Cashmere—Ridiculously Soft yet Amazingly Strong

Galina Khmeleva’s Accordion Scarf, from the May/June 2012 issue of PieceWork.

This is the cashmere time of year. It’s gray and harsh outside, and we could all use a splash of color and something soft to snuggle into to keep the winter blues away. Cashmere is beautiful to work with and even better to wear, the upscale cousin of your favorite flannel shirt in my opinion. In addition to being delightfully downy, cashmere is one of the best natural insulators, a perfect combination for winter wear.

While this fiber is often considered a luxury, it’s something we should all indulge in for knitting purposes. There’s something about using a ridiculously soft yet amazingly strong yarn that is immensely satisfying. And if said yarn is in a bold statement color, all the better!

PieceWork’s new kit, Galina A. Khmeleva’s Accordion Scarf, features three skeins of hand-dyed cashmere yarn from Jade Sapphire. The color way is “Seeing Red,” a beautifully rich tone seemingly designed to put winter gray in its place. The lace patterning makes “a checkerboard motif that creates the effect of sun shining through a window with a lace curtain,” ideal for these dreary sunless days.

This scarf pattern showcases Orenburg lace, which is one of the most well-known Russian knitting traditions. Orenburg lace shawls are sometimes called “wedding ring shawls” because they are so thin and light that one can be pulled through a wedding ring. It’s amazing to me that a yarn and pattern that are so thin and fine can also be so strong and warm, but that combination is the magic of cashmere and lace.

PieceWork is a similar blend of patterns and stories, coming together to create something substantial and useful and fun. The issue in this kit, May/June 2012, is all about lace, its history and evolution, and is full of lace patterns designed to explain and complement this rich lacy history.

It is indeed the time of year for cashmere, bold and warm, delicate yet strong. Check out the kit, and get yourself knitting!