Billie Jean

Billie Jean 1

It was really interesting knitting with Wool & the Gang’s newest yarn, Billie Jean.  I used color Dirty Denim, which is 60% upcycled denim / 40% upcycled raw cotton.  It has a beautiful marled look, and feels very soft and pliable when knitting. However, once it’s blocked . . .

Billie Jean 2

I started with the Drumlin cardigan pattern from Amy Herzog’s Customfit program.  I knit on US 7s and was true to my chosen gauge, but I could tell before I was even finished that it was going to be WAY small.  I don’t know if the measurements I put into the program weren’t accurate enough, or if it was because of the composition of the yarn, but it wasn’t working.  So, I went off-book:  (a) instead of knitting the sleeves separately, I picked up the stitches from the yoke, then knit short rows to form the sleeve cap, and then had to reduce very quickly because I shortened the sleeves; (b) when I finished, I didn’t like how open it hung, so I went back and added width to the button bands, but because I didn’t want it any wider along the neckline, I used short rows on the fronts to limit the additional width to that area.

Billie Jean 3

I used 6 skeins (148 yds/ea) and I really like how it looks and feels, but be warned . . . when you wet block (or wash) it, think about how your jeans feel when they first come out of the wash – particularly if you were to dry them on a blocking board.  I’m talking stiff!  And, the sweater seemed to . . . not shrink, per se, but you know how jeans are so much tighter when you first pull them on after they’ve been washed?  They need a chance to be stretched out and loosen up.  Unfortunately, you don’t wear a cardigan in the same way, so it doesn’t ever stretch to fit the way jeans do.  I spent a fair amount of time yanking on the sleeves, the hem, and the button bands to try to get them to stretch back into shape.

Billie Jean 4

The bottom line:  I really like this sweater, but I need a different kind of pattern.  Unfortunately, I don’t like Wool & the Gang’s patterns – they’re all one size, and I’m not shaped to look good in a shapeless, oversize sweater!  So, back to the drawing board.  Next I’m going to try the Washed Out Denim color – it has only 20% upcycled denim, so I’m curious to see how it behaves differently on the needles and when blocked.

Billie Jean 5

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3 comments on “Billie Jean

  1. I always appreciate your honest when it comes to reviewing patterns/yarn. I have learned a lot from you over the years. : )

    • Thank you, what a nice thing to say! I know I always benefit from hearing other knitters’ experience, and it’s fun to share what I’ve learned :)

  2. Wow! You are so creative, courageous and inventive to work around the limitations of the yarn and pattern. Your resilience reminds me why I continued to redo the back of Notre Dame de Grace, a poorly written but lovely pattern by Veronique Avery. I loved the Extra yarn in the color way I chose (with supreme help from Kay @ Far North Yarn Company I got it right on the third effort!) I recommend looking at Quince & Company for both yarn (fabric) and patterns. I have a “few” projects in the waiting and especially like patterns by Hannah Fettig, though I have yet to work one up so I can’t yet speak to how well she composes. You will find the right combination of yarn and pattern as your work demonstrates that! Thank you for sharing and inspiring.

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