Carbeth: Drifting Along

By Ann Shayne
February 6, 2018
A speedy sweater makes for a swell February

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23 Comments
  • Does your recommended skein amounts reflect the double stranding?

    • The skein amounts recommended in the Shibui Drift product listing assume single stranding.

  • I’m using knitpicks eco wool in “Wanda”. I did a corrugated ribbing because I had a small ball of another color that I love that I wanted to use up. I did add 2″ to the body length. Almost done with sleeve two. I love this sweater!

    • Corrugated ribbing is such a clever thing!

  • Confused here….as I *ahem* rarely swatch, preferring to leave it to the knitting goddess to guide my needles and hit gauge (which could be why I rarely knit anything bigger than socks, mitts or shawls) could you tell me if, after swatching and blocking, do you use that same yarn for knitting? If so, does that affect the final outcome when blocking again?

    • The knitting goddess! I call upon her daily, with mixed results!

      I can’t think of a time when I’ve re-used swatch yarn in a project. I guess if you were in a close call, where you weren’t sure you had enough yarn to finish a project, it would make sense to re-use it. I don’t think it would cause trouble to re-use yarn, in terms of having already washed and blocked it once, but maybe somebody else has more experience with this.

      One way around doing a swatch for a garment is to start a sleeve as your swatch. If you find you’re off gauge, it’s not a ton of knitting to undo and try again with a different needle.

      I’ve become a believer in swatching over the years, having blown enough sweaters due to my irrational exuberance and wild optimism. This Carbeth sweater in particular rewards swatching, because a 14 st/4″ gauge means a significant difference in size if you’re off even a half stitch.

      • I keep the swatch, then in our in perfect world it an accident ours I have the matching yarn to fix it….

      • I was a stitch per inch out and instead of a large sweater with lots of positive ease, I got one that fits my Mum. I swatched and got gauge first time but I swatched a square flat on my circular needle because I was in a hurry to start knitting . I should have started a sleeve. I am trying again with more wool from the stash. This time some special Aran weight from Shilasdair on Skye. It is indigo dyed over other natural dye and my hands were black after knitting with it. I had to scrub my hands to get it off. Tonight I am going to try my husband’s hand wipes for getting grease and oil off the mechanic’s hands and see if they work! I have actually started the sweater body……watch this space or you may hear my anguished howls all the way across the Atlantic if it goes wrong again!

    • I always reuse my swatch on the project – I can’t stand wasting yarn (and swatches seem that way to me). But I’m one of those crazy people who aims to use up every last yard in the stash. I just record the details of the swatch, unravel and use. I’ve never had an issue and I’ve done it hundreds of times. It does look crinkly and weird till you block the finished object, however, so don’t let that freak you out! What I would say is that you’ll have better luck if you knit with firm (but not tight), even tension. If you knit loosely, mind not to get too loose when working with the unravelled swatch. You can also wash the yarn to remove the kink before you use it but that’s unnecessary, in my experience. Also, consider the ratio of reused to unused yarn. If you’ve got proportionately much more unused to reused, in any given project, it’s a good ratio. The more even in quantity the 2 fibers are, in a project, the more you’ll want to consider the potential for an uneven outcome.

  • Really? That fast? Christmas presents! Done!

    • Pamela, I believe this sweater is knitting itself. Wacky fast.

  • Go, Ann, go! (You’ll be modeling this for us when — Friday?)

  • I’m guessing at this point the answer to this is “wait and see”, but knitting a merino-cashmere blend at a much looser gauge would make me awfully nervous about long term stability of the fabric (pilling, snagging, bagging, elbow wear, etc). Stopover gets away with the trick by using Icelandic wool, which has a famously long staple length and unusual stability (which is why it can be spun so loosely — or not at all! —and still knit up so sturdy). But merino and cashmere are about as far as you can get from Icelandic wool!

    Amy Herzog made a great video about assessing a swatch for fabric characteristics beyond gauge (and general “oooh pretty”-ness): https://youtu.be/4DT-tKthL-g
    How do these loose-gauge Drift swatches do in such tests?

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with deciding to “break the rules” (scare quotes because as is often discussed around here, there are no knitting police), but I do think it’s good to know the risks you’re taking, so you know if you might be knitting a pretty princess of a sweater who will need to be pampered and placated and treated just so.

    • My guess is that a merino/cashmere blend is going to pill whatever tension you knit it to; that’s the deal you make for knitting with soft yarn as opposed to gansey yarn which might not be soft but it’s hardwearing. I got a yarn order today and there’s some West Yorkshire Spinners Fusion aran weight yarn and it feels a bit rough, the antithesis of this yarn (not as bad as Lopi but it’s more in the Lopi direction than this yarn) – and my guess is it will be much more hardwearing than this yarn, albeit not as cushy. The yarn looks gorgeous though – and my favourite colour is purple! I don’t think this is available in the UK, probably just as well!

  • I adore the colour you have chosen for your Carbeth. And those photos from Kate Davies & Tom are just spectacular. I am so glad to be able to peek in on the lives of such talented, spirited people as yourselves. xo

  • I am planning on adding an inch to the body and i was thinking an inch and a half to the sleeves, since I, too, am long-armed (or, as they are called in my family, monkey arms — but I’m also the one who can reach the top shelf at the grocery store!). But after you said you were adding 3, I”m thinking of adding at least 2. I wish I had a clearer vision where the sleeves begin – or in other words, where the armpits are, as a starting point for measuring.

    I think I’ll take that question to The Lounge!

  • Wow, how timely! I did knit a swatch for a sweater I’m going to start, but decided not to wash or block it. It’s now soaking as I type! Thanks for the wise words!

  • I love this sweater and the yarn you chose is gorgeous. I’m wondering about the swatches though. It doesn’t look like you knit them in the round. Doesn’t that make a big difference in gauge? I’m a new-ish knitter so if someone tells me I don’t have to make round swatches that would be just fabulous, as far as I’m concerned!

    • Aw man I was hoping you wouldn’t notice! ; )

      Kate Davies says to work the gauge swatch in the round.

      I did not do this.

      I guess it’s like being told to eat leafy green vegetables: I can’t argue with that. But maybe I just don’t feeeeeeel like it.

      It is true that gauge can vary depending on whether you’re knitting flat or in the round—maybe you knit more tightly in the round, or looser.

      I don’t think I’ve ever knit a gauge swatch in the round, in my years of knitting. My sweaters seem to turn out at the correct gauge, or close enough that I’ve never thought: AW MAN my swatch should have been knit in the round!

      So (long answer to your short question): whether you knit a gaugee swatch in the round or flat depends on how much you value precision.

      • You told me what I wanted to hear, basically that I can do whatever I want! I need to be reminded of that every once in a while. Actually, I think I’ll do a swatch both ways, see if there’s much of a difference, and then decide from there. Thanks!

  • Trying to pay but won’t let me through! Help needed as usual!
    Pat [email protected] att.net

  • My sister now wants a Carbeth and after sending her many links of different yarns (possibly a mind-dizzying number of them), she wants it in Shibui Drift. I have a slight amount of trepidation about using worsted for this gauge, but Ann I have faith in you and your beautiful sweater!

  • Beautiful yarn!