Idea Log: Shrunken crewneck Charles

Idea Log: Shrunken crewneck Charles

I mentioned in my Queue Check last week that I only expect to knit one more sweater this year, and I really want to get it right, in terms of feeding what I’m yearning for while also filling a legitimate gap in my sweater collection, which means a non-wool pullover, and I’m really really really wanting navy. A feeling that was compounded yesterday by seeing (once again) that pic of Sofia Coppola in her perfectly plain navy sweater on my forever mood board. But the sweater I can’t get out of my head is Michele Wang’s Charles, which I’ve gone on about how many times since it published last year? That fixation is meaningful, and I want to heed it, and while I can make a case for adding an aran-weight wool turtleneck to my closet to replace the sad old storebought one currently playing that role, it’s by no means by most pressing need at the moment. Do you know about L’Envers? It’s a small-batch sweater company in France — a wonderful slow-fashion brand worth knowing about — and if I weren’t a knitter, they’d be getting some of my money. (They might anyway, at some point.) The other day on Instagram, they posted a sweater that brought ol’ Charles to mind again, their Jane & Serge jumper. Although I like it even better in ivory, I’ve well established that I do not need any more ivory sweaters! So I’m thinking about knitting Charles at a lighter gauge, scaling down the silhouette to more like my aran-gansey (not nearly as long as the L’Envers one), and knitting it in a blend of some kind.

This is the always challenge for me: What I enjoy knitting is more fanciful, shall we say, than what I enjoy wearing, but I think this idea would satisfy both. Still, I’m not quite ready to commit. It could be another fisherman sweater in navy, which would also be Sofia approved, if you know what I mean, or a navy version of my aran-gansey, or a navy-and-black marlisle sweater, which I’m also never not thinking about. But I need to find the perfect yarn: dk or light worsted weight, a nice deep dark navy, and not 100% wool. Which is even harder than just finding a nice deep dark navy wool, which is hard enough. (A vexation for many of us, I know, and I’ve promised a roundup!) If you have yarn suggestions that meet all of those criteria, please let me know! I’ve got a decision to make.

(And a ball of Navia Bummull headed my way for a round of speed dating …)

p.s. If you’re wondering, I promise I’ll have Marlisle KAL prize winners for you very soon! 


PREVIOUSLY in Idea Log: Carbeth coat

50 thoughts on “Idea Log: Shrunken crewneck Charles

  1. I totally follow you about L’Envers, and am currently knitting a Morginn in Gilliatt Caramel to have my own Claude cardigan …
    About a wool blend yarn, I second the proposition of BC Garn Bio-Balance, and also suggest Retrosaria Mungo. I’m not sure there is a perfect navy blue, but there is a dark blue gray that might do the trick.
    And what about a 100% cotton sweater with one of the Quince’s yarn ?

    • I have a ball of the dark blue heather Mungo and keep reaching for it, trying to decide what it wants to be. I totally love it, and might wind up using it for my husband at some point. But it’s not quite the dark navy sweater I have in mind here.

    • Re a 100% cotton option, I have a heavily cabled 100% cotton sweater and it looks great but it’s not so pleasant to wear. I feel like cables really emphasize the ropiness of cotton, so a blend seems like the better bet. But I’m not 100% convinced I’m right about that, and am curious about all the cotton whatnot at Quince, so I should take another look.

  2. Holst Garn has a nice cotton/wool blend called Coast. It’s another light fingering weight, but held double should be about a dk weight. And their color no. 44, dark navy, is indeed a DARK navy (using it in a wip I have on my needles). I’ve used Coast for colorwork and some lace, but just did a check on Ravelry for projects that used it for cables, and it works up nicely in that as well.

    • I was going to mention Coast as well. I used it for my Logalong inspired summer top this summer, knitting it a a single on a size three needle. At my LYS, the Yarnery in St Paul, they had large swatches knit with the yarn doubled to produce a dk, and trippled as an aran, and they all looked good. It comes in something like 70 colors, some of which are closely related so that you can get a very subtle marl: that very dark navy paired with black would be a true midnight. I wore my lightweight top when it was 80, if doubled it would be a perfect winter weight for people who live in temperate climates. It should also be noted that the price is very very reasonable for a very high quality yarn.

        • Living in Brisbane, Australia I am always on the lookout for a good wool blend also. I have tried Holst Garn Coast a few times as their colours are divine but have been disappointed at the durability of the final product. I have held it single as well as double and have had issues with the yarn breaking around armholes and neckline within one or two wears in both cases. I’ve also found that if used for long seams the seaming threads tend to break after a wear or two also. I have tried to find people that have had a similar experience with it on Ravelry without much luck because I really want to love it! My only success with Coast has been holding it with a strand of mohair for durability. It has been such a shame but I have gone off it as I am tired of the constant repairs required with it. I would love to know if someone has had more success with it!

          • Hm, thank you for that feedback. It’s interesting that you haven’t been able to find anyone else with the same experience. I take it you don’t generally find yourself harder on any other yarns than other people are?

  3. I would be wary of doing cables in a non-animal fiber yarn, cotton isn’t sticky enough to hold them neatly you know? what’s wrong w balance? lol

    • Cotton can hold cables beautifully if it’s not a shiny/slippery cotton (I have a heavily cabled cotton sweater) so I’m looking for a blend that will do the job. I’d totally use Balance but the navy isn’t navy enough for me — at least, not based on the photo on the website. I should really get a proper color card …

    • No, I wouldnt say I’m any harder on yarns. The yarn breaks easily when you pull it apart but I have never had it break while knitting with it. It’s the durability of the finished product I’ve had trouble with unfortunately. Thanks for writing a fantastic blog Karen. :)

  4. How about Brown Sheep Wool Cotton Fleece or Cotton Fine? The yarn is 80% cotton and 20%wool.

  5. Your comment, “What I enjoy knitting is more fanciful, shall we say, than what I enjoy wearing” strikes a chord with me. I love the sweaters I’ve knit, but sometimes I’m like, “What do they actually go with?” For example, I have a good amount of brown in my wardrobe, but not the same tone of brown that I’ve recently knit. This is where considering my closet within the context of Slow Fashion October really comes into play. And Charles? Absolutely!

    • Yeah, I’ve made that mistake more than once — knitting something that seemed (and was) great on its own but was not compatible with the rest of my clothes or how I actually dress. This sweater (and the L’Envers one) is so stunning, and I would think it was nothing but amazing on anyone but myself. But I have that slight hesitation that, on me, I might feel like I was wearing a sweater decorated with a wallpaper border.

      • Yes! I third this! I love knitting cables and interesting textures and laces but really prefer wearing much simpler sweaters. I’ve finally reconciled myself to a shaker rib pullover and a light stockinette sweater that are things I will actually wear but the actual knitting is driving me batty and I keep putting my yarn down to scroll Ravelry for more “interesting” patterns. Sigh…

  6. I’m actually working on a Charles, by which I mean I pick it up here and there to work on it when I have a few moments to give it the attention it deserves. I’m using Juniper Moon Farm’s “Moonshine,” a light worsted, which is a 40/40/20 blend of wool, alpaca, and silk, so it has a smidge of sheen. However, their super-dark navy-ish blue is hard to find. (I wish I’d bought more than a hat’s worth when I did find that blue.)

    I’m also scaling mine down, but I’m keeping the turtleneck. Moonshine is soft, soft, soft, so the t-neck won’t be scratchy. I’d really wanted to use Argyle Sheep’s “Zephyr DK,” which is 55/45 wool and cotton, but their colors are more muted, and I’m having a hard time seeing Charles in anything other than deep, rich colors.

  7. If you’re considering a marled sweater and willing to hold two lighter weight yarns together, couldn’t one of them be 100% wool and the other cotton or a cotton blend of some kind? That might give you more options for the true navy you are looking for.

  8. I am knitting with Berrocco Fiora right now and it is working beautifully. It is a dk blend of cotton, viscose and some alpaca and wool. Check out Bluebonnet by Martha Wissing to see the navy.

  9. Two more yarn ideas from this side of the ocean:

    1) Magasin Duett Eco Wool Cotton (; 55% Merino, 45% Cotton, with a few different shades of blue available, including one that’s at least called French Navy!

    I made a baby sweater in this yarn earlier this year and loved knitting with it (and I’m usually one to go for the really rustic wools). Held double I think it might work up well into a DK. Also, Petra, the owner of the yarn store & yarn brand, is doing really wonderful work.

    2) CaMaRose Oekologisk Sommeruld (; 70% Merino, 30% Cotton, with a deep dark blue called “Midnatsblå”. Again, a fingering weight, but held double it might work well.

    From their websites, it didn’t look as if they had US-based stockists, but it might be worth an email if any of those shades of blue would work for you!

  10. This is probably dangerous territory, but your contemplations over what direction to take your navy sweater idea reminded me of something. Have you ever been pointed in the direction of Flamborough Marine? It is a group of knitters on the East Yorkshire Coast, not far away from where I live, who recreate the east coast fishing village Ganseys to sell, but also sell Guernsey weight yarn (a real rarity) and it comes in a brilliant navy – I think it’s only 100% wool, however. They sell patterns by way of kits and a book, too.

    If you are really struggling to decide on a pattern, you might find some inspiration amongst the various Ganseys on their website. The Gansey history is fascinating, and it’s heartwarming to know that a group of knitters are keeping the knowledge and culture alive.

    I look forward to seeing the results of your cotton wool blend search!

  11. While I prefer a proper wool, my favorite wool blend yarn, in which I will likely someday knit a replacement for my favorite storebought sweatshirt, is Magpie Fibers Solstice. It’s a DK weight 50/25/25 Wool/Cotton/Silk blend that knits up at more of a light worsted gauge. The colors are a bit on the light side though.

  12. Pingback: How to make a visual closet inventory | Fringe Association

  13. Pingback: Queue Check — March 2019: A whole new queue - Fringe Association

Comments are closed.