Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Yarn Review: Because I can't knit right now

I have been banned from knitting. It's a self-inflicted ban, at the behest of my left elbow, which is currently suffering from an RSI. I haven't knitted since the pain started, and while I tried a little crochet, I soon realised that I twist my arm far too much to be allowed that either. Spinning seems to be ok in small amounts, but it still hurts three weeks later, so I'm going on a yarn-fast. I did make some interesting yarn this past week. I got a mixed bag of colours that included blues and purples, greens and yellows. One of the green/yellow colours was multicoloured with white, so that's where the white comes into this ball. I spun the different colours, then plied them all together. It's three plies, but measures up as more of a worsted weight. They're not colours I would wear, but the yarn will be nice to knit with (it's merino) and might be nice for one of the men in my life, or one of the women who's colour palette doesn't tend toward the blues and purples I usually buy.

Since I can't show you any of the things I've finished recently, I thought I would review a few of the yarns I have WIPs going with. Most of my yarns come from independent dyers, who take luxury fibres such as merino, silk, camel and cashmere and dye them amazing colours. While I like and appreciate cheaper yarns such as acrylics, I was drawn to the finer things for the first few years of yarn buying. Then, I found Sirdar Simply Recycled.

I fell in love. This stuff is half acrylic, half cotton, and is £2 a ball. It comes in a DK weight, and has a very generous 142 yards per 50 grams. It has enough cotton that it keeps the cotton characteristics, and the acrylic is a nice acrylic, unlike some of the horrible stuff you find in those big box stores (Michaels or Hobbycraft, for example.) While it is a little splitty, it's not so bad as some of the pure cotton or other plant fibres (bamboo, are you listening to me?) that I've worked with. It drapes nicely and is great for most temperatures. I've bought a bunch of it and worked with it enough to know that I will buy a bunch more. The only downside to this yarn is the fact that the colours are fairly limited. Sirdar, we want more colours!

The Natural Dye Studio has always been at the top of my list for yummy yarns. I like several of theirs, including their 100% silk laceweight and their BFL range. This review will be for their Angel, which is a mix of  alpaca, silk and cashmere. It's probably the softest yarn I've ever held, and the silk in it makes the colours more vivid than they would otherwise be, but not too bright. This yarn comes in laceweight, 5-ply and DK and is pretty standard for yardage, with 262 yards per 100 grams in the DK. What sells this yarn for me is the colour. The husband-wife team behind NDS do amazing work, and everything is environmentally friendly. They're based in the UK as well, so buying from them makes me feel like I'm being green.

My final yarn for this review is Sublime's Organic Merino DK. I find the idea of a wool yarn being organic a bit funny, but I guess it means that the sheep the fibre comes from eat only organic grass. This in turn is better for the sheep, so they produce nicer wool. That's the hypothesis, anyway. Awhile back, my LYS had a sale on it, and I got 10 skeins for a steal, then bought a few extra in anticipation of making a large wrap thing. I started on the wrap, and quickly found out that the yarn didn't suit it at all. Said wrap was all cables and the merino just kind of lost the cabling in a lot of fluff. It didn't look anywhere near what it should have. I ripped it back, and eventually decided to get the yarn out again for a cardigan. While I've had all kinds of trouble with the cardi, I do love the yarn. It's soft and warm and the colours are muted. It's a pleasure to work with. The yardage isn't as generous as the Sirdar,  at 113 yards per 100 grams. For some reason, I thought this was discontinued, but the Ravelry page says nothing about it, and no one else seems to think it is, so I'm going on the basis that it's still widely available.

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