Swatching Cashmere

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.

dry swatch

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.

washed swatch

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!

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