Monday, 28 March 2011

A tale of two yarns - 2KCBWDAY1


I read a lot of the posts last year but didn't join in with blog week. This year I felt a bit more confident that I would be able to write daily on the topics given so decided to give it a go.

So...two to choose? In preparing for this week I thought a lot about my yarn stash, I panicked a little about it's expansion since summer 2008 when I re-learned how to knit and I thought about the yarns I have used in that time. When I started re-learning I didn’t know all that much about yarn, my mother has always knit as did my grandmother but they never went for the luxury yarns, they couldn’t afford to.

I also didn’t call it yarn, in the UK it’s pretty standard for (uninitiated) people to refer to it all as wool whether or not it’s from a sheep. The LYS nearest to where I grew up is called “The Wool Shop” but very little of what they sell is 100% wool, it’s mostly blends and also rather a lot of 100% acrylic. I must also admit I can’t say yarn without snickering a bit and doing a pirate impression. When looking for yarns to learn with I bought a lot of cheaper, mostly acrylic, yarn and balked at the idea that anyone would spend £5 or more on just one ball of yarn.

Oh how I’ve changed! I still don’t tend to spend more than £5 on a ball of yarn unless we’re taking handdyed sock yarn or lace weight (where you’re getting a fair bit of yarn for your money anyway) but I completely understand why people might spend that and the value of good quality yarn in natural fibres.

That said, I am not a yarn snob. I will knit with acrylic quite happily and believe it has a place in the knitting world, particularly if you don’t want to have to hand wash knits and especially when making baby garments, hand wash only baby yarns I don’t understand! Not being a yarn snob and finding a place for most yarns made choosing a yarn I hadn’t really got on with quite difficult. I didn’t want to go for a novelty yarn, I’ve not really used any (though have some in my stash which was rather an error of judgement when I got over excited by an offer on Readicut) so I had a good think of what has not worked so well for me.

I settled pretty quickly on the yarn used for The Cardigan of Doom. I can’t say it was the wrong yarn for the project, the pattern was designed for this yarn. It was just that the yarn and I just did not get on.

Patons Pompero

knitting 366

Now this yarn looks lovely knit up, it has subtle variations in the colour and whist it’s fluffy there is some stitch definition. It’s soft and warm and washed well (by hand of course! It’s supposedly machine washable at 30 but I’m terrified of machine washing handknits even when the yarn is supposed to be machine washable, see yesterday’s blog post for why!) so really there seems to be nothing wrong with it. I may have had some issues with running out of yarn and miss-crossed cables but that wasn’t the fault of the yarn so what’s the problem?

The problem came when I did (inevitably where my knitting is concerned!) make mistakes. I said the yarn is fluffy, well it is, it’s very fluffy, fuzzy even. Take a closer look:

knitting 368

This yarn is like velcro, seriously. It sticks to itself and is an absolute nightmare to rip out. As well as being velcro-like when attempting to frog note how loosely spun it is, it’s so splitty. It’s a shame really, as I said it’s lovely knit up and once the cardigan was finished I was really pleased with the result but there’s no way I’d knit a garment with it again. If I do come up with something to knit from the 95% of a ball I have left I’ll be doing so with blunt needles in an attempt to get round the splitty-ness.

Now for a beautiful yarn of scrummy gorgeousness. I have a lot of these and it was very difficult to choose. I have become a lover of hand dyed sock yarns in all colours and varieties, I am pretty powerless to resist. This made finding a yarn I adore pretty tricky, how can I possibly choose just one? A good rummage through my stash brought up a yarn that has been in residence for nearly two years, it was a birthday gift in 2009, I still haven’t knit it up because it’s just so beautiful, so soft, so perfect and I’m not sure I can do it justice.

Cariad Yarns Flimstone Bay knitting 346

I’m afraid my picture really doesn’t do justice to just how lovely this yarn is. The colourway of this hank of smooshy gorgeousness is “lush” and it really suits as it is such a rich, lush shade of green with subtle variations into blue-ish greens. I adore the colour, I’ve stated many times my love of green and this is my favourite green yarn. It’s a blend of 80% lambswool, 10% angora and 10% cashmere and is so soft I sit and stroke it and wonder if instead of knitting it I can just keep it as some sort of pet.

It is however not without flaws. According to the band it’s only 280 yards of fingering weight and I’m not entirely sure what to do with that (if I did dare knit it) it’s not enough for a shawl, it’s not enough for socks (not that I’d dare knit them wish such a soft, luxury yarn anyway) leaving me thinking some sort of hat or cowl or perhaps mittens? I just don’t know what to make with it, even if I did dare knit with it.

It also appears to be discontinued, there isn’t much available on-line and their website has disappeared so I assume they have too. I don’t dare fall in love any more by knitting because this is it, I wont get more of this yarn. It also looks absolutely certain to split like mad. Still I love it so and one day I shall come up with something beautiful to knit it into and this will be a happy day indeed.

I must ask myself though what is so great about a yarn I don’t dare knit with? Isn’t that the point of yarn? I think I need to make a goal of finding a project for this yarn and actually knitting it up and giving it the love it deserves instead of tucking it away in my stash where it’s beauty really isn’t appreciated.

Wow, it looks like giving me a subject to write about is dangerous, I babble on even more than I do when I’m just blogging generally about knitting with no direction!

See you tomorrow.


  1. You could make a lacy scarf out of the Cariad yarn - I made this one out of 276m of fingering weight.

    Cariad yarns were something to do with Posh Yarn - I think they were their wholesale venture, but I've not heard of them lately, so it looks like it didn't last.

    I know what you mean about keeping yarn - I had a skein of Knitwitches Seriously Gorgeous Cashmere and Silk that it took me about three years to find the perfect project for - I found it in the end though!

  2. I hope you find a good project for the Cariad Yarn - it's a gorgeous colour and deserves to be shown off!

  3. I fell in love with your picture of the Cariad yarn, only to have my hopes crushed when I saw you say it had been discontinued ;) I totally get why you'd want to keep it as a pet!

  4. I adore that green yarn, hope you find the perfect project for it soon :)

  5. That Cariad yarn is lovely. I'm sure you'll know when you've found the perfect project for it.

  6. I'd say don't use it for the 'not perfect' project just because you've had it a while ~ it will present you some day with the answer.

  7. Until you find your perfect project for your Cariad yarn you can bring it out and squish it. Then you can admire it and squish it some more. It would, of course, be a shame not to be used eventually. It is such a beautiful colour.

  8. I think a little cowl scarf would do nicely...

  9. Wow, so much to read! Here in Germany we say wool to every sort of yarn, too. Hope you will find the right project for your pretty yarn. Sometimes you only have to wait long enough to find the right pattern.
    Looking forward to read from you every day!
    Yours, Julia

  10. The colour of your Cariad yarn is gorgeous, I hope you find the perfect project for it.