Silk and Cashmere

Asbjorn is working on a Leisel (sp) scarf and I thought I would try it next. I have 55% silk 45% cashmere yarn. Does it lend itself to "open" work that one may need to block or am I better off trying to cable?

PaxKnitter's picture

I found that mine looked much nicer after being blocked.


From what I've read, Russian Orenburg lace scarves are traditionally knitted with very fine yarn that consists of two plies: one of cashmere and one of silk. If your yarn is like that and if you knit your pattern at a gauge similar to that of an Orenburg scarf, the result should be striking.

Asbjörn's picture

I can't speak of cashmere from experience as I've not yet knitted with it but the pattern itself (as I am currently knitting it), is already well defined and open even before blocking. PaxKnitter's finished Liesel also seemed to open up even more after blocking. I don't suppose there would be any trouble with a cashmere/silk blend. The author of the pattern suggested that you could also do this in a laceweight yarn but I have a hard time envisioning this as it would almost seem too airy (perhaps suitable for an "indoors" scarf like women wear -I don't know what such a thing would be called-), and I would be afraid that the pattern would be "weak" unless perhaps it was knitted on smaller needles. I like the way the worsted weight gives some body to the willow leaves in this pattern. I guess you could always knit a swatch in pattern and see what you think. Nonetheless, I would recommend this pattern to anybody, it isn't difficult to follow and the results give some lovely instant gratification.


MMario's picture

Cash-silk should work very well. If it has much of a halo you might want to go up a size in needles from reccomended...Halo on the yarn tends to obscure lace patterns.

or not - because it may give a more solid look you'll like- only the dreaded swatch will tell.
MMario - ambiguity is cultivated, it doesn't happen in a vacuum!

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

Thanks guys. I just was not sure how some fibers knit. I assume mohair is one of those that needs to be really knitted loosely when doing an open pattern.

MMario's picture

if you have enough to spare a swatch - you might want to knit a bit, wash and block. The washing can effect the amount of bloom and halo the yarn develops, and give a vastly different effect from the dry swatch.

MMario - ambiguity is cultivated, it doesn't happen in a vacuum!

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

Tallguy's picture

PaxKnitter is correct -- ALL knitting ALWAYS looks better when blocked. However, blocking does NOT mean that you have to stretch the hell out your knitting!!

Blocking means to treat your knitting with moisture and to ease it into the final shape you want for it. Sometimes you can mist, or steam, or lay damp towels on it, or dip it into water, or even wash with soap and water. The moisture (water) allows the fibres to relax into the shape of the stitches, makes your knitting tension even out, and makes your knitting lay flatter, or takes on the shaping you put into it when knitting. You then allow it to dry by laying it out flat, pinning it out into the shape you want, stretching the dickens out of it, or putting it over something to give it a form.

Silk is not a fibre that likes to stretch much at all, no matter what you do to it. Cashmere will stretch a bit more. In combination, you may experience a variety of results if you were to submit your knitted article to moisture. Remember that silk has little body, and is excellent for items that require sensuous drape. It would not be suitable for a bulky scarf used for warmth.

If you are knitting lace, you usually want to show off all those holes which create your pattern. If you have a fuzzy yarn, you can obscure your pattern. Brushed mohair really doesn't work well for lace. However, a tighly twisted smooth yarn (mohair or anything else) will show off the stitches and the holes very nicely. Without seeing the yarn you are using, it's very hard to say at this distance how it will behave.

The only solution is the ever-present swatch! You may wish to knit a few inches of your scarf, steam it over a kettle or with a steam iron (but don't touch the scarf with the iron!!) and see how it reacts. Stretch it out if needed to show off the pattern. If you like the result, then continue knitting. If not, then find another yarn. This only takes a few minutes to do.

Remember, in order to show off the holes in lace, you normally use a larger needle than you would for that yarn. Experiment by going several sizes larger until you get the effect you want. But there is no way around the fact that you will still need to block your knitting... all of it ... no matter what it is.