Cottons: three mini yarn reviews

Summer seems to have finally arrived in the UK! With the warmer weather the challenge for me has always been to find something nice and light to knit with. Usually this means cotton for me, although I tend to be quite fussy!

I’ve asked Alli to weigh in with me on her thoughts about cotton, as she’s knit with quite a lot of it lately too.  We reviewed three different cottons – Rowan Handknit Cotton, Blue Sky Alpacas Skinny Cotton, and Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Cotton. We’d love to hear what others you might be working with this summer. A few others have crossed our desks too, so hopefully we’ll have a follow up review of those a little later on this summer.

Rowan Handknit Cotton comes in a wide assortment of colours

Yarn: Rowan Handknit Cotton

Weight: Worsted

Yardage: 93yds (85m)/50g ball

Fibre: 100% cotton

Care: Machine washable

Louise: I knit a baby cardigan and hat for my son, as well as a kids sweater and his baby blanket. The stitch definition is excellent and I found that it knit up very easily. Unfortunately when I washed the items they seemed to turn to cardboard when knit to the gauge on the ballband! Even though I’m a loose knitter, I did find it a bit like knitting with kitchen string.

That being said, it’s a very practical yarn so I would probably knit with it again. Only this time I would knit it at a slightly looser gauge than the ball band for baby blankets – my son’s loosely-knit baby blanket worked well. I do think the yarn is good for folks who are averse to wool. I think it would suit Song of the Sea. Something smooth. The Ice Storm Cowl would look good in this yarn too.

Munchkin blanket WIP

Alli’s baby blanket WIP

Alli: I also knit a baby blanket with this yarn. Miles and miles of garter stitch, but the tension looked lovely. Since it was a baby blanket, I confess to not paying too much attention to the gauge required! It might be that I was knitting a bit looser than required as I found the blanket lovely and soft, even after washing. It’s also held up well and I’ve heard from the recipient that it is their favourite blanket for tucking in the buggy, or even swaddling due to it being nice and pliable.

One of the things that really bug me about working with cotton are when it is kind of splitty, and even though this yarn is a 10-ply, I didn’t experience any splittiness. I think the Careen Scarf would be fab in this yarn, or Denim Sky. I know the weight of yarn is different but with the range of colours available you could create your own gradient or ombré effect and have a play with the size.

Blue Sky Alpacas Skinny Cotton

Blue Sky Alpacas Skinny Cotton

Yarn: Blue Sky Alpacas Skinny Cotton

Weight: DK/sportweight

Yardage: 150yds (137m)/65g hank

Fibre: 100% organic cotton

Care: Hand wash or dry clean

Louise: I’ve got to confess to not actually having knit a full project with this yarn, but I’ve done a lot of swatching with it! I found it really soft, both in the hand and knit up. It has good stitch definition but I think it would be better for stocking stitch and knit/purl textures rather than cables because of the cotton not having a lot of stretch.

I enjoyed knitting with the yarn but as I knit loose, I didn’t have any splitting problems, which I suspect it will do. I can see that for an average or tighter knitter that the yarn might split. That being said, I like a reasonably loose ply for cotton yarns to help keep it soft after washing.

I’ve actually included this yarn as an option for a pattern in my forth-coming book. I love the grown-up hot-summer colours that make me think of spices and sandy deserts. The brights are nice, but these sophisticated shades are brilliant. I think Stay Awhile is particularly suited to this yarn. The colour palette makes it great for stripes so I’d also suggest it for a summer-weight Foolproof.

It’d also be lovely for a single-colour Fresco. I did swatch it and it’s lovely; I just prefer semi-solids personally. But if you love solids, it works for this design. It’d be a great wrap for a summer evening.

The Botanica Medallion from Vogue Knitting - knit in BSA Skinny Cotton

The BSA Skinny Cotton has fantastic definition on textured stitches

Alli: When I first came back to knitting this was one of the first yarns that I ever knit with, and on a reasonably large, complicated project! I definitely experienced a LOT of splittiness with this yarn, which is probably why I’m not as fond of it as Louise. I suspect I was knitting a lot tighter back then, so I’d be willing to give it the benefit of the doubt and try it again. I do love the project I knit with it thought – it was a lot of different textures of stitch patterns and I think the yarn showed them off to full effect! I’ve worn the project loads since, and six years on, it’s still going strong.

I agree with Louise that the yarn would be fantastic for stripes, so it would be nice to try it out on Another Way and have a good play, but I also think it would be perfect for a light and airy Spice of Life Cowl.

Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Cotton

Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Cotton

Yarn: Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Cotton

Weight: Worsted

Yardage: 150yds (137m)/100g hank

Fibre: 100% organic cotton

Care: Hand wash or dry clean

Louise: This is the yarn I used to knit my Lazy Summer Scarf. It was very soft in the hand, as well as knit up and I stayed nice and soft and fuzzy after washing. I wouldn’t use this for anything hard-wearing because of the nature of the yarn, but it feels soooo great. I think it’s best for scarves and shawls. The stitch definition was OK. I buy this yarn for the softness, not the stitch definition! It has a slight halo too, which is nice and unusual from a cotton yarn.

It was extremely nice to knit with, non-splitty. I’d have to say that this is probably my favourite cotton for the knitting experience. A wool-allergic knitter once told me that she’s used this yarn held treble to make a super-bulky yarn for winter, so I can see Rivulet or Riverbed working this way. I love this yarn for the grown up colours; a lot of cotton yarns have very young colour palettes. I’ve a simple cabled cowl designed for the book and I’d love to see it knitted in this yarn. Hmm…

Close up of Louise's Lazy Summer Scarf

Close up of Louise’s Lazy Summer Scarf

Alli: I agree with Louise that this is a scrumptious cotton yarn to work with! So floofy and soft! I knit a simple, garter stitch baby blanket with it, held double using 10mm needles and it created a gorgeous and cushy fabric. It was definitely a delight and I was almost sorry to finish the project! There were no splitty issues with this yarn, and I agree about the halo.

I have a bit of this yarn in my stash still for knitting a small, lacey cardigan/shrug project, but I’ve been hesitating because I’m not sure how well it will stand the test of time. It’s a great yarn for blankets though, and I think having a fun play with scale and colour on Louise’s Inspiration Blanket would be a terrific pairing.

Hopefully these mini reviews provided a little inspiration for your summer knitting! We’ve got a few more to review in the coming weeks, including another favourite, Spud & Chloe Sweater. Check back with us in a few weeks for that! 

4 thoughts on “Cottons: three mini yarn reviews

  1. I am making dd2 a sloppy jumper in Rowan denim. Not as soft ad the handknit from Rowan but working up fine and looking good. I am making it bigger so it lasts longer. Consequently it is huge.

  2. Pingback: Summer holiday knitting: project planning | INSPIRATION KNITS

  3. Pingback: Knit Play Colour: Warm Hearted | INSPIRATION KNITS

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