What To Do?

What in the world does a knitter do with sixteen balls of bulky weight Merino yarn? That is the question I have been trying to answer for quite a while now.

I’m not a fan of bulky yarn. I am not in love with knitting bulky yarn, nor am I in love with the huge needles knitting with bulky yarn requires. Although bulky yarn usually looks good when knitted up, items knitted in bulky yarn are generally not wearable indoors because they are so darned warm. But bulky yarn is great for outerwear in very cold climates. I have a round-yoke sweater knitted from Reynolds Lopi, and in the winter I can just pull it on over a long-sleeved turtleneck and, with the addition of a hat and gloves, be quite comfortable walking in the cold, even if it is windy. But I wouldn’t last five minutes indoors before having to take the sweater off.

Given my general dislike of bulky yarn, how in the name of the knitting gods did I come to possess 16 balls of Karabella Aurora Bulky Merino?  It all began with a visit from Cousin Vickie. Vickie had been knitting for a while and wanted to do something more challenging than a scarf. So she went to her LYS and got hooked up with this yarn and  sweater pattern.

A very pretty sweater, but not practical for bulky yarn

A very pretty sweater, but not practical for bulky yarn


She got started on the sweater and brought the project along on her visit. I was horrified to see that her LYS had foisted this yarn and pattern on her. Oh, don’t get me wrong. The yarn is wonderful. It has 14 plies of the softest Merino one can imagine, and the yarn is the roundest yarn I have ever seen. The sweater is a lovely combination of a gigantic center cable and lace, with lovely set-in sleeves and a pretty neckline that flows from the center cable. It’s a beautiful design. Really, it is. But think about it. This sweater is definitely not meant to be outerwear. And although the yarn is  next-to-the-skin soft, the sweater would have to be worn over a camisole because of the holes in the lace pattern.

A bulky weight sweater over a camisole is not a match made in heaven for indoor wear. I knew that if Vickie completed this sweater, she would never be able to wear it, not even in the cold climes near Lake Erie where she lives. I seriously wondered what the LYS owner was thinking. But I didn’t say anything to Vickie. She loved the yarn, especially because it was in her favorite color, and she loved the look of the sweater, and who am I to burst her bubble anyway?

Fast forward a couple of weeks. Carpal tunnel syndrome. Need I say anything else? No more knitting for Vickie, so she packs up the yarn and pattern and sends them to me with instructions that I am to use the yarn for anything I wish and that I absolutely should not feel obligated to use it to knit something for her. So the yarn goes into my stash, and I start an on-again, off-again search for a pattern that is a good match for the yarn. I wanted to knit a cardigan for Vickie that she could easily put on and take off as the temperature dictated, but I was limited by the amount of yarn I had. I found several possibilities on Ravelry, and finally settled on this plain and simple, but nicely tailored Selvedge Cardigan.

A more practical design for bulky yarn

A more practical design for bulky yarn

The cardigan is knitted from the bottom up and starts with a yarn-over tubular cast-on. I’ve done tubular cast-ons before, but this is my first time to do the yarn-over version. You start with a provisional cast-on using waste yarn, cast on half the number of stitches you need for the cast on (plus one if you have an odd number), then with the working yarn, *K1, YO to the end, ending with K1. Then you proceed as you would for any other tubular cast-on. My first go round was not satisfactory. The bottom edge was sloppy and uneven. So I ripped it out and redid it on a smaller needle (10.5 instead of 11) with excellent results.

Beautiful edge of the tubular cast-on

Beautiful edge of the tubular cast-on

I’ve made good progress on the sweater,

Selvedge Cardigan progress

Selvedge Cardigan progress

but I feel like a beginning knitter. Look at how uneven the stitches are.

Messy uneven stitches

Messy uneven stitches

I sure hope that washing and blocking will help even them out.

I plan to have this sweater finished by the end of the month. With the start-up of the hockey season nearing–thank you, federal mediator, for forcing the two sides back into face-to-face negotiations–I’ll be doing a lot of knitting. LET’S GO PENS!!!!


4 thoughts on “What To Do?

  1. that LYS sounds kind of weird … :/ I mean, I don’t know how long »for a while« is, but that sweater seems quite complicated to me – and surely the pattern STATES the kind of yarn that is to be used?

    I like your choice for it a lot. But I am a sucker for simple, yet intriguing things. 😉

    • Thanks, Julia. Simple, yet intriguing is exactly the phrase I was looking for. Thanks for giving me the exact words I need. 🙂

      I think Vickie could have handled the “fancy” sweater. It would have been a bit of a challenge for her, but one she was ready for. I think some LYS owners steer newer knitters toward bulky yarn projects because there’s this idea that a project has to be completed quickly or the knitter will get bored or frustrated or otherwise give up.

      • Oooh, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to correct you!!!!! Woah, sorry … I just saw that rereading your post. I didn’t mean to mock you!

        I wish I would be far enough to handle a sweater … Although my problem is more that the moment I start to swatch for one, my head goes: ›WOAH this is going to be HARD and IMPORTANT and you mustn’t make ANY mistakes!‹ And then I …. yeah … you know. 😉

      • I’m a bit confused. I didn’t think you were in any way mocking me or correcting me.

        Sweaters are not necessarily difficult projects. I knitted my first sweater when I was 12 years old, a simple stocking stitch cardigan with set-in sleeves, knitted in pieces and sewn together. It never occurred to me that it might be hard to do. LOL

        I’d recommend starting with a simple raglan in worsted-weight yarn, knitted in the round either top-down or bottom up. There’s a minimum of shaping and raglans look good on almost every body type. You WILL make mistakes, but mistakes can be corrected or become design elements. 🙂 It’s no harder than knitting a sock.

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