My current work in progress:

Seaforth designed by Alice Starmore, knit in British Breeds 5-ply Guernsey Wool on US 3 needles.


Knitting With Cotton

Last week, Rona commented:

After reading all your comments about Calmer I am very tempted to get some and try it. You one said you did not like to knit with cotton, and I have never enjoyed it much. It’s either too heavy, stretches out of proportions or whatever, but I have not had much success with cotton. Why have you changed your mind about cottons? How much Calmer would I need for a sweatshirt style sweater?

I haven’t changed my mind about cotton — I still don’t like knitting with it. But these days, if I want to knit a sweater that has a chance of ever being worn by me, it can’t be in wool. I haven’t worn a wool sweater in 3 or 4 years because I am too warm. You may have noticed that I’ve knit a heck of a lot of socks and lace in the past few years. But I still like to and want to knit sweaters. So at some point, cotton has to enter the line-up.

Rowan Calmer is a very pleasant cotton to knit, because it is a soft stretchy blend. It’s not hard on the hands while you knit it, like some 100% cotton yarns. I enjoy knitting with it very much. But because it is so soft, you have to be careful what you use it for. You wouldn’t want to use it for a very structured item, I think, because it would have a tendency to sag. This could be overcome somewhat by using stitches with a lot of structure, like cables and twists.

I think it is a great choice for something like the Mason-Dixon Daily Sweater, an easy sweatshirt style sweater. Incidentally, the size large Daily sweater takes 10 skeins of Calmer (to answer the second half of Rona’s query).

On to Rowan All Seasons Cotton . . .

This yarn is also a cotton blend: 60% cotton and 40% acrylic. But it is not nearly as soft as Calmer. But at the same time, not quite as hard on the hands as 100% cotton. Still, I can only knit it for short periods of time before I find my hands getting tired. Hence I’ve made only small progress on my Rib and Lace Cardigan:

The truth is that I did not feel much like knitting all weekend and only spent any serious time working on this yesterday afternoon.

Lucy seems not to be too pleased about the change to autumnal temperatures. She helped herself to my Colinette AbFab throw that is usually folded over the back of a chair.

“Would it kill you to close the window?”


  1. I feel the same way about knitting with cotton. A few years ago I decided spur of the moment to buy 4 skeins of Karabella Vintage Cotton, and I have never finished anything with it (started yes). It is just hard on the hands to knit with at a gauge that feels tight enough.

  2. I love the color of that sweater! I know what you mean about cotton hurting the hands; I’ve been on the hunt for non-painful cotton for a while (living in southern CA as I do), and I’ve just started a sweater for my husband in Blue Skies Alpaca organic cotton, which I’m loving — it’s incredibly soft and has some give to it, so I’m not hurting at all. It’s bulkier than the yarns you’re using, though…

  3. Lucy knows darned well that that throw is hers. Why else would you make it to match her eyes? Smart cat.

  4. I’ve just heard about something you might be interested in. It’s the Think Outside the Sox Contest. More information can be found on their website,

    Knowing how many socks you’ve knitted lately, and how good you are at coming up with your own patterns, this was something I thought you might like. Sorry for the late notice about the contest, but as I said, I’ve only just learned of it.

    Hope you and Lucy are doing well. Just remind her that it could be worse! In New England, we’ve already had our first frosts, and the days are steadily getting colder, too. Now if I could just get my husband to close the windows…

  5. Wow, I know what you mean about knitting with cotton!! Especially the mercerized. I know I have some arthritis either when I pull weeds for an afternoon or knit more than, oh, 5 minutes with mercerized cotton.

    When the cooler weather strikes, my cats seem to enjoy brief forays into the chill (I have an enclosure attached to a window so they can do that when they want – and safely). They then get incredibly frisky and chase each other around the house and THEN collapse for a warm slumber πŸ™‚

  6. Agree (1000) with Sheri–that throw is Lucy’s, and don’t be trying to take it away from her!

    Maybe you could knit a pretty wool sweater for Lucy? πŸ˜€

  7. I agree with Lucy. No fun being cold and nothing like a nice blanket to snuggle up with.

  8. I live in No. VA also – and I wear wool sweaters outside, instead of winter coats. It really doesn’t get *that* cold here – and buildings tend to be overheated inside.
    OTOH – I have to boy kitties – and they were a bit peeved that I left the windows open also – but they’re response was to become even more cuddly than normal (maybe I’ll leave the window open more often)

  9. Sheesh – how many typos can one woman make while commenting to a blog
    1) I have TWO boy kitties
    2) THEIR response
    3) I don’t think I needed the word “inside” in the first paragraph
    4) The word “also” was in the wrong place in the last paragraph
    SORRY – sheesh – you’d think I never learned English

  10. Hear hear! Hubby allowed me to purchase materials for a sweater for him. Like others, he’s HOT and didn’t want wool. I’m workng with a Rowan linen/silk blend that is nubby, light and nice to work with. Wouldn’t show up the beautiful stitches of YOUR pattern selection, but it’s going great with Sally M’s Man’s cardigan.

  11. Lucy is so smart! She looks wonderful in blue, too.

  12. How would you compare Rowan All-Seasons Cotton to Lion Brand Cotton-Ease ( which some people seem to really like)?

  13. I ordered some Calmer – now to see how I like knitting with it.

  14. Did you find that the Calmer split much while you knit with it? That’s a problem I’ve found with many cottons.

  15. Theresa in Italy says:

    What I like about Calmer is that it feels more like wool than cotton in the hand—much more give and not nearly as heavy. And Lucy is obviously a cat with impeccable taste in throws, especially if they match her eyes. (Although with all that fur, how can she feel the cold?)

  16. Lucy has to be warm and comfy too. Didn’t you make that just for her? LOL

  17. Wow. The Rib and Lace Cardigan is coming out great. I agree with you on knitting with cotton. Knit Picks has some great Cotton yarns that are mixed with just a little bit of wool. You might want to check them out as well. πŸ™‚

  18. Lucy, The Meezer sympathizes with you…she’s become a lap-cat, and is burrowing under the bedclothes in the dead of night…

    Must be fall!

  19. I am just finishing the simple T from Knitting Purl and Simple, in rowan Purelife cotton. while it’s not bad to work with, it looks a bit, well,messy. the waist decreases stand out like sore thumbs and the picked up stitches for the neckband kind of sag. I’m hoping that a gentle washing and drying will straighten all that out. While wool is out the question for me too, my next sweater will be wool anyway, as it’s so much more of a joy to work with. and I got my vogue yesterday, and I want to make the same cardigan you areon.. maybe in a wool/silk blend πŸ™‚

  20. a lot of people have issues with cotton. i have a friend who refuses to knit with it due to the texture. it can be quite rough, but i haven’t worked with many cotton yarns, so i haven’t been able to experience it firsthand!

  21. Do you think Calmer has a tendency to pill? I haven’t had the opportunity to see it knit up, but I have noticed significant pilling with other acrylic blends. However Rowan yarns are high quality, and since I live in southern Louisiana, I’m tempted to try Calmer. It is frustrating to have lovely wool sweaters that I get to wear perhaps once or twice a year.

    Our rescue cat, Cocoa, looks very much like Lucy,but our vet said that he is a Himalayan. He is very friendly (loves to make new human friends), affectionate and playful. He and I really enjoy your (you and Lucy) blog.

  22. Regarding the Calmer:

    This could be overcome somewhat by using stitches with a lot of structure, like cables and twists.

    One word: Morrigan!

  23. I can not wear wool sweaters either because they make me too warm. Have you tried knitting with bamboo? I suppose it wouldn’t be great for structured garments either.?
    P.S.: I like how you change Lucy’s photo at the top of the blog every post.

  24. My dogs know how Lucy feels. They both keep getting their 75 lbs bodies into bed with us, general on top of me, which doesn’t make for a good night’s sleep!
    Love Calmer. Calmer is awesome.

  25. I, now, know exactly what you mean about being too “hot” for wool sweaters. Though I live where wool is nearly a necessity beginning next month, I’m dreading the thoughts of it this year…..I’m hoping that I don’t have to wait 3 or 4 years (yikes!) to wear all my lovely wool again.

  26. I really like how your cardigan is knitting up. πŸ™‚