Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Yarn selection for the Twisted Artichoke by way of the Waltham

Marly Bird designed the crowning glory of the latest Knitter's Magazine; in fact, it's the only reason I bought the rag (which I had to search out at Barnes and Noble three times because my subscription copy never appeared. Finally, a month after it was published, the magazine finally appeared at my local BN and I grabbed it. But honestly, Knitter's is consistently late, poorly distributed, and therefore irritatingly ridiculous).

The Artichoke Twist Cardigan features beautiful yoke cabling, simple body styling, and seamless construction, which makes it a winner for larger women (and thinner ones, too). I'd make one mod: I'd have the cardigan button all the way down - you know how I feel about belly gape.

There has been lots of talk on the Rav Knitting at Large group about this cardigan which Marly designed with the beautiful but expensive Bijou Basin Bliss. Much of the discussion centers on yarn substitution as people look for a more affordable choice. Some alternatives include:
  • St. Denis Nordique, 100% wool
  • Wool of the Andes Sport, 100% wool
  • Classic Elite Portland Tweed, 50% wool/25% rayon/25% alpaca
  • Cascade 220 Sport, 100% wool
  • Reynolds Whiskey, 100% wool
  • Ultra Alpaca Light, 50% wool, 50% alpaca

So what happens when you change yarns in an attempt to replicate a 50% yak/50% wool fiber? A lot. I have an object lesson to prove my point. Let's look at how another sportweight/dk weight project turned out in different yarns: the Waltham. Kathy Zimmerman designed the original in Louet Eastport Alpaca, a 70% alpaca/30% merino wool blend. I saw the original at Kathy Zimmerman's store, Kathy's Kreations, and it's lovely.

Dottie made hers in the 100% alpaca Filatura Lanarota Puno. I've seen Dottie's sweater in person and it's gorgeous, too. The all-alpaca yarn gives her a drapier, softer, and warmer sweater with a fuzzier cable.

My online gal pals Mary-Kate and Celine also made lovely Walthams, but their cardis are in Cascade 220, a 100% wool. This yarn delivers crisp cables with less warmth and drape than the 100% alpaca.

Elizabeth took a tweedy approach for her beautiful Waltham by using Lion Brand's Wool Ease, an 80% acrylic/20% wool yarn. The sweater looks beautiful on her, too! The acrylic blend delivers chiseled cables and machine washability, too.
Look at Kathlynn's gorgeous wool and silk blend Waltham. I love the eye-popping cables on this and the perfect fit, too. Kathlynn used Berroco Inca Gold.
Long-time friend of this blog Pat made a luscious Waltham in 100% wool. I can't remember which yarn she used, but I do remember how pretty she looks in this. She complained bitterly about the seaming, but look at how wonderfully she finished this cardigan. Perfect.
Finally, I made my Waltham in my favorite Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light, which yields a deliciously soft, fuzzy sweater that's warm without overheating this menopausal girl.
So, after this trip down Ravelry finished objects lane, keep these lessons in mind as you consider yarn choice for your Twisted Artichoke. I'm going to make mine in the prescribed Bijou Basin Bliss because I was lucky enough to get paid in yarn for some logo design work I did. I look forward to tackling the Artichoke in the new year and think this sweater warrants another knit-along, too.


  1. Thanks for the compliments, Julie!!!
    I went the cheap-o route and used Knit Picks Wool of the Andes.
    It worked great and is very nice and warm.

    Loved seeing all the lovely Walthams and how the different yarns look in the finished sweaters. An interesting study!!!

  2. Thanks for the yarn comparables, Julie. I'm with you on the whole button thing: Buttons the entire length. I can button it if I want, or not, depending on how much warmth I want. Usually, I button up from the bottom, leaving the top three or four unbuttoned.
    Great post!

  3. I've not knitted a sweater with yak yet, but I own one that is 50% yak, 50% feels like cashmere and drapes like alpaca. Of your list, our mutual favorite: Ultra Alpaca lite would be the closet in feel and drape, and at a n acceptable price.

  4. The Yak/wool sounds yummy but I'd probably cook in it here on the Wet Coast. I'd be able to wear it a week or so a year!! So, I think I'll explore the Ultra Alpaca Lite. I wish I had enough handspun for the job though . . . .

  5. I want in on the KAL for this! Please PLEASE pm me on Rav or even email so I know to check in, lol! Thanks HEAPS for your lovely post. xx