Fortunately, I've got just the yarn for the job: delicious cashmere sock yarn I picked up at Loop in London. When I put it on the swift for winding I became skeptical... the colors seemed clumped together and the yarn had sort of a crispy texture (which was hard to feel in the skein because it was twisted up very tightly). Things did not look promising. Silly, silly me - the yarn cake is a delight and the swatches are even better! The colors knit up nicely without a pool in sight. Of course, it remains to be seen if this continues across 130 stitches rather than 30, but I am optimistic.
I had originally earmarked this yarn for the lace cowl from The Purl Bee, but things were not gelling (note that color in this photo is way off). I started it on 6's, which were too big for the job, and in any event I didn't feel the lace showcased the yarn color or texture; it was all a muddle. The yarn is pretty enough to be featured in something simple and elegant, so I returned to the straight-forward cowl in Last Minute Knitted Gifts.
I swatched with needles 5, 4 and 3 (4 and 3 were in one swatch) and then gave them a Eucalan bath. I know it's been said time and time again, but I am a believer: Wash. Your. Swatch. People. The linen-y quality disappeared, the yarn became buttery soft and each stitch plumped up beautifully. The swatches also grew about half a stitch per inch. I decided on the 4's, but didn't have a pair of circular 4's in the right length so I had to order them and wait impatiently.
Now that they've arrived I have a new commuting project and soon a snuggly new cowl!