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Cashmere: A Touch of Luxury

Some rainbow coming from the fair!
Some vision of world Cashmere!

- Emily Dickinson

LB Cashmere Knit Arm WarmersI've come to cashmere late in my life. My high school wardrobe consisted of flannel shirts, blue jeans, and overalls --no twin sets, no cashmere sweaters, just hooded sweatshirts. It's my oldest daughter, Meera, who has tried to teach me about cashmere and helped me understand her reverence for it. For years she's hunted down old cashmere sweaters, salvaging them; she resizes and remakes them into her own creations. Cashmere is the top fiber for my girl.

So when Lion Brand announced its new LB Collection Cashmere, a 100% cashmere yarn, I knew I had to try it. I had to experience first hand as a knitter and as Meera's mother, what makes this wool -- spun from the second undercoat of goats -- elevated above all others, precious and prized.

The three skeins of LB Collection Cashmere I ordered sat for a long time in their mailing box. Then I bought a special basket for them, one lined with a striped fabric matching the yarn's colors and just big enough to hold the dainty skeins. After reading the ball band, I put the correct size needles in with the yarn. Every day I admired my cashmere stash, the still life in my basket, but I couldn't seem to start knitting anything with it.

What was my reluctance?

I wanted the perfect project.

What would be special enough for my treasured cashmere?

"Something you wear close to your skin," advised Meera.

Like many Americans, we are feeling the economic pinch here, so to keep our fuel costs down, our house is even cooler than last winter. My downstairs studio is very chilly, frosty even. I always wear a little scarf and a pair of wristers when I'm working there. My neck and hands seemed great choices for a close encounter with cashmere, and a scarf and wristers was the twin set I knew I would wear.

I decided to start with the scarf, but then I grew hesitant again. This is cashmere, I kept reminding myself. What pattern was worthy of this yarn? A half dozen or so too complicated ideas later, I was frustrated.

I was missing the point of knitting with cashmere: the enjoyment. Admiring the scarf my friend Anne wore the other day caused me to wonder, why not make a one like hers. A Christmas gift knit by her sister-in-law, it's the simplest of scarves with an elegance created by the character and quality of the yarn. Definitely a one skein project, it was slender and just long enough to tie.

Casting on 21 stitches on size 6 needles, I started an uncomplicated two row pattern. Row one: knit 5, purl 11, and knit 5. Row two: knit one, knit 2 together, yarn over, knit 15, knit 2 together, yarn over, knit 1. Repeating those two rows until there was about 16 inches of cashmere left, I delighted in each stitch and got to know the cashmere on my needles. Binding off, I was tempted to keep my finished scarf on display. But Meera had trained me well. A cashmere scarf should not be a museum piece. Wrapping it around my neck, I almost purred.

Anxious for my matching wristers, I didn't hesitate beginning them. Choosing an uncomplicated pattern, they were a dream to knit in cashmere. And I'm happy to report back there's lush new warmth here in my studio now. My cold writer's twin set has me singing praises to the cashmere goats. Like daughter, like mother.

Cashmere's sublime softness is a knitterly balm. Give it a try. You might even want to stretch your project out. Draw out this cashmere time. Relish it. Go ahead. Put your needles down, put your feet up. Brew yourself a cup of rich coffee, add cream if you like. Have a small square of some heart healthy dark chocolate. And while you sip and savor, admire your work in progress, your adventure with luxury. Hold it, rub it gently across your hands, let it rest on your neck. Or not. Maybe for you, it's too hard prolonging the wait for your cashmere scarf. No matter. Indulge yourself a little this year. Take a vacation to Cashmere. And don't forget your knitting needles.

For our LB Collection Cashmere Arm Warmers pattern, click here.

For more essays by Michelle Edwards, click here.

Authored by

Michelle Edwards is the author/illustrator of A KNITTER'S HOME COMPANION and many award-winning children's books including CHICKEN MAN and STINKY STERN FOREVER. In her spare time, Michelle enjoys talking about books in schools throughout the US and beyond. Her newest book, Room for the Baby, will be available from Random House in Fall 2012. Visit Michelle Edwards at her website or on Facebook.
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