I’ve seen thousands of knitted sweaters, but only a few that truly jumps out at me. One of them is Fern by Alice Starmore in her book Stillwater. This book has been out of print for a long time and there is no possibility that it will ever be reprinted. The current price for Stillwater is about $100 on ebay; too much to pay for just one pattern. Another alternative would be to buy the pattern AND the yarn from her Alice Starmore’s web site, Virtualyarns.com. With the dismal rate of exchange between the dollar against the pound, I can’t afford this kit at $150.
Many years later, despite many books and designs on Aran sweater, this design is still one of most beautiful sweaters I’ve ever seen. The design is organic with subtle twisted stitches and highlighted with bobbles on the branches. While looking at my friend’s library in Ravelry, I was ecstatic to find out that she also collect Alice Starmore books and has this pattern. She has graciously let me borrow the book and my next quest would be to find the perfect yarn. The ideal yarn would be Alice Starmore’s 3-ply Hebridean yarn, which was designed for stitch definition and softly blended heather. This yarn is outside of my budget, so I’ve been swatching with more reasonably priced yarns and here are the candidates.
First option: Elann Gentry Tweed, 80% wool, 10% cashmere, 10% silk. 3-ply at $3.48 for 50 gm, 125 m.
Result: Good definition, nice heather color and texture with the silk noil. Yarn isn’t not as soft for having 10% cashmere .
Second option: Knitpicks, City Tweed KD, 55% Merino wool, 25% superfine alpaca, 20% Donegal tweed. 2-ply at $3.99 per 50gm ball, 123 m.
Result: Not good definition with 2-ply yarn, nice tweedy color.
Third option: Knitpicks, Wool of the Andes, 100% Peruvian Highland Wool. 4-ply at $2.19 per 50 gm ball, 110 yds.
Result: Good definition, nice heather color but kind of boring.
Forth option: Knitpicks, Wool of the Andes, 100% Peruvian Highland wool. 4-ply at $1.99 per 50 gm ball, 110 yds.
Result: Good definition but the color is too flat. Needs heather yarn.
And the winner is…This yarn has the best color and texture but knitting with silk noil can be a bit annoying with the little bumps. I hope it will soften up after a few washes.