has a lovely drape, at this gauge I think the brown (6/28) is a bit too stiff. And here’s the reason why I knit these swatches using 2.75mm sticks:

I LOVE this cardigan (Fontaine from Rowan 44). And only partly because I would so love to swan around in it with a feathered turban style hat, a tweedy cravat and suede gloves, and of course my flared skirt and voluminous petticoats. But of course, here’s the downside – this cardi is knit using 2.75mm sticks at a gauge of 35 st and 44 rows over 10cm (4″). Neither of which I could get with either of the cashmere yarns (red swatch – 32 st x 46 rows, brown 30 st x 44 rows). So my dilemma is whether to get enough of the 2/14 (which had lovely drape) to make this cardigan, and worry about the gauge/maths later, or do I go for something else entirely? Should I get a range of weights and make lovely lacy shawls and scarves and other smaller items? Oh the agony of choice! How lucky am I!

The other relevant factor in all this is that the yarns are primarily designed to be used for machine knit garments – and so in addition to coming on cones with incredible yardage, they are also oiled. It is recommended that if you are knitting a garment or anything where size is important, that you wash the yarn before knitting with it (most people use Dawn detergent – I don’t know what the equivalent is to this in Australia – or shampoo). It also means skeining it off the cone in order to wash it as well. For shawls etc, this is not so important, and many people don’t do it. I didn’t wash my mini-skeins before swatching, and the yarn was fine (it doesn’t feel or smell oily) and it bloomed wonderfully on washing. But if I’m going to do a cardigan, that is a bit of extra work – not that I’m complaining – but it’s good to know I have to be prepared!!

What do you think? Should I get enough for this (or another) cardi? What would you do? Oh, and don’t forget to go and have a look, and maybe buy some of their yarn (they also sell silk, merino, alpaca and blends) if you are so tempted – such a generous prize deserves lots of rewards!

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23 Comments

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23 responses to “Did someone say the c word?

  1. I’m gonna vote for a cardigan in the fingering weight. I have longed for a cashmere cardigan ever since I read that those cardigans of Nigella’s are all cashmere….sigh.But the little lace swatches are lovely and awfully tempting.I’m on the site now, don’t you worry!

  2. Decisions. Decisions. Decisions.(Lucky you)That’s an interesting detail au derriere du jacket.Unfortunately, even when I get gauge in a swatch, my actual knitting tension seems to be different, so I’m no help at all.Love the buttery yellow laceweight.haha verify is ‘slyrip’ – that would be me drooling over the thought of a kilo of cashmere. Not that I’ve actually started on the half kilo I bought last year.

  3. You have Rowan 44! I was too slow. I say yes, that cardigan and the red is so pretty and …. you’d be able to work out the math eventually, right?

  4. Get bucket loads – go – get the cardi cash and some lace weight and some 4 ply and lots of colours -and then roll in it!

  5. Jan

    A kilo of cashmere! Just a minute while I dig out and pet the little bit of cashmere I have left on a cone from two stoles. Drool, drool. I love the yellow laceweight but the blocked teal blue looks so good too. The again, a cardi would be a luxury. There are some lovely patterns around now.I think I might go with the fingering for a cardigan but a kilo should give you some choice of a second weight.

  6. *drooooooooooool*What Ceri said.

  7. I’m all agog at the 1 kilo of cashmere!!! The lady in the cardi looks very ‘Secret Army’ or maybe even ‘Allo, ‘Allo!!

  8. what an awesome prize?!love the cardigan, and it will look smashing in the red. The lace swatches look very pretty too, both colours are lovely, but for mine, it’s the cardigan all the way 🙂

  9. lilypily

    I say get enough for the cardi. 🙂 I also say, well won and congratulations. You lucky thing you. Enjoy.

  10. Wow! I’m going to have to think about all this before weighing in. BUT, I did want to say that a friend of mine stumbled upon Colourmart at some point a couple of years ago, and can’t say enough good things about them or their yarn. She’s only made smaller items, though, so the oil issue didn’t matter. Wow, though! Congrats on your great prize!

  11. All I can say is WOW! I’m so jealous, but the choices, it would be so hard to figure out what to do. I like the cardigan you’re thinking of, it’s a great pattern, and your lace samples look fantastic too. If you can manage to work out a combo to cover all your ideas then go for it I say!! Congratulations.

  12. Go for the cardigan’s worth of cashmere I say – the odd shawl’s worth will be easier to justify buying yourself in the future – I’m sure you can make the maths work for that lovely pattern :o) Or find another – and then you’ll have a cashmere cardigan – delicious!

  13. Oh, good heavens! ‘scuse me, gotta mop the drool off the keyboard… OK, all better. Cardigan cardigan cardigan!

  14. A whole KILO of cashmere – my brain will be greenly envying you all day! Wow! Can I rub your blog for luck?

  15. Lin

    Its got to be the cardigan I think. I am not going to look at their yarns, its too dangerous!!

  16. I couldn’t even begin to advise you about what to do with a kilo of cashmere – but it couldn’t have one to a better home. Enjoy your agonising over the decision-making.

  17. kim

    Are you the luckiest gal in the world, or what?! A KILO?!!!! Congratulations!!! Also, it’s good to know that it fulls out after washing. I bought a cone and was thinking it was hopelessly thin for sport weight…

  18. Oh my goodness me !!! Can you spell jealous.Good luck with your decision making. I think a cashmere cardy would be just wonderful (although I’m not sure I’d like to knit at that gauge lol) – I’d buy now and figure out the math later :)Your photos are such a great argument for why you should block!

  19. Ann

    You are so lucky to be having this problem of deciding what to buy. I love cashmere too & it will be lovely to have a cashmere cardigan !

  20. Don’t look at me for suggestions – all you will find over my way is a big fat sulky pout. 😉

  21. I agree with Sarah. Go for the sweater’s worth. It’ll be so much easier to justify a shawl’s worth if you want to buy it in the future. But a whole cardigan worth of cashmere…….What a great prize.Congrats!

  22. get enough for a cardi. worry about the math later. knit the cardi on 2.75mms and you’ll wear it well into your 90’s. i guarantee it. i have a colormart order waiting to be indigo dyed. their stuff is amazing. nice swatches btw.

  23. Wow – the thought of so much cashmere makes my knees go a bit wobbly! I adore that cardigan too, but wasn’t up for the tiny needles at the time. So I’m no use at all when it comes to giving an opinion on the yarns – they all look wonderful! Can’t wait to see which you plump for…

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