Retro Cardi

Earlier this year, one of the long-standing yarn shops in San Antonio announced it was going out of business.

Twenty years ago, when I was obsessed with needlepoint, vintage needlepoint, and Berlin work, I became friends with the original owner of the Yarn Barn.  She and I shared a mutual passion for out-of-print and antique needlepoint books.  She had the most extensive collection anywhere in the United States. This was several years before we even moved from Louisiana to Texas.

While my friend had sold the business two or three years ago, I still had some nostalgic feelings about the shop because several of her employees still worked there.  In preparation of liquidation, they had sales for several weeks, but it was not until the very end, that I could bring myself to go.

When I finally did, everything in the shop was 40% and the sale of the day was everything Noro at an additional 20 or 25% off.  Certain there would be nothing left, especially in a sweater quantity for me, I half-heartedly made my way to the shelves with Noro.  A delightful surprise was awaiting me. There were some fifteen skeins of Noro Retro (now discontinued) in a deep, rich dark blue (#10).  The Retro was a blend of wool, silk, and angora.  The wool was not merino, but it was a thickish-thinish single ply for which Noro is well known.  I knew it would soften some, but it had a charming rustic look about it.  What sold me was the color, even though I had not a clue what it would become.

After I got it home, I swatched it, of course.  Once it was soaked, blocked, and dried, it did soften quite a bit, but it was not next-to-the-skin wearable for me.

At that point, I knew it would probably become a cardigan, but that was as far as I got with it.

Around the same time, some buttons I had ordered from Etsy came in, and I tossed them on my stainless work table in my office/yarn/sewing room.  Serendipitously, they landed right next to the yarn.

While that might not have been a natural match for most people, I was smitten.  Plus, the buttons are extra large at 1.25" in diameter.  They are heavy plastic with the mottled/marbled coloring all the way through.

Not long after that, Cooperative Press came out with Fresh Designs: Sweaters with an Everything Nice Hoodie:

The combination of the cardigan's casual design, the rustic charm of the yarn, and the funkiness of the buttons sold me.

This was not a complicated knit at all.  I had one hiccup.  While knitting the sleeves two-at-a-time on circular needles, I jumped ahead of myself when it came time to add the sleeves to the body of the sweater.  I stupidly stopped in the middle of a round, so when I attached the sleeves, the underside were facing up with all the decreases running down the from the top of my shoulders to the outside of my wrists.  This was not an attractive design element.

Unfortunately, I did not notice until I was almost finished with the raglan decreases and about to the neck line.  It was ultimately not a big deal, but it certainly took the wind out of my sails for a bit because I dreaded ripping back because I was alternating two skeins of yarn to even out the subtle variegated tones of blue from blue-grey to dark blue to blue-black.  It also helped even out the thick-thin nature of the yarn.

So, I shelved it for a few months while I worked on other things.

When I finally picked it up again, it took no time to finish knitting it all up.  What surprised me was the amount of time it took to do all the finish work in an essentially seamless sweater.  The button band consisted of more than 300 stitches.  There were I-cord button holders.  The thumb openings had to be picked up and finished.  The pockets had to be trimmed out and sewn down. The underarms needed to be grafted, and the buttons had to be sewn own.  All of that took up most of a Saturday.

Notwithstanding, I am surprised at how much I love this sweater!

The yarn softened up tremendously without losing its rustic, rough-and-tumble character.  The extra long sleeves with thumb holes are remarkably comfortable and warm.  The hoodie fits just right without overtaking the whole garment.  Best of all:  the pockets are fabulous!  I just love how they are shaped and how easy they are to put my hands into.  Sincerely, everything about this sweater is so nice!

Unfortunately, I had to take the sweater off to take pictures of it, and it was really cold this morning.  I did not notice how skewed it was on the mannequin.  Sorry!

My sweet Remy agreed for a quick picture, too!  While he needs a good clip, it is too cold for him to lose all that fur at the moment.

He likes the sweater, too.  He cannot wait for me to wear it on a walk with him.

Oh, and one last comment about the Yarn Barn, in November, it was announced someone had bought it, so it will continue to remain in business!

Happy New Years!


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