Ennea Collective has just release their winter issue, and guess who’s on the front cover!


That’s my Icicles Cardigan – a simple, fitted sweater designed to feature handspun yarn in a full sized garment. Icicles was my knitting retreat during the flooding and aftermath from tropical storm Irene last September. I’m really excited that it’s finally live for everyone to see! (and to favorite/queue on Ravelry)


I spun this yarn without knowing what it would become. When I finished the yarn and discovered I had over 350 yards I knew I wanted to work it into a garment. I really love sweaters which allow a spinner to wear their handspun without having to spin 1000-1400 yards. Spinning that much is a major time investment. But I made this skein of yarn with two different 4oz hunks of fiber*. They were both Ashland merino silk: one in dark blue, one in light blue. I spun each separately and plied them together into a subtly marled skein.


The fiber and the buttons were both purchased at Rhinebeck 2010 – oddly I didn’t know they were destined to be together until after I decided the main yarn for this sweater would be white. Actually I knew I wanted a blueish white, and I knew Quince & Co had the perfect shade in their Frost colorway. Then I started to think about buttons and realized that these would be just perfect.


The dark blue in the yoke and the white of the body are balanced and trimmed by more of the handspun in the icord edging. I know some people dislike icord trim, but I really enjoyed the process. It makes such a neat and stable bound off edge, and it’s not that much more work than any of your other standard bind offs. The buttonholes are worked very simply by NOT applying the applied icord edge up the front This creates little loops of icord through which you button the buttons. So if you wanted more buttons, smaller buttons, etc… That would be a really easy change.

If you aren’t a spinner I could see using the pattern to show off a special commercial yarn. Any standard worsted weight yarn will fit the pattern. You could feature something more expensive, or a bright color that you love but don’t want to use for a whole garment.

The trickiest bit of the whole pattern is the stranding in the yoke. I didn’t want to use a steek because A) I wouldn’t be able to hide the loose edges in the button band I wanted to use and B) lots of knitters don’t like cutting their knitting. So instead you have to purl back with 2 colors. But it’s only for a few rows and it really wasn’t that tricky after all.


As you can also see in that photo I’ve reinforced the neckline with a single crochet chain. This sweater is worked seamlessly from the top down; which is great for quick, satisfying knitting. However I find the yoke holds it’s shape much more nicely with that neckline reinforced.


The photo shoot was held at the Northern VT Llama Co – a great farm that’s just up the road from where I live. I love going there to get my Christmas tree. Wandering around the farm in the snow with carols playing, people choosing trees, drinking hot cider, watching the yearlings frolic in their first snow… It’s a great way to set the mood for the Christmas season.

*and just about every spinner has 2 different 4oz hunks of fiber in their stash!


3 responses to “Icicles

  1. I loved this from the minute Lori forwarded me the swatch/sketch of it! It’s a fantastic marriage of handspun and commercial yarns – I could see it in a ton of different options.

    • I love the challenge of designing with handspun because there’s so much variation from person to person, and even from skein to skein all by the same spinner!

      I’m glad you think this sweater is versatile, that’s exactly the goal I had in mind :-D

  2. This is lovely! I’ve just bought a spinning wheel (I’ve had a drop spindle for ages, and the wheel has been a dream since I was ten years old!) so maybe now I will be able to supply handspun to try this. The collar is great and I love the i-cord trim. (I always feel like i-cord ought to be an Apple product… you know, iPod, iTunes, iCord… ;-p )

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