Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Yarns of 2014


In 2014 I tried many new yarns, and though I mention most of them in the project posts when I used them, I thought it be fun to do a sort of yarn wrap up post specifically for these yarns. It helped me get a clear view of what I thought of them and who knows, maybe they will help you with forming an opinion about these yarns as well. I think I'm getting better with choosing suitable yarn and knowing what I like and don't like. Out of all the new yarns I tried, there is only one I probably won't use again. Here we go!

1. Jamieson & Smith 2ply Jumperweight 


I only tried Jamieson & Smith 2ply Jumperweight this year, and it was definitely a success! I used it for four projects already, and I've worn them a lot. The yarn has become a favourite of mine and I can see myself using it a lot more in the future. I first came into contact with it through Kate Davies' blog and then started noticing it while browsing Fair Isle projects on Ravelry. After hearing a lot of praise about this yarn on blogs, Ravlery and in books, I made up my mind to try it.

 It comes in an amazing range of colours, from solids, to more complex, heathery shades. The yarn is woollen-spun, so it holds together nicely. It blooms beautifully after blocking. From what I've seen from vintage garments using Shetland wool, it is very durable as well. Because of the huge choice of colours and the nature of the yarn it's perfect for stranded colourwork. Since that happens to be my favourite knitting technique, I guess it is no surprise that I instantly loved this yarn.

Projects I made with it this year:

1. Hairst Cardigan
2. Mini fox for my brother
3. Puffin Sweater
4. Foxglove ( this project is still on the needles)

2. Alice Starmore Hebridean 4ply


 Another yarn that is perfect for stranded colourwork, I first heard about this yarn through Alice Starmore's books. Alice Starmore is another knitting hero of mine, and her books contain a wealth of information. I wanted to try the yarn for years, but thought it wasn't available outside the UK. Later I found out, almost by accident, that it was available worldwide, and joy spread through the Treehouse. This is a sticky yarn, which makes it even better for colourwork and the colour range is quite good. What gives this yarn an extra personal touch is that each of the yarns and each of the different colourways has a unique story about the inspiration for the colour. Usually, this is a short story inspired by Alice's Gaelic and Hebridean background. Personally I love details such as these. The yarn comes in small skeins of 25 grams. I believe this is done intentionally, as colourwork often only requires little amounts, but from many different colours.

The project I made with this yarn is Tantallon.

3. Jamieson & Smith Heritage




I received this yarn as part of the Toatie Hottie kit this time last year. The Heritage yarn was developed in a collaboration between Jamieson & Smith and the Shetland Museum. The aim was to recreate the yarn that was historically used in Shetland to make garments. The Heritage yarn is very different from the 2ply jumper weight. It's a worsted-spun yarn instead of woollen-spun which both sets it apart and probably accounts for most of the differences. The Heritage is softer than the Jumperweight and also slightly thinner, probably due to its smoother nature. I've not had any problems with pilling. I'm eager to try this yarn for something more substantial, like a garment.

I used this yarn for Toatie Hottie.

4. Drops Karisma



I was surprised to find that I've never used Drops Karisma before. I've used Drops yarns a lot, especially when I just started knitting. Due to its availability and its affordability it is one of the most popular yarn brands in my country. Therefore it surprised me to find that I only now got around to using this specific yarn of theirs. It's a 100% wool superwash, even so I've never put it in the washing machine, not necessarily because I don't trust Drops to make a proper superwash but I don't trust any 100% wool project to not felt in the washing machine. So far I've had some pilling, but nothing ridiculous giving it's price. The colours range Karisma comes in is decent, but not mind blowing. All in all, a good workhorse yarn I'd say.

This yarn was used for Porridge and Honey.

5. Finlandia Shetland


I think this yarn is only available in the Netherlands, in one specific store, as it's specifically made for them in Scotland. It is available in loads of colours, solids, heathers and tweedy yarns. It's a fingering weight and woollen spun. The downside to this yarn is that you can only buy it in 50g balls, so when you only need little amounts of yarns, for colourwork for example, you'll have a lot left. If you do more colourwork projects that is not so much of a problem, but if you only do them occasionally you might not want so much left overs. Other than that I'm pretty happy with this yarn, which is again very suitable to use for stranded colourwork. I'm starting to sense a theme here.

Project made with this yarn: Sheepheid

6. Malabrigo Yarn Merino Worsted




Out of all the yarns I tried this year, this is the one I'm least happy with. While Malabrigo is one of my favourite yarn brands, I do not understand the popularity of this particular yarn. The yarn is nice enough to work with, incredibly soft and knits up quickly, however the durability is not fantastic. I used it for a shawl and it started pilling incredibly after one wear. These days some parts of the shawl almost look felted, which is not a look I aimed for. As I mentioned in the post about the shawl, I suspected this to happen. However, I wanted to try it anyway, because it is just so popular and many knitters use it. Therefore, I wanted to give it a chance. While I still wear it around the house, and when taking a walk outside, I hesitate to wear it anywhere else. I guess it is not as bad as I've made it sound like, but it is definitely below my expectation of the yarn. I think many of the issues are cased by its unplied nature. I have used Malabrigo Sock, a plied yarn, before and praise it to the sky precisely because even though I worn it on uncountable occasions it still looks as new. I will probably not use this yarn again. Next time I'll probably use Malabrigo Rios, which is a plied version of the same yarn and probably doesn't suffer the same issues.

I used this yarn for The Bonnie Bonnie Banks.

7. Rowan Kid Classic  




 One of the more popular Rowan yarns, it has been in their collection for years. It's a combination of Lambswool: 70%, Kid Mohair: 22%, Polyamide: 8%. Normally I don't pick yarns with such a mixed fibre content. I had to get used to it, as to me it felt a bit strange while knitting with it ( not very woolly, nor very soft). It does soften quite a bit after blocking. So far the yarn has not shed at all, but due to it's high level of fuzzyness it does create a nice little halo around the knitted fabric. The yarn is very sticky making it more suitable for colourwork projects instead of textured or cabled knits. I made a cabled hat with it, but due to the fuzzyness and halo effect of the yarn the stitches of the tree pattern are less visible than I would like it to be. I have worn the hat a lot already as I do like the halo effect, and the yarn is very soft. However if I were to use this yarn again I'd probably pick a more suited project to the yarn, one without much texture.

I used this yarn for my Bough hat.

8. Foula Wool

I'm so used to wearing my Tea Jenny hat, that I almost had forgotten that I only made the hat, and subsequently got to know Foula wool this year! I'm quite surprised about that.
I loved knitting with this yarn. It is Shetland wool and has a lot of the characteristics that I love in other Shetland wool that I've worked with. It's perfect for stranded colourwork, an by now you'll probably have guessed that this is one of the most important things I judge a yarn on. The yarn has a springy and bouncy quality to it as well, and a gives a gives a clear stitch definition. This makes me think that it would be suited to cables or a textured design as well. The yarn comes in natural sheep colours only. Personally I love sheep colours and to me it makes Foula extra special and more linked to the island and nature there. However if you're not into them, you could try dying some of the yarn yourself? In any case I loved working with this yarn and think it has a special story to boot. I'd like to think that knitting has made me feel more connected to places I otherwise would not know about or feel little connection with. It is something I've been thinking about a lot and I might write a post on that topic later. In any case, Foula wool is one of those yarns that I'd very much like to use again.

 Foula wool comes from a tiny island in Shetland. I was interested in small and independent yarn companies before I encountered Foula, but it's safe to say that after I knitted with this yarn something in my knitting life was set in motion. Since then I've been on the lookout for more yarn companies and small farms from different (special) places. It started as a joke between me and some knitting friends: "lets see from which other tiny remote Island we can get yarn" to something more serious.  My boyfriend often claims that it's my life goal to knit a bit from every desolated island or area in the Northern Hemisphere. Which I think, as far as life goals go, is not such a bad one, aye?

I used this yarn for my Tea Jenny Hat.

Phew, those are all the new yarns I tried in 2014. I have to admit it where a lot more than I initially thought. I knew I tried some, but it was not until I listed them all that I realised quite how many new yarns I used. It's nice to live in a world where we have all these options. We can order yarn from Shetland, Uruguay, Iceland and indeed even tiny remote islands with less inhabitants than the building I live in. It's truly a wonderful thing. If 2015 is going to be half as good when it comes to yarns than it will be a very good year.


Have you tried any new and exciting yarns? Or know a great yarn company/dyer that I do not know about (but should)? Feel free to let me know in the comments! 

Nisse

4 comments :

Kat said...

Whew! That's quite a lot of yarn! I can tell you that Malabrigo Rios is an absolute dream to work with. While I like working with single-ply yarns, you really have to pick the right project for them, but Rios has fantastic stitch definition, is wonderfully squishy and bouncy, and comes in all the fun colors :)

Nisse said...


I know! I was quite surprised at the amount of yarn myself, when I listed them.

Thanks, that is great to know! Now I want to make a replacement shawl with Malabrigo Rios! ;)

Margot said...

Wat een mooie wol voorraad, prachtige kleuren en kwaliteit om heel blij van te worden en mooie dingen van te maken. Ik wens je ook in 2015 heel veel mooie wol waar je veel plezier en inspiratie van krijg voor mooi projecten.
Gr Margot

Nisse said...


Heej,

Bedant! Dit zijn wel garens die ik al gebruikt heb in 2014. Dus ze zitten niet meer in mijn wol voorraad. Maar heb er dan wel weer mooie projecten voor terug.

Ha dat hoop ik ook! :D