Monday, March 9, 2009

Love the yarn, hate the sweater

In the fairy tale "Rumpelstiltskin" the title character has the magical ability to spin straw into gold. Sometimes, a knitter can feel like she (or he) has turned gold into ...well, something much less desirable. In fact, in this case we're literally talking about gold: several skeins of Inca Gold yarn by Berroco. When Jeannie first saw this lovely, soft merino/silk yarn in the color "Terracota," she imagined a cozy Fall sweater in a richly ambiguous color that looks like a light brick orange with a pinkish cast. She sent the yarn off to be knitted into a simple cardigan shape and dreamed of curling up by the fire wrapped in her own personal sunset.

The sweater came back beautifully knitted, but as soon as Jeannie opened the box, she felt a crushing sense of disappointment. It just wasn't anything like what she had imagined when she fell in love with the yarn. The silk content made the finished sweater very soft and drapey, which might have been perfect for a lace shawl, but which didn't work well with the simple geometric shape of the cardigan. The color that was so beautiful on the skein looked blah when knitted up into large blocks of plain stockinette. It needed to be knitted with a contrasting color, or in a textured pattern that re-creates the play of light and dark that you can see in the un-knit skein.

This is not to disparage Inca Gold, which is a terrific yarn, but to point out that even the wisest knitters can make a mistake matching the yarn to the project. Blindfold Cupid has struck all of us with his arrows from time to time (in the yarn shop, we mean).

(By the way, not everyone agrees that the cardigan is a disaster.)

Tell us in the comments about your experiences with loving the yarn "not wisely but too well..."


  1. All hope is not lost - in my humble opinion.
    This may still become the cozy weekend fav. Not many sweaters look great on a hanger. I'd suggest getting that sweater on a live and curvy body and add accessories. I'll look for the "after" photos.

  2. Well, I'll suggest this to Jeannie. She seemed committed to donating the sweater to Good Will, however.

    You've got a good point though. I bet the right belt would do a lot to dress it up and add interest. How about some embroidered flowers in chocolate brown with silver beads??