At some point in the latter stages of last year, I was browsing about on Ravelry and discovered Colourmart. Colourmart is a UK based company which buys leftover luxury yarn from knitwear companies (predominantly cashmere but also silk, merino, alpaca, a bit of cotton…) and sells them on to knitters on a retail basis.
Let me tell you that my jaw dropped open. The prices are incredibly good for what they’re selling, and the colours… oh the colours…!
I have just closed the browser firmly, not for the first time. I do not need more yarn. I repeat, I do not need more yarn.
Anyway, I decided to take the plunge and after a bit of consideration, splurged and treated myself to 300g-worth of 100% cashmere, in a dark charcoal fingering-weight (3/15NM). My aim is to reproduce a charcoal RTW cardigan that I loved dearly, went with everything, and that I left in a pub or bar somewhere about two years ago now.
The thing about Colourmart yarns, though, is that because their intended original use was machine knitting, they come oiled with machine-knitting lubricant. There is a relatively easy process for removing said oil, but it does make it all the more important to gauge-swatch.
Here is the dry swatch, 24 st. x 8 rows of stockinette on 3.5mm needles: measuring 3.75 in. x 1 in.
And here is the washed swatch, measuring… 3.75 in. x 1 in.! Apologies for the difference in lighting – I was feeling impatient and wanted to take the photo after it had got dark.
After extensive nervous reading on the internet, the swatch had the following things done to it:
- Soaked for c. 15 mins in hot water with normal Ecover washing-up liquid
- Rinsed in hot water
- Scattered liberally with bicarb of soda (well it works for bacon grease…) and then soaked and rinsed again
- Put through a machine wash on the 40° woollens cycle
- Allowed to dry flat
- Given a good steaming with the iron
- Allowed to dry again
The result is gorgeous. The knitted fabric is sooo soft and the yarn’s really fulled out – yet it feels incredibly light for its size. There’s a teeny tiny hint of biasing going on, but nothing to worry about, I don’t think.
The only slight pain in the backside is that it didn’t grow at all. 24 stitches was meant to give 4 inches across! I could swatch again on 3.75mm needles, but I’m very tempted to just multiply all horizontal numbers in the pattern by 1.07 (= 4 ÷ 3.75, if you were wondering) and carry on my merry way. I want to get knitting!