Knitting and Crochet Blog Week – Day 1

Day One: 28th March. A Tale of Two Yarns.
Part of any fibre enthusiast’s hobby is an appreciation of yarn. Choose two yarns that you have either used, are in your stash or which you yearn after and capture what it is you love or loathe about them.

Tips: It is a good idea, if possible, to choose a yarn that you adore and a yarn that just didn’t work for you. You do not need to be critical of any yarn if you do not feel comfortable in doing so, but perhaps you came to realise that one yarn wasn’t suitable for a particular project, if possible you could blog about what you have come to learn about choosing the right yarn, or your love of experimenting with fibres.

As mentioned in a previous post last week, I started knitting BECAUSE OF the yarn… All the fibres and textures and colors were such a draw that I felt the urgent need to learn a new skill so I could justify buying them!  I should probably come up with some sort of new justification because I am compiling yarns quicklier than I can knit them.
One could argue this point, due to my intense dislike of acrylic and most man made fibre yarns, but I am not a yarn snob.  I love all animal fibres and I love them closer to their original form than not… (as we all know by now, I’m not the biggest fan of superwash yarns!).  I’d have to say that one of my favorite yarns in my stash and one that I turn to more and more is the ever loveable, but barely ever loved in that ‘OMG I love this yarn!’ way is Cascade 220!  No, I’m not kidding!  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I have and love yarns in my stash the likes of Handmaiden SeaSilk and 100% cashmere laceweight.  I lust after amazing skeins of Fleece Artist (and own some gorgeous ones too!) and Handmaiden and local indie dyers such as West Coast Fibre Works, but Cascade 220 does such an unparalleled job of being whatever you want it to be. 
When I first started knitting, I made a cabled handbag at a super tight gauge and the cascade held up wonderful!  It gave gorgeous stitch definition in the cables and the colors to choose from were second to none!  I made a gorgeous grey slouchy beret held together with a skein of Rowan’s Kid Silk Haze and I can’t imagine what a better yarn would have been to get that look! 
And most recently I bought 880yards of Cascade 220 Heathers in a gorgeous blue/green to make the Guernsey Wrap.  (picture borrowed from I knit this at a VERY loose guage (size US9) and blocked it to within an inch of it’s life and it has the most gorgeous drape and flow!  The stitches are perfectly defined while still giving a lovely hand!
There are many gorgeous yarns on the market and I do own a lot of them, but I adore the consistency and versatility of the Cascade 220!  Plus, at around $8CDN a skein, it’s an excellent, price savvy yarn to boot!
Ironically, the yarn which I don’t particularly care for so much is on the high end, impossible to get end of the scale.  Where Cascade is carried in hundreds of colors in almost every yarn store in the country, Wollmeise is only available from one or two online stores and a brick and mortar store in Germany!  The draw of this yarn for me (because obviously there’s always a draw if you’ve bought the yarn) is the color combinations and her dyeing technique. 
She somehow manages to get the most vibrant and intriguing colors and then is able to consistently recreate them!  The problem with this yarn for me is many-fold.  First, it’s superwash and I’m not a fan of superwash yarns.  For those that don’t follow this blog (and why aren’t you??), I find superwash yarns just a little too far away from the sheep.  Superwash uses chemicals and processes that melt or burn off the scales of the yarn (just like the scales of your hair), meaning that when the finished item is washed, it doesn’t felt because instead of the scales being engaged, they’re flattened off so that they can’t interlock with one another… It’s an environmentally shoddy process that changes the genetic structure of the yarn.  I don’t like it…
Superwash yarn is not ideal for lace knitting.  Lace knitting needs to be blocked and superwash yarn, while being easy to block, doesn’t hold it’s shape (consider that the fibres are all now smooth and slippery… there’s no tooth there to hold it in shape) and it sort of (in my experience), shrinks back into it’s unblocked shape rather quickly.
That’s one of the things that I don’t like about the Wollmeise yarn.  I have knit lace out of it, and while it looked absolutely gorgeous at first, it’s now a limp, unshapely mess that I don’t even care to reblock…
It’s also a VERY twisty yarn… at 10 plies in a fingering weight, it’s got one of the tightest twists on the market.  Ideal for sock knitting or so I’ve heard, it feels a bit like cotton in your hand as you knit it.  The lastly thing that I don’t care for and it’s not exclusive to Wollmeise is the high demand… not because people are demanding it to knit with, but because it’s become a bit of a commodity in the knitting world, which means that if you have the perfect project in mind for that perfect color and you’re (I’m) willing to overlook all the things that make it less than my ideal yarn, you can’t just go out and buy what you need.  You have to hunt and beg and trade and finagle you way into owning it, because that demand is caused by people hoarding it, knowing it’s value to the few that eventually want to knit with it.  I have two skeins in my stash currently, one of which I overdyed myself to get a nicer color and while I originally had plans for both, the negatives are far outweighing the positives, when I have a stash ful of the most gorgeous yarn to knit with… Eventually the right project will come along and those yarns too shall shine, but in the grand scheme of things, they may wait until I haven’t an inch left of anything to knit with…
THIS IS A TINY FRACTION! (taken over a year ago… and exponentially larger now…)

3 thoughts on “Knitting and Crochet Blog Week – Day 1

  1. I think some of that stash has moved over into my stash (I'm looking at you, blue Mal Worsted!). I love 220 as well – the old Patons Classic Wool was actually nicer, but they don't make it the same way anymore so Cascade has taken its place for me… When we have our yarn store, we need to stock all the colours! :)PS: How did I not see this K&C week thing before today? I think I'm going to take part too! 🙂

  2. Cascade 220 is definitely an amazing workhorse yarn. I love felted bags and the 220 is ideal for this, it doesn't wash out it's color and felts wonderfully. It is also great for cables- another of my favorite techniques.I actually don't like wollmeise yarn. The colors are gorgeous I have to give you that. I don;t like the feel of it when I knit though, and I don't like the feel when wearing it.

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