(Bam-) Boo!

Okay, this will be a rant-y post. Because after years of knitting and even more years of working with textiles, I still screw up. And badly at that.
So, a few months ago, I started this sweater for my husband. He loves the British racing green color, and I love doing cables, so it seemed the perfect pattern. It was supposed to look like this:

What yarn to use? Just a few weeks before I used a great soy-bamboo blend for this sleep sack for my son, and I loved the sheen and drape of bamboo. It was a pleasure to works with, and wears great. So for this sweater I settled on a 70% bamboo 30% wool blend, which promised to be drapey and warm at the same time.

I bought the yarn, made swatches, took measurements of my husband, adjusted the pattern where it was needed. I took time to make sure it fit well. Tried it in to him several times during knitting.

Even with other projects interfering in the meantime, I was sure that it will be ready before the cold weather arrives. And after 100+ hours of knitting, spread over almost three months, it was finished. Seamed. Ends woven in. Washed and laid flat to dry. (no pins – I didn’t want stretch the fabric.) It was lovely. Beautiful color, great sheen, a yarn that shows off the stitch pattern beautifully.

Then I put it on.

Now, this is  the sweater on me., after washing:

Oh dear. Oh, dear oh dear. Granted, I’m a bit shorter than he is, but not by much. Maybe two inches. But this sweater is about ten inches too long and twenty too wide!

Yes, it was the bamboo. As I have learned, it grows when it gets wet, and DOES NOT shrink back. Spray blocking. Steaming. Washing it again. I experimented on the swatches to see if anything at all would make it remember its original size.

The stockinette stitch swatch on the left went through the drier, the cabled one I steamed. The pins don’t hold the fabric down, they only show the original size. As you can see, steaming even made it grow a few millimeters, and a gentle tumbling on low heat made the other one curl up (not a big concern for the sweater, and shrink lengthwise, but not in width.

Now I have a sweater no one in the family can wear. It is huuuuuuge.  [gently banging head on the wall] Nicely patterned and great color, but looks more like a Snuggie than a sweater. I wonder if I have any other choice than to frog it, and make it into a blanket. Or a Snuggie?

Have you worked with bamboo or bamboo-wool blend before? How did it work out? What projects did you find it suitable for?



  1. I’ve only ever made scarves with the bamboo blend or 100 percent bamboo, so those can be variable without worries. Thanks for the warning — shudder! I have made mistakes with drapey fiber (cotton and sea cell) and the lace cardi was a little floppy, but wearable and stayed the same size.

    1. That’s the thing – I expected some variation in size. This wasn’t a closely fitted sweater, some bagginess would have been acceptable. I counted for that when I did the swatching and sizing. But this? *shaking head unstoppaly*

    2. I checked out your flicker page – is that the red bolero that you frogged that you mentioned here? It’s looks so nice, loose and airy, with beautiful lace pattern. I would have worn it!

      By the way, your landscape shawl has amazing colors. Worthy of an inspiring landscape.

      1. Anonymous · ·

        I have been meaning to get a better picture of that landscape shawl for my Ravelry project page on that shawl when I do. That is amazing yarn and that picture sells it short! That’s Claudia’s Handpainted Yarn in Donna’s Favorite. Was my first shawl and still one of my faves.

        Yes that was the red bolero — for someone much larger than me. I goofed in measuring the armholes. I made a nice seaweed cardigan (Interweave Knits) from it. I tried to use it but found I was never wearing it. The curved left and right front overlapped, yet the back was short. Ugh. The lace pattern was nice. That was either lingonberry or fir cone, depending on who’s naming it.

  2. […] I want a knitting clock! I wonder if it could do lace or cables. Maybe I could set it to do  a lace row on complicated exhausting days, a nice thick warm ribbing in the winter, or funky colorwork in time for the spring bloom. Or maybe just count the stitches in sweaters whose only function is to remind me of the time I spend with them. […]

  3. […] a Canadian weekly, which proposes that knitting isn’t just a fun hobby made even more fun by new contemporary yarns and specialized social media, but it’s a style […]

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