My current work in progress:

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



The new project being knit from Rowan Calmer was, as a couple of you guessed, Cromarty.

Back in 2007 I knit Cromarty in Koigu Kersti. At the time, I mused that I thought it would be nice to knit from Rowan Calmer.

On Saturday I grabbed a skein of Calmer in the “Sage” colorway and started in on the back. Here’s what I did:

Note that I referred to this project in the past tense. Note that it is off the needle. This work-in-progress is no more.

While I easily got gauge, I did not like the way it was turning out. There is a lot of cable manipulation in this pattern and there were too many wonky stitches to suit me.

And the cables looked a little too skinny to suit me. In the version I knit in Koigu Kersti, those cables are nicely plump and really pop. In Calmer they look a little sad and anorexic. The knitted fabric seems rather flimsy as well.

I really thought that Calmer would be perfect for this pattern, and have had that idea in my head for years. I got gauge using the recommended needle size, a U.S. 5. I was surprised at how flimsy and wonky the fabric was, since I used a size 7 needle for 2 cabled Calmer sweaters about a year ago with great results. So I started wondering if this batch of Calmer is somehow not up to standards — was it thinner/frailer than usual? It did seem thinner while I was knitting it.

I pulled out a different skein of Calmer to compare.Wonky Calmer on top, good Calmer on the bottom.

Well, that explains why it felt thin and flimsy while I was knitting it.

At some point in the near future I’ll recommence work on Cromarty. Using a different batch of Calmer.

Lucy is strangely unaffected by my yarn woes.



  1. Wow, that’s a big difference between good Calmer and wonky Calmer. Is this why it’s being discontinued? Ouch!
    pdxknitterati/MicheleLB´s last blog post ..odds and ends

  2. That is really way too bad, because from a distance it looks like it was working well. If it was wool I’d have possibly (and also to my detriment) continued on the theory that blocking cures many a flaw.
    Seanna Lea´s last blog post ..still not dead

  3. Lucy is practical cat who knows who to leave the knitting wonkiness to. Does the Cromarty pattern call for increasing the number of stitches as you begin the cables in the major motifs?

  4. Would it have been better after blocking, you think??

  5. I’m sure you’ve found, as I have, that when a yarn is on the brink of being discontinued it’s quality has been going downhill. It usually has something to do with problems at or with the mill. I find it especially sad in the case of Calmer, as I, too, really liked knitting with it. I seem to remember that someone once referred to it as “knitters’ crack”.

  6. Why does this remind me of buying 2 pairs of jeans, same size, same style, same color – and having one fit a whole lot better than the other?

  7. judyleeknits says:

    You have my sympathies Wendy. I once had this problem, though it was with an inexpensive baby sport wgt yarn. This was a “no dye lot” yarn, so I figured I could just buy some more for my project. No worries! The new yarn matched in color, but was not the same thickness. I had already knit three-quarters of a baby blanket and had to start over. I did manage to finish the new blanket just in time for our grandson’s arrival. It was his favorite blankie. 🙂

  8. Love the jeans analogy in Iris’s comment. it is sooooo frustrating to choose a yarn you think you know and, alas, it lets you down. The knitting did look good from a distance, somewhat wonky close up. good luck with the new batch.

  9. wow that is quite a difference in the yarn. I am stunned.
    Brandi´s last blog post ..Cyber Monday and NO Fleece!

  10. Natalie Doyle-Hennin says:

    Disconcerting that a company with a reputation like Rowan’s (and prices to match) would have such bad quality control. Or am I thinking of Rowan from the old days (Seventies) in the UK? I haven’t purchased any yarn since, though I have several of their pattern magazines (mostly numbered in the low digits).

    Good luck with the new batch. The cable patterning looks gorgeous.

    Natalie from Arlington (now in CT)

  11. Natalie Doyle-Hennin says:

    Whoa, bay-bee… I just misspoke.

    When I say “I haven’t purchased any yarn since,…” I mean “any Rowan yarn.” My stash is, among other things, currently buoying the seats of my sofa and stuffing a few throw pillows.

  12. Wow, that could really explain why Calmer is going out! There was a petition going around to save Calmer — sounds like it will only be saved if there’s a mill that can produce the original quality yarn.
    Hissy Stitch´s last blog post ..Selfish Swap

  13. The differences between the Calmer is perplexing…… How bizarre!
    I love the “action shots” of Lucy 🙂

  14. Cromarty is gorgeous; it’s a shame the yarn let you down! And I love Lucy. It’s amazing how our furry friends are generally so capable of keeping things in perspective…
    Wendy Harrington´s last blog post ..Sunday’s Apple Dumplings

  15. Wendy, I know that dyes can affect yarns differently. Samples of colors from the same undyed skein can vary greatly in thickness, but not, I think, nearly as much as the two you showed us. “Wonky” barely covers it!

  16. BTW, I forgot to mention, I love my little green icon. Can I take him home with me? I bet he’d adapt into a really cute knitted monster!

  17. How the hell do people guess what you’re working on?! I’m floored every time you ask if people can guess & someone guesses right! Were these people on Name That Tune? I can barely keep track of my own projects, let alone try to guess what someone else is doing based on the merest hint!

  18. OMG, who flubbed up on that batch of Calmer at the mill!?!?! Looks like maybe it was supposed to be a different yarn entirely. Lovely color though…I have a whack of that color in my home furnishings. I am not familiar with Cromarty, so next time I can get into Rav I’ll look for it. Better luck with the next one!
    Anna´s last blog post ..Hey, guys! I got pictures!

  19. Even the best of mills can have a bad day; looks like you got a batch of yarn that slipped past the quality controls.

    Will look forward to seeing Cromarty in Calmer at some point in the future. In the meantime, this is a good lesson for all of us to be willing to pull the plug on a project that isn’t working out quite right. Thanks for sharing this with us!

    P.S. to Samina – I hear ya!
    Linda´s last blog post ..Sunday Sock Pattern – Regatta Socks

  20. I have a couple sweaters’ worth of Calmer in the stash. I think they are The Good Calmer. ::breathes sigh of relief::
    kmkat´s last blog post ..Murmuration.