Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What to Knit With and What Not

I recently purchased two different yarns from Knit Picks to make some things for new babies in my life. Since one baby is in Florida and the other in Oklahoma, I went for cottons. The first one I tried is their Simply Cotton Worsted. It’s a worsted weight organic cotton (the dyes aren’t organic, but the cotton itself is) that comes in a whole bunch of lovely bright yummy heathered colours that look way better in person than online (and they look pretty cute online.)
It currently sells for $4.49-$5.99 for 164yard/100 gram balls. I decided to make an entrelac baby blanket out of this yarn. I was worried about how my fingers would handle working on such a big project. We’ve all been there: the skin rubbed sore, unyielding, stiff cotton that sticks to the needles (stiff, that is, until you wash it when it suddenly turns to jelly and grows three sizes!) But this was not the case. As anyone who has ever bought an organic cotton garment knows, organic cotton is sooooo soft. And it gets softer the more you wash it. This yarn is soft! And not only is it soft, but it’s actually nice to knit with. It’s smoother than most other cottons I’ve knit with, there was almost no pilling or fuzzing (again, pretty unusual with a plied, unmercerized cotton like this!) and it gets really nice stitch definition. I thing cables would look great with this yarn. I hand washed and blocked my blanket. It might have grown a bit. I’m not entirely sure since I didn’t really measure or do a gauge. It’s a blanket. It’s blanket sized. But I can tell you that it didn’t do the giant stretchy thing cotton sometimes does. It held up its shape pretty well. Here is the finished product, after it was washed and blocked (and folded.)
Take into consideration, though, that I did entrelac. It tends to add structure to the fabric, just by the way you knit it. If I was doing a sweater with this yarn (which I really want to do. I am in LOVE with the golden heather colour in the picture!) I would definitely wash and dry my swatches carefully before knitting, but we should all be doing this anyway. I haven’t put it in the dryer yet, but based on how little it fuzzed when I was knitting it and lugging it around and kicking my cat off of it, I think it would do well. Don’t dry it on high and I think it would be fine. To sum up, I think it’s a great value for the money, it’s soft but strong, has great stitch definition, it comes in scrumptious colours, and seems to wash with almost no pilling, which makes me think it’s durable, too. I think it’s perfect as an alternate to wool, soft against baby’s skin (or mine!) and since it’s organic, it’s a more eco-friendly choice. I will use it again (I’m actually working on a second blanket out of different colours!), and I think Knit Picks should expand this yarn into other weights. I’d like to see it in DK at the least. I give this yarn 4.5 out of 5 (if the dyes were low eco impact I might give it 5!) The second yarn was Shine Worsted, which is 60% pima cotton and 40% modal, which is a fibre made from beech wood.
This yarn was more expensive than Simply Cotton, running at $2.99 for a 75yard/100 gram ball so I expected a bit more of it. At first touch it was very soft. Softer than the Simply cotton. It had a nice sheen to it and the colour was rich and bright. But it didn’t give that same feeling of strength and durability that the other yarn did. I wanted to make a strawberry sleep sack out of this yarn, but when I started knitting, I noticed very quickly that this yarn was going to be a bit difficult. It was splitty, it fuzzed and pilled like crazy, it didn’t have much give. I felt like it was working against me, not with me. Having to tink back was a nightmare and when I realized the project and the yarn were not going to work well together and frogged the whole thing, I was very disappointed at how worn and fuzzy the yarn looked. I didn’t want to reuse the yarn I had frogged so when I decided to turn it into a hat, I started with new yarn. I finished the simple baby hat just fine (it's pretty cute, huh?)
but I wouldn’t use this yarn for anything I wanted to last for a long time. This yarn is definitely hand wash only, and have your sweater razor ready, you will need it. I recommend keeping a lint brush with you when you knit, since I was covered in red fuzz the whole time. I honestly did not like this yarn at all and will never knit with it again. It is not worth the money, in my opinion. I’m considering returning the unused skeins. I could buy more Simply Cotton to make myself a sweater! I give it a 1. Have you used either of these yarns? What did you think? Do you agree with my reviews or have other opinions? I'm curious to hear what you think!

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