Wow. It was a good thing I washed my Shepherd & Shearer yarn. It turned the soaking water brown. Yuck! Sheep are dirty little beasties! There was even a little silt in the bottom of the tub when the water drained out. The whole picture was too gross for prime time, so here's a corner of the bathtub where you can see the ivory tub wall, the scuzzy water, and some dark submerged yarn. Compare and contrast:
Speaking of contrast, here's the one between the washed hanks and one of each that I held back temporarily just so I could see how much difference it made. It may not show as well in the photo as in person, but the washed yarn is definitely a whiter shade of pale. The Colored Flock didn't change color, but got lighter and fluffier.
Now that we're washed and dry, it's time to wind up a ball and start swatching! I have decided to make the Shepherd cardigan, but for sure with some modifications. Purists and/or the designer herself will just have to get over themselves if they don't like it. This is going to be my sweater; it's going to take a good deal of work to make it; and I want it to be a sweater that I like and that I will like to wear.
First of all, the hood's gotta go. It's enormous--not a fashion detail that looks good on me, and the bulk of it on the back makes it difficult to wear another layer over the sweater. I also have a major problem with the seed stitch borders. Even on the model they flare out, not a look I want. Possibly the flare could be cured by knitting the borders on smaller needles than the body of the pattern, or by using a smaller stitch count for the edge and increasing for the cabled area. However, I thought of a different way to tame the edges; see what you think.
I wound, I cast on, knit, cabled, cast off, washed, blocked, and this is what I got:
Sorry I photographed the swatch upside down. The top is a K4 P2 rib that flows right into the cabling, and it seems to work really well. The cable pattern comes out at the right width gauge, but instead of 32 rows per 4 inches of length, I get 26. It makes the thing pretty much square. I'm not sure what to make of this, but I don't think it will cause trouble, as the important stages of the shape are marked by length ("work until it measures x inches") rather than by a count of pattern repeats. Just to see what I'd get, I finished with the seed stitch and, yup, it sure looks like a ruffle. No thanks.
What about the seed stitch button and buttonhole bands? There's going to be a change there, too. The front edges will be K1 P1 rib sewn to a zipper closure. If I were keeping seed stitch bands, I might use leather toggle closures rather than buttons and holes, but in addition to its ruffling properties, seed stitch is a more open fabric that admits cold breezes, so I'm just going to go seedless with this sweater. Will it still be the Shepherd sweater with all these changes? Does it matter?
And if this is not heresy enough, look out Shearer! I've got a crazy idea about converting that pullover into a cardigan.