Back in November of last year, I blogged about my slow progress with the mis-named "Haven" cardigan from Rowan's Denim People pattern book. As much as I anticipate that the finished garment will provide all the cozy comfort implied in its name, the journey to completion has had its challenges, which I hadn't expected since I have often had easy-peasy experiences following Kim Hargreaves's patterns. But procrastination wasn't going to make any of my issues go away, so after I decided to focus on crossing UFO's off my list this year, my first order of business was to see "Haven" through. For the past few weeks, I have spent the lion's share of my knitting hours pushing through. And here's one proof:
Scrubbing the palms of both hands has become a new nighttime ritual. The denim pigment doesn't affect the couch I knit on or the clothes I am wearing, only surfaces that it rubs against, namely my palms and fingers and the wooden double-pointed needle that I have been using for the cables. I am knitting the cardigan on an Addi Lace needle which doesn't seem the worse for wear at this point.
Patterns written specifically for denim cotton yarn anticipate a significant rate of shrinking, lengthwise, which means that every part of this sweater has to be extra long to start with. This includes not just the body length but the armholes as well. Everything goes on for a loooong time before the knitter reaches, say, armhole decreases. And then there were a few dumb mistakes along the way, all my fault, not Kim H's, such as my failure to read directions and to remember to reverse the direction of the cable crossing on the second front side. I ended up with two parallel fronts instead of having one mirror the other.
I knew this would never cease to bother me, so yes, I frogged down to the very bottom cable crossing and re-knit that side. Then it was off to the sleeves. Meanwhile, I decided to give the body pieces, front and back, their first trip to the washing-machine. I just couldn't wait to see the denim cotton yarn do its fading magic.
For comparison: on the left, the right front of the cardi, machine-washed and dried, and shrunk to its final size. To the left, the first sleeve, finished but still unwashed and unshrunk.
Closer up, you can see the flecks of white peeking through the heavily pigmented cotton. You can also notice the shrinking in the final size of the cables on the left. The feel of the knitted fabric has changed as much as its visual appearance; it feels tighter, a bit warmer and much more substantial.
Knitting with cotton yarn is a bit hard on my wrists, which is one reason why I gave myself a couple of days' break cranking out those wool baby socks, but now I am ready to finish the second sleeve. My plan is to launder the sleeves before sewing them to the body, and then tackle the collar. I have a feeling this will be an eminently wearable garment once I am done making it, and I am reasonably confident that it won't be turning my hands blue anymore. I may even miss the nightly scrubbing.