Yarn For The Gathered Pullover: What I Chose and Why

Before we begin, it turns out I have an apology to make. Y'all don't mind holding on for a sec, do you?

Dear Silkworms,

I am so sorry that I offended you by calling you bugs, or even worms. You are animals, full and respectable members of the animal kingdom, and if my words caused you harm, I sincerely apologise. I hope that we can put this ugly misunderstanding behind us, and that, when I hold your lovely dried spit–er, hardened extrusions–in my hands, that you and your ancestral spirits will look kindly upon me and guide my knitting, so that my work will do honor to you and all of animalkind.

There. Whew. I had visions of silkworms dancing all around my bed, with little signs, chanting, "Animal Rights For Bugs! Animal Rights For Bugs!"

I needed to make amends, you see, because I am going to talk about the yarn I chose to make the Gathered Pullover, which is part silk. (Good to appease the silkworm union before I venture into touching their extrusions. If you know what I mean.)

But let me start at the beginning.

Hana Jason's Gathered Pullover

Today, I'm going to walk you through how I chose the yarn for my Gathered Pullover, because maybe I chose the right yarn…and maybe I didn't.

The original yarn specified for this pattern is the always-lovely Brown Sheep Top of the Lamb. I own so much Brown Sheep yarn that I think the warehouse has me on speed-send. ("Back up the truck to the driveway, folks…just back 'er in!")

But as I have discovered from past sweater adventures, my skin does not adore this yarn as much as I adore it. Like many wool yarns, it is a bit on the prickly side. This "prickly factor" is common to many wools-from-sheep, depending on the breed, the way the yarn is spun, and probably the phase of the moon. The prickles are due to short fibers within the wool itself, fibers that stick out of the yarn. Some of these fibers might be slightly thicker fibers than the main wool, some might just be the main wool being unruly. Different breeds have different amounts of Prickle Factor, and different spinning and processing methods alleviate this Prickle Factor to some degree.

And some folks do not even feel the Prickle Factor.

The Gathered Pullover is meant to be worn fairly close-fitting; I would want to wear it next to my skin. Thus: Prickle Bad. So, I needed to walk away from the lovely Brown Sheep, and choose something different.

What are the special needs of this sweater in terms of yarn?

The Gathered Pullover is drapey, so the yarn cannot be too stiff. (Part of this drape is achieved via a rather large gauge, but still, the yarn must cooperate.) The most noticeable feature of the pullover is the central cable…and now we have a challenge. We have to find a non-stiff yarn which will also accommodate a cable.

What yarn is best for cables?

Well, what exactly is a cable? A cable is a structural, almost sculptural element in the fabric, where the two-dimensional fabric is built up upon itself, via twisting and overlapping stitches, in order to create a three-dimensional effect. One important element of the yarn is The Grab Factor: in order to hold the shape of the cables, the yarn has to grab on to itself a bit. If the yarn is too slippery, the cables will just sink out of sight, pulled by the weight of the yarn into oblivion. If the yarn is too stiff, well, again: we need a bit of drape here.

If you look at the royalty of cabled sweaters, the Arans, they are made out of very "sticky" wool—the yarn definitely has the ability to grab on to itself and hold the intricate shapes of the cables. We learned in the last post that wool has lots of little scales running along the fiber; these scales, even when closed, give the wool just a little roughness, just enough texture to not slide around too much. In traditional Aran wools, there is also quite a bit of lanolin left in the yarn, which helps the grab factor.

However, for this sweater, Aran wools are not want I want. I want something a little grabby, but smooth to the skin. I also need drape. I also need….purple.

What alternatives to 100% wool could I find?

Cotton was out–it has no memory, thus is way too stretchy. 100% silk was out, because I am on a budget. But silk…I like silk. Hm. What about a silk blend? Silk and wool together. Silk for the drape and sheen, wool for the grabbiness needed to hold the cable together. So I wander around my LYS until I come up with Crystal Palace Creme, which is 60% Merino and 40% silk. (Sadly, this yarn has now been discontinued.) I knit a swatch, and the cable seems to hold, the fabric feels good against my skin, and the purple is gorgeous.

And so the knitting began. Yes, I swatched until I wanted to scream, switching needle sizes (and materials–I got more accurate gauge on my size 9 wood needles than on my size 9 metal needles!) until I got exactly the fabric I wanted. It is true that I knit it in the 44.75" size, and before I even got to the sleeves, I had lost enough weight so that I will have to go down a size in order to make the sweater look right. But: What do you think of my yarn choice, given the cables and the drape? What would you have chosen, and why? Let us know what you think!

Sandi Wiseheart is the editor of Knitting Daily.

What's on Sandi's needles? Laceweight alpaca/silk, and on another set of needles, lovely tan worsted wool-from-sheep, and on another set, silk/merino DK.

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143 thoughts on “Yarn For The Gathered Pullover: What I Chose and Why

  1. I am in the midst of knitting the Gathered Pullover and I chose to use Mister Joe Blanket as it is super soft – no prickles there (a big factor for me) and it fit the bill for draping nicely and yet holding the cables! So far so good! I’ve only the sleeves left to do!

  2. what about bamboo? there are some lovely,soft, silky yarns out there, and it takes color gorgeously…
    I haven’t used it myself yet, but am dying to try it(no pun intended!)…

  3. I love this pattern! I bought a lovely cherry red merino wool for mine! It’s a tad softer, but still has that wooliness that the “drape” requires!

  4. Great choice; I think you’re goin’ like it:) Congrats on the weight loss! A worthwhile reason for doing a little frogging! Substituting yarn is the hardest part of starting a new project for me. I really appreciate you delving into this topic and sharing your knowledge. I’m working on a shrug and chose a cotton, rayon, linen blend. It’s knit using two strands and seems a little stiff, but I’m going to trudge ahead and see what the finished result reveals itself to be. I wish patterns would give the weight of the yarn used instead of just the brand. The shrug pattern is knit on size 10 1/2 needles using a worsted weight; that’s where the two strands come into play. Good thing the web is out there to research yarn brands! I look forward to your daily post!

  5. Thank-you for this column. I want to make the GP, but was not wanting itchy wool. Please post the suggestions for yarn that is not discontinued and easy to locate. Thanks!

  6. I wanted to make the same sweater and have the same “ichyness” concerns. I have been trying to find something to substitute but didn’t know what to look for. I like the yarn you have chosen and the info you gave about how to choose a substitute. Nancy

  7. I probably would have also gone for a blend for this pattern. I’m too broke to afford pure silk or something equally decadent, but I can afford a blend of that and wool 🙂

  8. I’ve found a wonderful alternative to woolen /wool-blend yarns in Knit Pick’s Andean Silk (alpaca, silk & merino blend) This is a worsted weight fiber & so would substitute in SO many patterns. I just completed a sweater that is extremely comfortable to wear against the skin, knit up like a dream & shows off the cable pattern as well as the stockinette stitches. Nice drape too using a #9 needle.

  9. I am starting this now with some handspun I have. I truly didn’t want to knit this with sport weight yarn at 19 stitches to 4 inches – I was afraid the fabric would be too open and it would sag and pill like mad. I was validated by browsing Ravelry and seeing how many people knitted it with Cascade 220! My handspun is closer to DK weight so I went up a size hoping for a good fit. I’m now doing the body as a huge swatch…

  10. I, too, have a problem with wool and have experimented with blends. I don’t know what your gauge is, but I’ve been using two yarns that are very nice. One is elsebeth lavold’s Silky Wool (65 wool, 35 silk – fabulous!) and the other is Moda Dea (actually Coats and Clark) – 45 wool, 55 rayon from bamboo).

    Good luck!
    Ann – Lancaster, PA

  11. Hi Sandi,
    I would have used Sirdar “Breeze”….it’s a cotton acrylic blend but it takes to cables extremely well. I made myself a sweater out of it that had cables similar to the gathered sweater down the front and back and it came out wonderful! “Breeze” has just enough stretch that it does not stretch out of shape and it’s very comfortable. I tend to like cottons because they’re cooler for wearing inside but “Breeze” wasn’t hard on my hands the way 100% cotton can be.

  12. I used Brown Wool’s Naturespun Sport Weight–all wool and perhaps a bit prickly, but so lovely (and reasonably priced) that I couldn’t resist. I wear the Gathered Pullover with a t-shirt underneath it anyway (because of the somewhat low and wide neckline) so the “prickly” aspect isn’t a factor.

  13. Sounds like a great choice of yarn! I’m also very interested to see your finished sweater — I’m built much more like you than like the model for this design, and although I love it I have been nervous about knitting it. Your blow-by-blow knitting descriptions are extremely helpful!

  14. Hello Dear Friends at Knitting Daily!

    I am also planning on making this sweater, but am still deciding on which yarn to use. For me, there are several criteria in choosing yarn for a project.

    #1: Cost effectiveness! Yes, it’s true. It can be very pricey knitting up a project, so one thing that is important to me is that the things I knit be gentle on my pocketbook.

    #2: They must be silk-free, because as a vegan, I have to really think about my choices regarding animal-content. I long ago decided to continue wearing wool, because I live in Canada and it is very very cold here, and merino and alpaca wools are winter necessities for me. I decided to continue wearing wool, because the animals in question are not killed for their wool–they are just given a haircut 🙂 Silk, on the other hand, is made by steaming or gassing the poor little silk-wormies alive at the pupae stage(FYI: Approximately 3,000 silkworms die to make every pound of silk). Not to put a damper or hold judgement on you folks who choose to use silk, I am just saying that for my lifestyle, it is not an option. Too bad, because it is GOOOOORGEOUS 🙂

    #3: Washability! That speaks for itself, really. I like my clothes to be easy to wash on my home washer.

    So, to make a long story short, I am thinking about using either Paton?s Decor Yarn, or their Classic Merino. Both are cheap cheap cheap, knit up beautifully in many gorgeous shades (and work very well with cable-knitting) and wash extremely well in the machine, especially the Decor yarn, which is 25% merino, 75% acrylic. And also, the Decor yarn is super soft (no woolly prickles, feels lovely next to the skin, very warm) and drapey, but has lots of ?grab? and holds its shape beautifully. It has a lovely sheen to it that is so luxurious for such a cheap yarn! If any of you want to try this yarn, I would recommend it. I am going to swatch it up before using it, of course. Wish me luck! And thanks for listening! xo McKinley.

  15. I think your choice looks great. I’d probably use Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool since I have scads of it in my stash and it’s pretty much made for cables.

  16. I was wondering about your comment on choosing the right yarn – maybe you did, and maybe you didn’t. Did you have any reasons for the “maybe you didn’t”?

  17. Hi – just wanted to pass on something a friend told me about reducing the “prickle factor”. It may be well known but it was news to me. She rinses her sweaters in hair conditioner designed to calm the frizzies. This, of course, should be spot tested on any sweater to make sure it causes no problems but is certainly worth a try for that sweater you just love but can’t wear next to your skin.

  18. I highly recommend Cascade’s new Venezia Worsted weight – merino/silk blend. Working with it now and just love it! It’s not cheap but has good yardage – I think around the 140 yard area. It’s not hot to wear either.

  19. Even better than wool/silk, for stitch and cable definition and softness, is wool, silk and bamboo.

    I’m exceedingly fond of Elann Incense, an economical but lovely 50% wool, 25% silk, 25% bamboo worsted from elann.com; it knits up slightly lighter-weight than wool and silk alone, and makes wonderful sweaters for milder climates (or spring/fall wear). And I think the bamboo content gives extra crispness to stitch patterns in general.

  20. Hi! I decided to have the GP be my first knitted sweater project. My LYS had Elsebeth Lavold’s Angora (008 Aubergine) on sale so I decided to treat myself. The yarn is 60% Angora, 20% Wool and 20% Polyamide. Any thoughts? I believe I went down a needle size to accomodate. Thanks! jg

  21. Sandi, it sounds like a logical choice, you convinced me. Even if we could afford 100% silk, it would be too slippery for cables, wouldn’t it? McKinley, I have animal cruelty concerns too – but did I read that Tussah silk is made from the cocoons of silkworms after they’ve “left the nest” so to speak – that the silk is harvested without harm to to the worm? I think it’s more textured than “regular” silk, but it’s still silk – something to consider. I haven’t tried it yet myself.



  24. I knitted this sweater in Hempathy from Elsebeth Lavold. I like the drape and the way the cables held there shape. It has been washed and it still has kept it shape. I had to change the needle size to a 5 and redo the sizing with a completely different gauge, but it came out fitting me just great.

  25. Hmmmm… this all makes sense… you are wise! I have started a sweater that has a cabled band around the bottom, but otherwise is stockinette and close-fitting, with a little gathering around the chest, very similar to the Gathered Pullover, but not gathered with cables. Like you, I labored over the decision for yarn… I live in a warmer climate and didn’t want wool. I didn’t want a wool blend because even as little as 20% wool makes me rashy… I finally FINALLY picked Debbie Bliss Cathay, which is 50% cotton, 35% rayon & 15% silk. I’ve knitted a whopping 3 inches of sweater. But then i read your post about cotton having no memory and stretching out of control… Did I choose poorly? HELP!!!

  26. Are you the young lady featured as the editor? If you didn’t write that article, I would like to see a photo of you. You sound so friendly; and pleasd dont take this the wrong way.

  27. I love your choice-yummy silk and wool. I just finished a jacket in Dream in Color, a washable wool. Wool and yet very soft “prickleless”. I too don’t like prickles. I used blue and PURPLE! I

  28. Sandi – I really enjoyed your discussion on yarn choice and learned some good stuff. However, I REALLY zeroed in on your comment about more accurate gauge with wood vs metal needles. I have a terrible time with fit although I swatch, wash and count stitches meticulously. Then my sweater doesn’t fit! I brought this up to a sweet lady at my LYS and she just said “It has to work if you are making swatches.” Can you explore this issue please? I use wood needles exclusively, both KnitPick Rosewood and Clover?s Takumi Bamboo. So far, the only way I have been able to resolve this is by knitting in the round, trying on as I go,and then tearing out and casting on to make it work. Barbara Walker’s top down sweater method works well too but it is hard to adjust for patterns. I usually just make up my own.

  29. Even though I love the look and feel of silk, I won’t use it because of the way it is produced which has already been noted by McKinley H. There are 2 exceptions to this rule for me, recycled sari silk which wouldn’t work for this project, and tussah silk which is made from the erupted cocoons after the moth leaves. Unfortunately, tussah silk yarn is very hard to find. If anyone reading this knows of any online sources please let me know.
    Thanks! And good luck Sandi!

  30. I just finished up the body of the Gathered Pullover & want my daughter to try it on before I knit the sleeves. I used Elann Incense which has 50% wool, 25% silk & 25% bamboo. She wanted a very soft yarn to wear for work under a lab coat. I wanted silk/bamboo combo to keep her cool at work (she’s a pharmacist). I love the pattern for my understated eldest child. The cable has great definition & ooh la la drape. I can’t wait to see it on her.

  31. Gorgeous color! And the cables look striking. I also wish the yarn companies would all say the type of yarn it is: worsted, dk, etc., or the weight or both! It would help so much for us budget-conscious substituters! Can’t wait to see the finished sweater…

  32. When will infiltrate the yarn companies to influence their choices. So many GOOD-SPECIAL yearns have been discontinued (probably bec men don’t knit). Very annoying.

  33. When will infiltrate the yarn companies to influence their choices. So many GOOD-SPECIAL yearns have been discontinued (probably bec men don’t knit). Very annoying.

  34. I knitting this sweater out of Knitpicks Andean Silk and it is my favorite sweater ever – wonderful yarn, with lovely drape! and very affordable

  35. I thought it was funny. Wildly inaccurate, but funny. The silkworm is the larva or caterpillar of Bombyx mori (Latin: “silkworm of the mulberry tree”), the domesticated silkmoth is not harmed in the production of silk. silk is not “excrement” it is produced from the ‘bug’ the same way a spiders silk is. only difference really is silkworms arent using their much sturdyer web for catching lunch, they use it to metaphor into adults, to create other silk makers (offspring)so we can walk around in very soft, very warm/cool items. I love the way silk warms in winter and cools in summer. I dont know why folks would get upset by your humor, i was on the floor laughing from that. mink die for vanity, cows die for food, their by-product is leather, with silk worms…they discard the cocoon when they are done, we use that and make silk…and life isnt sacrafied in the process. anyway just my 3 cents worth. by the way, if any one has a problem with itchys this works: take a table spoon of olive oil and put it in the wash water and clean as usual. this works for wool, mohair and well anything itchy that came from nature. doesnt work with itches from acrylic or synthetics.

  36. As I was reading, I was thinking of a wool/silk mix. The ratio is a good one on the yarn you chose. And the yarn seems to make the center cable stand out.

  37. FYI everyone, this link (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silk) has a section about silk and animal rights. If the information here is correct, it does indeed kill the silkworm when the silk is harvested. Re the yarn choices, how about a wool/bamboo blend, like the one from Classic Elite? Someone else mentioned bamboo here and it sounded like a good compromise.

  38. Sandi,
    I found your description of yarns that cable well interesting. I have also noted that yarns that have a cabled structure (i.e., hold their “tube” shape rather than flattening out) also look good in textured stitches like cables no matter what their composition (wool, silk, cotton, etc.)is – or is this another (later) daily column?

  39. Thinking of cables, I love them but dislike the holes they create at the twist rows and have been thinking about using an extra stitch here and then removing it just to fill in. Ever heard of this being done, do you think it might work? Thanks. Alison

  40. I have made three Gathered pullovers and love each of them so much. I chose Knit Picks Telemark in mineral heather just to see how the sweater would fit. It came out nice but a little itchy! The next one, I used Rowanspun DK for a tweedy look…very lightweight, not much body to it. The last one, my favorite, I used Knit Picks Andean Treasure in granite heather. Talk about soft, the yarn was perfect and great value too. Great pattern!!!

  41. Good post, Sandi. Comments have been particularly helpful this time, too. Like Jodi W. I have a hard time getting a swatch and moving on to a fitted garment. I even swatch in the round for knitting in the round and I still can’t get the fit off a “correct” swtach.

  42. I have no idea what to substitute, but am loving your reasoning. As a Southern Californian, many, many of the projects in knit mags aren’t for me. That’s the reason I didn’t subscribe for a while, but only bought the spring and summer issues. I do subscribe now, because there are instructive articles even if few patterns for me in the “wool” issues. Which brings me to a suggestion for IK: why not a regular article/column for the warmer zones of the country, CA, HI, FL, suggesting warm-climate yarns for some of the patterns in each issue? I realize some patterns don’t translate – Arans, etc. – but others would. We love to knit, just give us a cool yarn choice.

  43. Awesome silkworm apology! It made me laugh out loud. As a biology teacher, I was naturally yelling at the computer when I read your last post, but you have TOTALLY made amends and I love you more than ever now! You rock!

  44. I made this sweather with a micro spun, sport weight yarn….cables look great and the “drape” is excellent. Not too sure of the durability of the yarn, tho. Time will tell.

  45. I chose berroco ultra alpaca light. I am in love with alpaca and love the color I chose. I am not up to casting on yet so will let you know how my yarn choice knits out.

  46. I was considering making Arbor, a summer top with lots of negative ease with KnitPicks’ Shine Sport which is 60% Pima Cotton and 40% Modal. Will the Modal make the cotton’s stretch bounce back? I need to know right away because I am buying it from someone’s stash.

  47. The yarn used for traditional Aran sweaters was often made with four or five plies, making a very round, full yarn. If one used the same singles to make a two ply yarn, three ply yarn, and a four ply yarn, then knit swatches using the same needles you would likely find very little difference in gauge, you would find little difference in gauge. The yarn with more plies would be far better for making cables because it is fuller and would produce better stitch definition. In general, I find “rounder” yarns produce better cables.

  48. The most constructive thing I have to add, is that I hope you did a washed swatch. I have had problems, and the knitting muses beat me down, when I used a blend, and didn’t wash the swatch (I find regular wool a little more trustworthy.)

    Otherwise, I think your stitchwork looks beautiful, and the color you picked is one that almost appeals to me, and I am not a purple-lover. I can’t wait to see it on you, and with your weight loss. Now if I can just do something about my weight…..

  49. Your yarn choice sounds like it will drape well, and feel soft on your skin. When you say you are going down a needle size, does that mean you are re-knitting it? The sweater appears to look best when snug.

  50. Thanks, Cain C, for the link to the Creme yarn on sale! I rushed right over and snagged a bag full. Yippee! I love Knitting Daily, Sandi’s articles, and everyone’s comments.

  51. I finished this not long ago and made it out of a 2 ply , 100% beautiful alpaca that I paid a fortune for but it was from a suri alpaca about 5 miles from where I live. THe cable looks good but I did make it a little too big, yes I swatched but it seemed to grow and I was paranoid that it would be too small!! I love it, but it does have a little too much stretch. I think your choice, and color are excellent. I can’t wait to see you model the finished product!!

  52. Just a note about the “sacrifice of the silk worm”. I have a photo that my sister took four years ago in a chinese street market, of a young woman unreeling silk by hand. She had a big pot of hot water, and fished out a cocoon (ouch! hot! hot!) and unreeled it. The hot water softens the silk filament, and (sadly) kills the creature within. If the worm/moth is allowed to chew its way out of the cocoon, it breaks up the filament, and pretty much destroys the high value of one single, long filament. This is the really old method, used in China for centuries.
    If you’re interested, read “Women of the Silk” by Gail Tsukayama which is a really good novel about the culture of the women who worked in the silk production a century ago.

  53. I love that purple myself and think that silk and merino blend sounds perfect! Can’t wait to see more of your progress! 😀

    Unrelated, but I was wondering, wasn’t Katie Himmelberg’s Frock Camisole supposed to be available as a free Knitting Daily pattern by March 31st?

  54. Well I made the Gathered Pullover in Heilo. Mainly because it was what was available at my local yarn shop! I also had a horrible time with the gauge, ended up using 9’s and making a smaller size than I measure.

  55. This sweater is on my “List of Things to Accomplish in 2008”, but I haven’t found the right yarn yet, much less the right color. I’d love to do it in an alpaca blend if possible, or straight alpaca yarn. Any ideas on the yarn to use with an appropriate shade of pink? I do so very much love pink.

    As I’m on a yarn budget too and living in Germany where the exchange rate is really bad, where can I find good yarn in the States that will ship to an APO box?

  56. Hi and first I’d like to say how much I love your messages – when I see them in my inbox a bright little light goes off in my head and a smile comes to my face! Well, I just started knitting this cardigan, and I didn’t have enought of any wool of the right kind in my stash so I went down to the wool shop in town and after much humming and haa-ing chose Phildar Wilky in colour Amarante, which is a kind of pinky colour. The composition is 54% Acrylic, 22% Polyamide, 13% Polyester and 9% Mohair. It’s lovely and soft but has a slight bobble which is probably going to take away from the beauty of the cable. And of course, though I swatched for basic guage, I didn’t swatch to death like you did. It seems to be working OK but probably doesn’t have enough memory. But since this is THE most beautiful sweater I’ve ever seen, I won’t mind knitting another and then another in different textures till I find one that’s just right. You’re probably thinking that I would have done better to knit 13 swatches than 13 sweaters… never mind; maybe I’ll try a silk wool blent for the next one!
    Caroline Vidican in France

  57. It looks wonderful but the true test is in the feel too. I have some merino and silk yarn that I have had for years and don’t know what to do with it because, when knitted up, it is fairly stiff. Your swatch look drapey and such a gorgeous colour!

  58. I say bravo to you! I totally approve of your choice. You did much much more than I would have (that is part of why you are an inspiration!).
    What would I have done? I would have found a pattern with the “called for” “pattern yarn” that I liked , that was available and done that. Instead of sticking with the pattern if the “original” yarn wasn’t available (or if I didn’t like it);my shopping would have restarted at the pattern level!
    Bravo to you!!!!

  59. The model seems to be wearing a camisole or tank top? Maybe that would protect delicate skin from the prickles… How did you lose the weight? Hurrah for needing a smaller size!

  60. I like a bamboo/wool blend. Nice drape and nice to the skin. I learned from a friend who knit a complete cardigan out of 100% bamboo, to knit bamboo smaller than necessary as it tended to sag. Her beautiful red cardigan – made to fit a really curvy girl – fit great in the morning and as the day wore on the sweater grew almost 2 sizes.

  61. I like a bamboo/wool blend. Nice drape and nice to the skin. I learned from a friend who knit a complete cardigan out of 100% bamboo, to knit bamboo smaller than necessary as it tended to sag. Her beautiful red cardigan – made to fit a really curvy girl – fit great in the morning and as the day wore on the sweater grew almost 2 sizes.

  62. Great choice! I rarely use the yarn ‘called for’ – too rigid! I have even started using a dk when worsted is called for – I’m a loose woman! Carole, Marietta, GA

  63. I chose silky wool by Elsebeth Lavold. I held up a strand of it to Brown Sheep Nature Spun Sport, and they seemed compatible. Gods must have been smiling on me, because my gauge worked out on specified needles. The feel and drape is perfect — I have tried it on against bare skin, and it is comfortable.

    I wish I had knit it in the flat though — it is very hard to put in the sleeves. In fact I am still only half-way through the second one.

  64. I have had great luck with sheen, drape, and eye popping cables with a blend of bamboo and wool, as well as bamboo and silk, also cotton and silk. Anything with bamboo or silk are my favorite yarns (at least for now). All wool or alpaca is too warm for women of a certain age, who get occasionally too warm, shall we say.

  65. Yarn choice has been a major issue for me. I tend to try to stay in the less expensive yarns, but am dissatisfied with the results. Also? I apparently have a knack for choosing just the wrong stuff. I now have 4 sweaters in my closet that I’ve knit that are either too puffy looking or too droopy (one in particular was an extreme disappointment – the yarn doesn’t hold its shape through the ribbing and sags – makes me look like the Michelin Man!).

    So please continue to post about yarn choices for those of us who always seem to make the wrong choice!

    By the way, thanks for these posts! I’ve learned a lot about fitting – Mega Problem #2 (after yarn selection!).

  66. Almost afraid to say, but I think I’d choose Caron Simply Soft. With wool allergies (not just pricklies – swelling, rash, sores – not pretty), I need to stay away from wool. And money issues, well, you know…. Although 100% acrylic, I find that it’s not stiff or scratchy at all. Works up very nicely to a fabric I enjoy wearing. I did a fisherman’s sweater for my husband, and it holds the cables beautifully. In fact, every time he wears it, I get pleads for “just one for me”. Sometimes even from strangers. 🙂
    But I think the key to making anything is finding something that you enjoy working with as much as you enjoy the finished product.

  67. What about cotton/wool blends? I don’t think anyone has mentioned these yet. I just put down my needles to post — I am working on the cable-down raglan (spring 07 issue) and using Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece (75% cotton, 25% wool). got the idea from someone else on Ravelry. Please don’t tell me it’s all going to stretch out — i am hoping there is enough wool there for some memory!! (I did wash the swatch & it did, shall we say, relax a bit) — Kim in SC where we can’t wear 100% wool year-round.

  68. Yes, children , they DO have to kill the silkworms to get the silk off, but it’s quick, and lets not forget the annual torture of the lambs to get their little coats off…

  69. I made the gathered pullover using Yarns Brunswick Pomfret, a yarn that I really like that is not available any longer. It was an “oatmeal” heather, and when the sweater was finished I dyed it with not quite enough black dye so it turned out a blue-gray color. I wear a camisole under it because the neckline is a little low for me, but I love the sweater!

  70. Dear Sandi-Once again you inspire and amaze me! I enjoyed reading about your quest for the perfect yarn. But even more, I am so inspired by your starting a sweater in your before measurements and having to make a change to after measurements. God bless you!

  71. I have the Gathered Pullover in my queue and I plan to try hempwol (50/50) which I got for another project that had to be frogged. I haven’t swatched yet, but I think there will be enough drape. Here’s hoping.

  72. I am a purple freak, so anything purple is going to make me sing with joy! I think the color is perfect and I think your choice of yarn will also be great. I love merino/silk blends. They just feel and look so absolutely gorgeous. So, as far as I am concerned, when you finish the sweater, just send it on to li’l old me. LOL Best wishes, Gisela

  73. This is such a good discussion. I know I almost never make something in the recommended yarn, must be a rebel. But boy do I have some scary stories to tell about my adventures. Probably as a result, I have never yet in my over 30 years of knitting made a regular sweater for myself that actually fit. Its something I’m going to work on being a fearless knitter. But my best yarn swap story was when I made this beautiful detailed crochet sweater and swapped in cotton…. Yep, weighs a ton, feels like armor. Its too beautiful to get rid of so it hangs in my closet as a reminder of all that can go wrong with yarn substitutions.

  74. This is such a good discussion. I know I almost never make something in the recommended yarn, must be a rebel. But boy do I have some scary stories to tell about my adventures. Probably as a result, I have never yet in my over 30 years of knitting made a regular sweater for myself that actually fit. Its something I’m going to work on being a fearless knitter. But my best yarn swap story was when I made this beautiful detailed crochet sweater and swapped in cotton…. Yep, weighs a ton, feels like armor. Its too beautiful to get rid of so it hangs in my closet as a reminder of all that can go wrong with yarn substitutions.

  75. I had planned to use the prescribed Lamb’s Pride Sport for this sweater, as I already have it in my stash. But I am sensitive to the “prickle factor”, so now I’m bummed that it may not be a good choice for me, either. I guess it’s good to know, but now I’ll have to re-think the whole project.

  76. I love the yarn! I’ve been thinking of making the same sweater…now I’ll wait to see what yours looks like!
    Thanks for a great site.

    Kay Thompson
    Columbus Ohio

  77. I used some handspun from a Rambouillet cross fleece in a natural grey with some color variation. I spun a soft 2ply at 14wpi, then to finish I slightly fulled the yarn during the washing process. It is soft, springy and the sweater is very light weight and comforable to wear. It reminds me of Rowan Felted Tweed . The sweater used much less yardage than expected so I have more of the yarn left for something else. It would make a great hat or may even end up in a weaving project.

  78. Just started an Elsebeth Lavold sweater which has very similar motifs at the waistline. I wanted to make it in silk as well, but decided to try Knit Picks Comfy which is a cotton/acrylic blend. And it promises “Excellent stitch definition”. Can’t beat the price – less than $30. I picked “blackberry”, a color which is almost identical to yours.

    Another note: in the book “Knitting on the Edge”, theres a page which shows a leaf motif done in 12 kinds of yarn including eyelash (?!), ribbon and wonderful silk.

  79. Hi Sandy, I’m dying to make this sweater, soon’s this year’s promised charity projects are done. Am thinking about a silk/angora blend for light weight, maybe with a bit of nylon for strength.
    BTW, how does one lose weight while sittin’ and knittin’? You must be one determined babe!

  80. Each one of us has to make our yarn choice based on the project. I didn’t know that cables need to grab. I do know about wool being prickly. Have you tried the wool yarns in KnitPicks? They are the softest and economical. Knitty

  81. Sandy, through your chats on yarn,gauge,and swatches, I feel a bit intimidated. your yarn choice is a lovely purple and looks great on cable, but how do I get over my fear of making a “knitting mistake in my choices of yarn”, for future projects? maybe that is an insite into being a fearless knitter.
    I love reading your posts, thank you for the education.

  82. I love your choice – the purple is gorgeous! I am allergic to lanolin and so I know just what you mean when you talk about the itchyness or prickle factor. I do find however that pure new merino has little/no lanolin and I can tolerate it. I would also love to see this made in alpaca. I’m curious if linen or a linen blend would also work well?

  83. A wool/silk mix would make a lovely choice I think. I am currently working with a similar blend (Manos Silk Blend) on the McQueen knockoff (see Ravelry for this one) and I adore the way it cables. I haven’t used the yarn you are using but if it works up as nicely as the Manos has, it should be stunning when finished. I love the sheen and the drape of the silk blended with the grabbiness and memory of wool. I’ll be interested to see your finished result!

  84. I am a vegan, so I was happy to see McKinley’s comments! For my first sweater I have decided to replace the recommended camel-hair yarn with cotton (ONline Linie 12 Clip). I also enjoy the new bamboo yarns – they are so soft and bright.

  85. It looks very pretty – and congrats on the weight loss! It’s a really nice reason to have a loose sweater 🙂

    I’ve been playing with silk/wool blends lately and found ArtFibers Sumo and Kyoto yarns. These are really lovely and also affordable if you are happy to dye them yourself. I love dyeing, so it’s win-win for me!

  86. Please, please, let me know how big a mistake I’m making using 100% cotton for Kate Gilbert’s “Mommy Snug”. I found a great tangerine color on sale and thought that it would work…but it’s mostly ribs/short rows and it’s a maternity sweater. I’m only about 6″ in so now’s the time to start over if I need to. I previously made the Mommy Snug out of Dark Horse (100%acrylic) and it has faux cables which knit up beautifully…plus you can toss it in the washer/dryer. I would highly recommend it…and will greatly appreciate any assistance with my cotton issue.

  87. Hm…. I think the yarn you chose sounds yummy BUT – I hate it when there are “buts”, nevertheless I just have to share my experience, so here it comes: I chose a 100% Merino yarn for my Arwen cardigan by Kate Gilbert. It drapes lovely, but the wonderfull cables lie a tad too flat for my liking. Since that sweater I have started to learn a bit about fiber (thanks to the amazing “book of yarn” by Clara Parkes and OF COURSE your great posts) and I think I know what happened. Merino is apperently one of the smoothest wools out there, thanks to the structure of its scales and the fiber-diameter – hence the great drape. But that also implies non-clingyness, so no “holding on to each other” by the cabled stitches. Now you are using a drapey-smooth Merino combined with an absolutely scale-less silk (err… “animal-extrusion”). I would expect your sweater to be flowing around you like a tunic around a greek goddess, but I would not exactly expect the cables to pull in the fabric very much! I hope you prove me wrong, because I loves me the purple pieces I see, but I am still a wee bit worried here!

  88. A Bamboo yarn – the drape is exquisite. I used Southwest Trading Co. Bamboo and got the most incredible drape on a sweater and wrap I’ve ever achieved.

  89. This is a great thread talking about different yarn weights. I always have to fall in luv with a sweater pattern whose yarn suggested (and of course colour) has been discontinued. Sigh…..
    oh well…. I have never tried a sweater in cables. I have made myself gansys. I was always afraid that cables would make me look bustier? …. I have gained a bit in the front area since going thru the change. Wouldn’t a cable make a woman look even larger in the front? Please share……
    Thanks Carole, Chester Co., PA

  90. I have a question about the Crystal Palace “Creme” for the Gathered pullover, I will be knitting it in a size L, you didn’t state how many balls of the “Creme” yarn I will need for a size L. I went and ordered 15 balls of apple, I hope this will be enough. Could anyone give me an idea if it will be enough?

  91. Alexandra, The Gathered Pullover pattern is in the Pattern Store on Knitting Daily, and if you click on the various details, you can read the yardage requirements for each size (in the original yarn), and you can convert those numbers for the new yarn you wish to substitute to determine the number of balls needed. Hope that helps. There is always the chance that the pattern will be free on Monday, in the top five list, but if you have the Winter 2007 issue, you may already have the pattern, along with the yarn requirements.

  92. I like the silk/ wool blends because they seem to have more memory than the pure silk. I knit a 100% silk sweater for my 6’7″ husband in a size 52. I had a perfect swatch, but when I finished it and he put it on, it instantly grew. The yarn was expensive so I ripped it out – all 20 skeins worth and re-knit using much smaller needles and adjusting the # of stitches ( I’m used to writing patterns for him). He wore it once and it began to look like a materinty smock. I tried everything and it won’t return to size. No more 100% silk for me….

  93. I like the silk/ wool blends because they seem to have more memory than the pure silk. I knit a 100% silk sweater for my 6’7″ husband in a size 52. I had a perfect swatch, but when I finished it and he put it on, it instantly grew. The yarn was expensive so I ripped it out – all 20 skeins worth and re-knit using much smaller needles and adjusting the # of stitches ( I’m used to writing patterns for him). He wore it once and it began to look like a materinty smock. I tried everything and it won’t return to size. No more 100% silk for me….

  94. Great choice in my opinion! If your yarn is discontinued and for the European readers ;D – silkdream from Lang Yarns is 50% Merion and 50% Silk and really is a dream to knit and wear! So a perfect replacement for pure wool too! The cables turn out beautifully with this yarn!

  95. It looks just fabby! I’m a big fan of substitution as I can’t find a lot of the yarns in my LYS (and I love, love, love GREEN!!!)and have had some really strange experiences (mostly due to lack of swatching, I have to admit) but your sweater looks fabby – great colour, great yarn! Kate

  96. I wish you would address the dilemma I have living in a warm climate (Florida)- having VERY LITTLE use for all those lovely ‘warm’ yarns (wool, alpaca, etc.) I don’t work outside the home and so I’m mostly interested in practical easy to care items. My favorites are shells or cap sleeves I can layer when the weather gets a little cool.
    Sandi, I love your way with words and enjoy reading your articles very much.

  97. As i’m allergic to most comercial sheep based yarns, I would have used an almost fluffless silk mohair blend, as I have a lovely cabled vest done in one that remebers it’s cables very well and drapes nicely, but it sounds lovely and I love the colour you’ve picked. I might have even used heirloom dazzle and acrylic that cables well and seems to drape well as well, I’m doing an elizabeth lavold sweater in it at the moment

  98. I think your choice looks beautiful! However, I think I may have gone with a Merino/tencel blend,handspun yarn for the memory and drape. But, that’s because I’m a spinner as well as a knitter.

  99. The gathered pullover looks very nice, but what can we substitute for the discontinued yarn? And what can a touchy, non-wool wearer substitute for wool in all the patterns?
    J. Scully

  100. Funny: Unless I’m knitting to fill a hole in my wardrobe (quick heather gray cardi because I’m sick of the 14 black jackets, sweaters and other office tops I wear 99&44/100% of the time) color is my last consideration. Often, budget and availability require this, but actually, I like to knit the way I cook. “What looks good in the market today?”

  101. Hello! Can anyone suggest a suitable Rowan yarn substitute that maybe doesn’t contain silk? I am thinking of knitting this garment but can obtain Rowan yarns by mail order only as I live in Cyprus…Thanks!