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Archive for the ‘Yarn swatches’ Category

Although the item number I cite is from Lacis, this appears to be another Jaggerspun yarn. Since they are sold in neat little packets of 200 yards, making these swatches ideal to tuck in my purse and work on while waiting for a bus, I’ve been concentrating on the yarns I got from Lacis lately. – The review continues:>

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This is one of the yarns I was most “excited” about swatching.  It seems like every other commercial, non-Shetland pattern I have uses Zephyr, and it appears to be a very popular yarn on the internet.  – Click to read more of the review…>

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Although I have it listed in my Swatch Project page as Miranda from Posh Yarns (my supplier), you can also buy this yarn in its undyed state from Great British Yarns.

My first test with this yarn was the cat sniff test. Somewhere on the knittyboard, there was a discussion of the fact that several people had had alpaca yarn preferentially loved and / or totally destroyed by their cat, and that there must be something about the smell that drove the cats wild. So, before I cast on for this swatch, I shoved the ball under Charl’s nose while he sat on my lap. His response? He sniffed, then looked at me, then went back to sleep. So I sniffed it myself. Although this is 70% alpaca, 20% silk, and 10% cashmere, there was much more an odor of silk than anything else. Not a bad silk smell, but definitely I always knew I was working with a silk blend. – The swatch report continues…>

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Come on now, admit it, you thought I’d forgotten all about these swatches, didn’t you??? Well, I have to admit this one sat on my needles for several weeks before I finished it off.

The yarn is item number NP36 from Lacis, “pashmina (cashmere)” from Nepal. I wasn’t really attracted to this yarn at first, as it’s a marled gray color and it just didn’t beg to be knitted up. Maybe that’s why it sat in its plastic bag for so long, half knitted? But I finally dragged it out last week, then gave it a bath last night after the finished swatch had sat for 3 or 4 days, waiting. So what’s my evaluation? – You’ll have to click to learn…>

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Lacis NP39 Super Lamb, 3.25mm needles

Lacis NP39 Super Lamb, 3.25mm needles

When I ordered this yarn, the description I had was “a fine 2-ply laceweight worsted spun yarn made from Merino Lambswool”, but the order confirmation listed it as “Super Lamb 2/24 waxed wool”. Waxed? That was worrisome. It didn’t feel so bad when I took it out of the packet, and it definitely doesn’t feel waxed or otherwise artificially stiffened.

But… this was not a pleasant yarn to work with. I will admit that I have been spoiled by cash-silk and merino lately, but it truly felt like I was working with the string one would truss a roasting chicken with. My other problem, apart from the feel, was how easy it was to split the plies apart. Granted, I’m using KnitPicks Options circulars, so they’re nice and sharp, but it seemed at times like looking cross-eyed at the yarn made the plies separate. The photo here shows that this separation even persists after blocking. Yes, you have to get close to the knitting to see it, but it’s not nice.

Enlarged portion of the Super Lamb swatch

Enlarged portion of the Super Lamb swatch

A wee bit of research (actually, just googling Super Lamb yarn) suggests that this may well be a JaggerSpun yarn; if it is, it’s Superwash, so safe both for washing and for drying. The colors available are lovely, but having worked with this to swatch a sample I think I’d rather try dyeing something else than knitting a whole project with it.

Blocking was quite easy, and while it contracted a little bit while I unpinned it, the swatch did keep its shape fairly well. Comparing the photos of this swatch to any of the others, I think it’s clear that the Super Lamb gives you nice crisp stitches, with no fuzz that might obscure the pattern.

Would I knit with it again? Probably not. I need to enjoy the yarn as it goes through my fingers, and this one didn’t fit that.

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Heirloom Knitting gossamer mohair, 3.25mm needles

Heirloom Knitting gossamer mohair, 3.25mm needles

Now this was a knitting experience! I started the swatch Sunday morning (over a week ago), not truly thinking about the fact that I was getting on an airplane long before I would have the swatch finished. Well, it went with me. Sharon says this very fine yarn “needs careful knitting to feed areas of twist through.” And she knows what she’s talking about.

With most of the yarns I’ve worked with so far, I can keep the knitting bag on the sofa or bed beside me, or in my lap if I’m on a plane. This one, however, I could really only handle easily if the bag was lying on the floor; a combination of gravity and having more distance for the yarn to travel between the ball and my hand helped keep the supertwist down. When it was on my lap, I had a number of times where I had to untwist it, and I know that it “de-fuzzed” sections of the yarn and made it very, very thin.

This gossamer mohair was not an easy yarn to work with, and I certainly wouldn’t hand it to someone new at working with fine yarns. I never had to rip more than 5 stitches, so can’t speak to how it behaves when it’s tinked, but I can’t imagine it would do very well with being ripped. The main problems I ran into with it were its twistiness and its resistance to being looped around the needle at the same tension as most yarns I work with. In fact, if you look at the left-hand edge of the swatch, you can see where it was a bit loose on one of the edge stitches and I’ve got a lovely little loop hanging out into space.

When I finished the swatch, I had a very hard time seeing any pattern at all, even when I pulled it gently apart with my fingers. The unblocked swatch had a lot of body and didn’t drape at all well, and the rows were hard to tell apart, as they were almost overlapping.

Running cold water on it made the swatch almost immediately go limp, I think more quickly than anything else I’ve knitted with so far. But, it also filled the bathroom with the lovely odor of wet goat. If you knit anything large with this yarn, I’d definitely recommend you wash and block it outdoors or in a well-ventilated room! It was quite easy to pin out, and dried within a few hours. After I unpinned it, it relaxed a little bit horizontally. It still very definitely has some body, but it’s not as stiff as I had expected given its pre-washed state.

Would I knit with it again? Probably not, no. The first few rows were not at all enjoyable, and I came very close to just taking it off my list. As we got better acquainted, I had fewer frustrations with it, but it doesn’t top my list of fun yarns to work with. I think it would make a very warm shawl, but it’s got enough stiffness that it wouldn’t be something I would want to cuddle up in for comfort.

I have now been “outed” as a knitter; I ended up sitting next to a colleague from Lyon on the first leg of the return trip, and he was fascinated by the whole process. What is it going to be? What yarn is it? Can I feel it? I also had the gossamer cash-silk and gossamer merino swatches with me in my carry-on, and he thought the cash-silk was just marvelous. The best question, though? “What happens if you break the thread?”

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Like the HK gossamer cash-silk, this yarn was a delight to work with. I knitted this from the ball as well, and had no problems with it at all. The yarn itself is wonderfully smooth even though it’s a 2-ply, and didn’t split at all. The thickness was nice and consistent throughout the yarn, no hair-thin spots that made me cringe.

The yarn seemed to want a slightly larger needle than other gossamer-weight ones, so I used a 3.25mm needle for this swatch. I think, looking at the swatch, that I’d probably stay with that or maybe even go up a little teeny bit in needle size. What do you think?

HK gossamer merino, 3.25mm needles

HK gossamer merino, 3.25mm needles

Blocking was quite easy, but also quite surprising, as the swatch stretched horizontally more than I had expected it to, and just kept on stretching. It “pulled back” a small amount when I unpinned it, and handling the swatch it still has some elasticity to it. This swatch is nice and light, putting it on the back of my hand I can tell there’s something there but it sure doesn’t weigh much. Although it’s a gossamer yarn, I’d be tempted to use this yarn more for a shawl to wear in the office or at Scottish Country Dance evenings than for a special-occasion shawl.

Tomorrow I’ll report on the HK gossamer mohair swatch. Haven’t blocked it yet, but I think for that one I’m going to give you a before-and-after photo.

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