I do cast off sometimes, you know: Tempest cardigan

Back when I started this blog, I promised that there would be knitting and plenty of it. Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that I haven’t really delivered on this. To explain myself, I swear that it isn’t that I haven’t been knitting (I’ve been wielding those pointy sticks rather a lot), but rather that I haven’t been finishing any knitting. I’ve cast on plenty of things, and I’ve knitted like a demon when I’ve had the chance. It’s just that I have the attention span of a yarn-obsessed goldfish: I invariably get bored half-way through a pattern repeat and wander off in search of something newer and shinier, while the works in progress pile up reprovingly behind the sofa.

My startitis must now be the stuff of legend. A friend recently commented on my Ravelry project page, “you don’t finish very much, do you?”, while another smiled indulgently as I outlined my future knitting plans, and then suggested that they might take a bit of time to complete, given my current progress. I may not be the world’s fastest knitter (I’m no Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, that’s for sure), but I could keep up a pretty respectable output if it weren’t for all the distractions. The garden, the kitchen, the sewing machine, other knitting projects: they all exert their siren call on me, no matter how good I am trying to be about finishing that pair of socks I started two summers ago, and which still consist of one solitary ankle-cuff. You don’t need to reproach me about this: the UFOs do that all by themselves. I can feel their little wooly minds boring into mine through the sofa cushions as I sit watching terrible comedy on E4 and casting on yet another shawl.

Photograph by Stephen Lynch

Sometimes, though, I do manage to get to the end. I cast off, seam, block, and proudly change my project’s Ravelry status to “finished”. I’m happy to report that I have just managed to get to this stage with a cardigan which I originally started in the wake of Knit Nation, pretty much a year ago now. It’s Ann Weaver’s Tempest, knitted in a combination of Old Maiden Aunt merino superwash 4ply (colourway: Baobhan Sith*) and Wollemeise merino superwash 4ply (colourway: Maus Jung). If you’re on Ravelry, you can find my notes here. If you’re not on Ravelry, and you have an interest in things of a yarny nature, get yourself over there forthwith: it’s really a marvellous place. Here I am, anyway, modelling my Tempest in the garden yesterday, and staring fixedly at some Japanese anemones while trying my hardest not to look at the camera.

It’s a lovely design, well written with interesting and thoughtful details. The sewn hem, the interplay of the waist-shaping with the narrowing of the stripe pattern, the placement of the buttonholes: all the elements are well thought out and add up to a garment which, though it looks simple, is both interesting to knit and stylish to wear. I’d be keen to knit this again, as I’m very happy with the way it turned out, but I think next time I would make the next size up: the garment is intended to be worn with negative ease, but I do feel it is a tiny bit on the snug side (obviously this is not so much the fault of the instructions as it is of my congenital inability to refuse cake when it is offered).

The yarns were both rather decadent purchases, and I was determined that I was going to use them for an actual garment this time. Not a shawl, not a pair of socks, not an accessory of any kind. A full-sized, honest-to-goodness top in which I would be willing to be seen in public. I was so concerned about getting things to work out properly that I even swatched, which, as any knitter who knows me personally can attest, is a rare thing indeed. I already had the Wollmeise in my stash when I bought the Old Maiden Aunt yarn from the splendidly be-kilted Lilith at Knit Nation, but I was confident that the pewter-ish Maus Jung would set off the sombre red-brown of the Baobhan Sith well. Indeed, it does seem to have turned out rather nicely: Lilith’s yarn has a black/grey element alongside the predominant red and brown: this ties in nicely with the variegated grey of the Wollmeise. The colours of both yarns are gorgeous, and, although I’m unlikely to get my hands on more Wollmeise any time soon, I’m going to be haunting the Old Maiden Aunt website for materials for future projects.

I found the buttons in Claire Grove Buttons in Cardiff, a veritable Aladdin’s cave of buttony goodness, which really deserves a post in its own right to do justice to the delights on offer. After a rigorous search of the packed shelves, I settled on these pewter-ish metal ones with a domed top and shank: as I needed twenty of them, I not only had to be rather careful about the price of each button, but also their combined weight on the button band. I couldn’t face using plastic ones, given the quality of the yarn involved in the project, so the left button band is now somewhat weighter than the right, but I’m really happy the overall effect.

Having cast my Tempest off, I’m now diving happily into an o w l s jumper, made from the classic pattern by Kate Davies. I’ve been hankering after one of these since I knitted an Owlet (the baby/child version of this pattern) for Eoin last winter. As I’m using a bulky yarn, and I’m already half-way up the body, I’m hoping that I’ll manage to finish a little quicker this time. We’ll see…

*It’s pronounced “bah-van shee”, in case you’re wondering, and it’s the Gaelic name for a female vampire in Scottish mythology.

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5 thoughts on “I do cast off sometimes, you know: Tempest cardigan

  1. Yay! It looks beautiful, and has shaped so well after blocking and finishing. I love the buttons, and think I recall purchasing, if not the same then very similar ones, from Claire Grove too. I’m very impressed that you’ve cast on and even got some way with o w l s 🙂

    • Shh… don’t tell the knitting police, but I haven’t actually blocked it! I’m working on the assumption that it will basically block on me as I wear it. That, and I’m too lazy! I’m so relieved that it fits: I know we both had misgivings 🙂

  2. Pingback: Crafty Cardiff: Claire Grove Buttons | Biographia Domestica

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