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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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I had a productive Saturday, this past weekend:  finished off rows 3-56 of the swatch I was knitting in HK Gossamer cash-silk, and completely knitted a swatch in the HK gossamer merino.   That one is for tomorrow, today is for the cash-silk.  Here’s the photo: 

HK gossamer cash-silk, 2.75mm needles

HK gossamer cash-silk, 2.75mm needles

When I started knitting with the cash-silk, I really didn’t enjoy it.  It seemed like it was hugging the needles firmly and didn’t want to relax around them at all.  As I worked with it more, though, it got easier to move on the needle,  so it may have been how I was tensioning it.  Or, I just got used to it, one of the two.  I knitted directly from the 25g ball it was wound into,  and had no problems.  No kinking, no super-twisting, all a consistent thickness. this yarn was delightful to have running through my hands.  The yarn is nice and soft, and I could barely tell it was going through my fingers.  Even though it’s a 2-ply, it’s nicely twisted so that the plies don’t separate;  no splitting for this yarn.   I used 2.75mm needles, and would stick with these or maybe 2.5mm.

As with all the other swatches, my blocking consists of running water over it and compressing the wet swatch until it’s completely saturated, then rolling it in a towel and squeezing the excess water out of it.  The cash-silk mixture resists being saturated, much more so than the other yarns I’ve worked with so far.  And, when it came out of the towel, it was nearly dry in a number of spots.  I think projects worked with this yarn will need to be soaked for a while to make sure they’re completely wet.  I think I could have blocked this more assertively, but it handled well for me.

As I said in an earlier post, I had to rip out the first 11 rows of my first swatch with the cash-silk.  I re-used the same yarn, and looking at it right up close I can’t tell which rows were with the previously-knitted yarn, and which ones were with “new” yarn.  So it seems to handle being ripped fairly well.   

After blocking, the fabric has a nice soft drape, and when I put it over the back of my hand it’s as if it was weightless.  Absolutely nothing there!  This is a yarn I would definitely use for a very-special-occasion project;  a christening or wedding shawl, or one designed to absolutely knock people’s socks off.

In other swatch-related news, I also spent some time Saturday to make a list of all the lace-weight yarns I have, and I’ve now posted it on my Swatch Project page.  I knew I had a fair number of them, but I’d never actually counted them all up.  It’s a wee bit embarrassing…

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