I’m so excited to publish two new cowl patterns next week that I need to write about them this weekend before I burst. So, I thought I’d share a review of the yarns I’ve used, complete with tantalising tiny snippets of how they look knitted up – in my new designs.
May I introduce some old favourites of mine and some yarns I hadn’t used before:
Fyberspates Scrumptious 4ply/sport 45% silk 55% superwash merino, 365m/399yds per 100g skein: Scrumptious is as wonderful as the name suggests; a beautiful yarn with a silken sheen. The gentle twist is just enough to make it easy to knit but without losing its satin-like feel. I love physically knitting with it because it is so gorgeous to feel in the hands and the colours sing. This was my first choice for these pieces because I knew it would produce a fabulous, drapy fabric. I like setting the sophistication of the yarn against the simplicity of garter stitch. The great yardage more than makes up for the spend involved in buying yarn with that delicious silk content.
Spud & Chloe Sweater 55% super wash wool 45% organic cotton 146m/160yds per 100g: I chose this yarn for its fantastic stitch definition. Reverse “ticking” stripes still look super-sharp and the bold colours make me smile. I worked at 18 sts per 10cm/4″ to make a nice soft fabric, but I think it would be great at 16sts – even more floppy and casual. Going up to 20sts would make it more structured and formal looking but with the cotton content I find it a bit hard on my hands to work it tighter. It’s a great yarn for knitting mens and children’s cowls, with a great range of colours suitable for all, with lots of neutrals to set them against. It’s perfect for sensitive skin – no-one can complain this is itchy and it’s organic too. It has the wool warmth with cotton’s smooth softness.
Sometimes I wish the yardage was better but for these patterns it works – a snug cowl takes 2 skeins and a long one 3. I use this yarn so often I have plenty leftovers for striping in a stash bust; I imagined other fans would be in the same situation.
Blue Sky Alpacas Suri Merino 60% baby suri alpaca 40% merino, 150m/164yds per 100g skein: a true luxury yarn but after just one project I would buy it again and hang the expense. The long cowl I’ve made will keep out the iciest wind, and speaking as someone who feels the slightest breeze this is high praise. Somehow it manages to maintain good stitch definition despite its fuzzy halo. The nature of any single-spun yarn is that it tends to be a bit splitty but it’s easy to work with a little care in the simple garter stitch of these cowls. Personally, I think it’s worth it for such a spectacular result. I’d knit with this again any day, but I feel the cold!
Fyberspates Scrumptious Aran 45% silk 55% superwash merino, 165m/180yds per 100g skein: I’ve admired this yarn for a while. Despite being substantial in weight, the fabric it produces molds to the body amazingly well as the silky yarn slides so easily within the stitches. The aran-weight snug cowl sample sits down in a beautiful arc on the shoulders without any encouragement. It could just be thrown on and would look perfect. With much the same colour palette as the 4ply/sport, I am already eyeing up the jewel-like nuggets of leftovers sitting on my desk and considering what I can stripe them with in another cowl – something matt, to highlight their vibrant sheen.
Quince & Co Chickadee 100% wool 166m/181yds per 50g skein: The colours are just so elegant. Trying to choose three was easy and difficult; easy because the colours went together so well that I could pick up almost any three, but difficult because it meant I had to put some back. I confess some skeins of a soft bird’s egg blue are now sitting in stash because I couldn’t leave them behind. The twist and 100% wool springiness makes it incredibly easy to knit, with really good stitch definition. The fabric is light, with enough substance to be really quite sculptural. It has amazing yardage but I did find I used more than I thought I would, so if I was using it as a substitute for something less bouncy I’d make sure I had plenty just in case. It’s a nice strong yarn without the easy breakage problem that can be the trade off with high yardage. I’m looking forward to using this again – it would be perfect for a really clean, uncluttered, classic sweater with good detailing.
Shilasdair Handspun 100% baby camel 200yds/182m per 100g skein: This was my personal “custom” project. The above yarns all have a special worksheet in one or other of the new patterns so that knitters can make a specific design if they wish, except this. This yarn was my opportunity to play around with stripes – my stash-bust project. This is the softest, cuddliest stuff but about half the price of cashmere. I think a lot of people would be pushed to tell the difference. The handspun quality does mean it has thick and thin places, but this is why people buy handspun and not a downside – I had no breakages while working. Shilasdair’s yarns are natural dyed and I loved the boldness of these reds, partly because they are not what people think of with natural dyes. I have a dreadful weakness for Shilasdair because the colour palette and yarn bases are simply gorgeous. Leaving the screaming scarlet aside, their colours have a subtlety that synthetic dyes rarely match. The black in the photo is in reality a deep reddish off-black, with life to it.
Finally, if you’re wondering why I’m so enthusiastic about all these yarns it’s because if I start working with a yarn and I hate it, it simply doesn’t make it into a sample. If I hate it, you’d hate it, and that’s no good for anyone.