Northern Black Forest Cardigan

I’ll start this year with a cardigan I made for Marvin. Its story starts in September of last year, when I bought the fiber. I visited the Straubenhardter Wollfest, a wool festival in Straubenhardt. Straubenhardt isn’t far from where I live, however it belongs to the black forest and you can see that! This was my first wool festival ever and I went there because some of the gals of my spinning group helped organizing it. That meant that there was a whole room reserved for my spinning group. Each of us was invited to bring her wheel along. The festival visitors in exchange where allowed to stare at us as log as they wanted and ask questions. So strictly speaking I wasn’t a visitor I was a contributor to the wool festival ;) So at the morning of the festival I made myself ready, grabbed my spinning wheel and drove to the black forest! I love the black forest in autumn. It is soo lovely. All those colors, all those tress all those hills and mountains :) I tend to get a little sentimental being surrounded by all of this, hehe. The weather was lovely too, the sun was shining but it wasn’t too hot to wear a knitted cardigan ;) When I arrived there were quite some people there already. The view at the Villa Kling was stunning. Villa Kling is the name of the house the wool festival takes place in and around of. There were so many sellers offering beautiful hand dyed yarn, fiber and everything fiber related. And there were alpacas there and Coburger Fuchsschafe as well! I had a great day! I spun the whole day, I chatted with so many lovely people, I drank coffee, ate cake and even won the tombola :) And I bought some things too. Which brings us closer to Marvin’s new cardigan.

Andreas and Paula Mahr had a booth at the wool festival as well. They belong to an association that promotes Coburger Fuchs-sheep. Everyone in the association keeps those sheep and they collect their sheep’s fiber, then they let others process the fiber into unique products like socks, cardigans, blanket etc. And then each one of them sells those goods. This process wold be too expensive and tedious if every one of the shepherds would do it alone but together they can offer their products for a reasonable price and even make a little money from their sheep’s fiber. The products are mostly sold on markets and not the Internet unfortunately. So when I got to their booth I was eager to talk to Andreas and Paula and Andreas had time for me. I asked him all about the association and about his sheep and I got rid of all of the questions I could think of. It was a really nice talk. Andreas is also a shearer and he told me that he doesn’t only shear his own sheep but lots of sheep located in the northern black forest area. Most of the shepherds are happy when they don’t have to get rid of the sheep fibers themselves, for them it is a waste product. Luckily Andreas takes the fibers with him and once every year he drives with all those smelly sheep furs to a carding facility (or whatever this is called.. a place where people have machines that card wool ;)). There he lets all those different fibers card together to a fleece, he calls the endproduct gray northern black forest wool. He told me that there is every breed of sheep that lives in the north forest in there. :D Sounds great, doesn’t it? And so I bought 500 g of it.

Marvin was still in America when I decided to dye some wool in the kitchen, hehehe. It was a lot of fun and a little messy. But mostly fun! I dyed half of the gray wool green, I used WashFast acid dye in Avocado (No 707) for this. And I love how it turned out. Marvin liked it too and he asked me to make him a cardigan from it :)

Spinning this wool was a little harder than what I was used to. There was some organic material in the wool, I am used to that. After all the organic matter has not been dissolved by chemicals as is the case with industrially produced rovings and fleeces. The main problem however was, that there were lots of different fibers in there. Short hairs long hairs, thick hairs and thiner ones. I had some difficulties to get an even and thin thread.

But I’m happy with the outcome. I 2-plied the threads to a dk-weight yarn with a grist of approx 182 m/100 g. I swatched and my gauge with 4mm needles was 16 sts x 24 rows = 10 x 10 cm, which suggests that the yarn is more of a worsted than a dk yarn. Initially I wanted to use both colors to do some stranded knitting, but as the yarn tuned out thicker than I had anticipated and I only had 500 g of it I decide to go with stripes instead.

I didn’t use a pattern, just the gauge and Marvin’s measurements and because the yarn was relatively thick I was done pretty quickly. The fear of not having enough yarn accompanied me all the time, in the end I had enough, however I think the bodice could have used 2 or 3 more stripes, length-wise. But Marvin is happy with it, so I’m happy too!

I knitted the cardigan in rows, seamless and top down. The sleeves were knit in rounds and to avoid jogs I used the method shown in this Garnstudio video and it worked like a charm!

The buttons were from my stash and I didn’t stabilize the button bands this time.

Marvin is happy with the cardigan and he is almost as amazed as I am that it was made from sheep that live nearby, sheared by someone I talked to :) Some people like the artsy part about spinning the most. I am definitely one of those spinsters that likes working with unmanufactured material and making it into something. Thinking about processing smelly greasy sheep wool makes me happy and excited, hehe. I really need a garden! And sheep!

Even though Marvin told me a lot of times that he does not want to wear itchy sweaters he wears this itchy sweater. Just as he wears his even more itchy Icelandic sweater. It turned out that Marvin is okay with the itchiness of course wool, what he cannot stand is the itchiness of alpaca yarn, which is itchy in another way. More like getting your hair cut and it falls into your sweater itchy. To avoid this kind of itchiness by all means I spun the wool with short draw and a lot of twist. That also makes the yarn more durable.O

You can have a look at the project on Ravelry here and read more about the pants Marvin is wearing in the pictures here.

Macht’s gut!


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3 thoughts on “Northern Black Forest Cardigan

  1. Lisa

    You never cease to amaze me! In an utmost wonderful, creative way! Marvin’s cardigan is perfect!! Color, Fit, Stripes, Yarn…..! You did a fabulous job and it’s great joy to feel your excitement through reading your words about your journey along the way. :)

  2. Caroline

    That is so amazing. I love how the colours of the stripy cardigan blend with your surroundings too. I am so impressed that you dyed, spun and knitted this cardigan. It looks absolutely fantastic!