Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Blast from Yarn Shops Past

French Tweed by Unger, two skeins

About 1979 or 1980, this yarn, "French Tweed" was displayed at the Yarn Barn in romantic Willimantic, Connecticut. It cost $7.50 per 100 gram skein, way beyond my knitting budget, but I longed for it. It came in several earthy, tweedy, hippie-girl colors, including this ecru/coffee mix, burgundy/pink, and coral/gold. It never went on sale, no one else ever bought it, and eventually, I moved away from Connecticut and was able to stop obsessing over it.

Strands of French Tweed yarn

Imagine my delight when I found it on sale for $2.50 a skein, (1987 or 1988, I think) at a wonderful yarn shop, Woolgatherer, on Dupont Circle in Our Nation's Capitol. I bought all my favorite colors, and soon knitted a burgundy gansey with sweet little cables on the yoke. To my horror, the yarn was terribly over-twisted, and made from short, brittle fibers, so the yarn broke often. The slubs made it easy to drop stitches and hard to find them, and the finished sweater twisted sideways and wouldn't hang straight no matter how many times I blocked it. Even my first efforts at spinning were better than this stuff.

I felted the sweater (which helped the twisting problem) and gave it to a very petite friend, and I gave away the six skeins of coral/gold to a blonde knitter, but I've had this stuff in the cedar chest for a long time. It didn't seem durable enough for socks, but this weekend, I decided it would do to test fit a cardigan pattern. I'm trying to get a better fit on a Barbara Walker-style top-down set-in sleeve pattern, and I thought a cardigan would be useful. Here's the front and back just before I picked up stitches for the tops of the sleeve caps. The black arrows show where the shoulder seams would be, if there were any.

Top-down cardigan with set-in sleeves


Reya Mellicker said...

Working with that yarn was an act of devotion! Still is, apparently. I'll look forward to seeing how it turns out. If anyone can do it, it's you, Rebecca. Bravo!

Rebecca Clayton said...

Devotion, or bull-headed stubborness? Or perhaps those are two sides of the same coin?

Robbyn said...

Thanks for posting about this yarn - I was just given three hanks of it and am wondering what to do with it.

I gather it's a bit of a challenge - but I'm looking forward to trying it :)

THanks again for the information!