Plan for a Sweater

One of my favorite, but not yet used yarns is Juniper Moon CSA share yarn. This yarn came from the 2010 clip.

photo of yarn

For a knitter, buying a CSA share for yarn is an exercise in delayed gratification. Fiber CSAs can operate a little differently from each other, but here’s my understanding of the general process: You buy a share for the next “clip,” or a year’s growth of wool. Then this is what has to happen before you get your share.

Flowchart of How a Yarn CSA Works

Whew! It’s a long process, but completely worth the wait. In the end, I’ve got a beautiful breed-specific yarn (Cormo!) that was made from wool grown by well-cared for and loved sheep. And don’t forget a small farm and mill have been supported.

So what to knit with this gorgeous yarn? I’ve got enough for a sweater, so a sweater it is. After looking through pattern books and ravelry, I settle on Belville by Carol Feller.

The share yarn is semi-solid, so it will really sing in a field of stockinette. The only snag is that Belville is a 2-color project. To keep this sweater all Cormo, I decide to use a
natural-colored Cormo fleece.

Cormo Locks

I like the color combination, but the colors are close in value. Compare a color photo of the yarn and some of the combed fleece to a grayscale image of the same photo.

Yarn Share and Combed CormoYarn Share and Combed Cormo in Grayscale

Will these fibers look good together? Is the lack of contrast between the colors a bad idea? There’s only one way to find out. And overdyeing the fabulous natural-colored Cormo it is an option, just not a preferred option.

The goal is to create a yarn from the fleece that will work with the pattern and the share yarn. So I start by taking apart a bit of the share yarn:

Plies of Share Yarn

It’s a 4-ply that appears to be spun worsted. Each skein weighs 100 grams, so each ply should be about 25 grams. So, I comb 100 grams worth of this exquisite Cormo and divide it up into 25 gram piles.

Combed Cormo Fibers

Using one of the plies of the share yarn as my guide I get to spinning. The fiber from this particular fleece has got a lot of spring, so I spin it in a mostly-worsted-but-semi-woolen manner. (In general, I try to spin in a way that enhances a fiber’s characteristics and this seems to be the right way to go for this Cormo.)

Comparing Piles of Yarn

Top is one ply of share yarn, bottom is spun single.

It’s a little heavier, but acceptable. I’m not looking to copy the yarn exactly, and the spinning is suitable to the crimp and springiness of the wool. So I continue on, spinning all the singles, then plying. What do you think?

Comparing Yarns

I wasn’t looking to copy the yarn exactly, but was interested to compare the two yarns.

The share yarn is 250 yards per 100-gram skein (2.5 yards per gram). My handspun is 135 yards in the 85-gram skein. (The other 15 grams were used in the sample below.) This makes the handspun only 1.6 yards per gram. A good example of small differences (spinning singles not quite as thin as the share yarn singles and not quite spinning worsted style) having a large effect.

Now onto knitting a swatch.

Test Swatch

I like the look, but will it work?

Pattern specs:
Colorwork stitches: 5.25 stitches per inch on US 7 needles
Stockinette stitches: 5 stitches per inch on US 7 needles

Washed swatch:
Colorwork stitches: 5.33 stitches per inch on US 8’s
Stockinette stitches: 5.5 stitches per inch on US 8’s

Playing around with needle sizes and adjusting the pattern will be necessary, but do-able.

To be continued…

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