Monday, February 21, 2011

Super Wash

One of the diversionary tangents I've been noodling within my knitting realm is Superwash yarn. I want to find a reliable range of Superwash wool yarns for baby knitting. Or any kind of gift to those who may not be finely tuned to Proper.Wool.Care. You know the type: the people you love dearly despite their inattention to the wooly.

It started when I delivered this set back in December. With lots of anxiety thanks to questions about my color choice - I got attitude about the color choice. More than once. Oy.

FBS Lace sweater

baby hat

But color wasn't the issue. Well, maybe part of the issue come to think of it; I recall struggling a bit to find a girl color (that wasn't the obvious PINK). I used Knit Picks Swish DK to make this February Baby Sweater from Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitter's Almanac, and a matching February Baby Hat by Teeweewonders and it is perfectly acceptable yarn, ostensibly well priced for a Superwash Merino and it made a cute set for a newborn baby girl. I like DK weight yarns, that was my original motivation.

But I have to say, this isn't my favorite yarn - something about the texture didn't agree with my hypersensitive nerve endings in the right hand. It felt nice after blocking but the knitting was noticeably not soothing. And let's say you run out of yarn before the project is finished. Guess what, if you order just one skein, and because it's mail order only, you will quickly learn the shipping costs more than the yarn! Oh sure, I could ordered lots more yarn to qualify for free shipping, but that means spending more for less. And the truth is, I'm trying to clear space in the stash closet for yarns I really really really want. For me.

And so it began. The new tangent, a finely tuned radar, on the lookout for better options.

Another baby project, another chance to try some new (to me) Superwash yarns. Here I knit the same pattern the adorable Norwegian Sweet Baby Cap) using two completely different yarns.

Two adorable hats

The apricot hat used Tosh Merino Light from Madeline Tosh. A Merino fingering weight, single yarn that's hand-dyed, with a very generous put up at 440 yards. I bought the yarn and then came home to read comments on Ravelry relating big issues winding the yarn. Thank goodness I had no problems. Other than a tired arm from cranking the ball winder forever - 440 yards is a lot of winding! I had none of the nerve damage issues while knitting up the hat. And this tiny project barely put a dent in the skein, so there's lots more for future baby projects. I liked this one enough to know this is a Superwash keeper.


Next up, the lilac hat, knit from Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted Solid. It's an Aran weight, lightly plied yarn with a put up of 225 yards. It's a tad splitty but nothing I couldn't handle. It's soft, and feels nice going through the hands, but I did notice a tendency for the yarn to look a bit worn after working it a bit. To compensate, I went down a needle size on this hat project thinking a tighter gauge would reduce the chances for the yarn to fuzz and pill. I really liked this yarn. And despite it being a bit pricey at $20.00 per skein, I'll seek it out again for future projects. Especially baby projects such as hats, booties, even small sweaters that won't break the bank.


I don't have any more baby projects in the near future so I won't have a chance to try out a few I have in mind, including Cascade 220 Superwash, Berrocco Weekend and Berrocco Vintage (which comes in both a DK and a worsted line!). All seem to have excellent color ranges, decent put up at a reasonable price. Before you know it someone else will announce they're having a baby and that means I'll be trying these yarns soon.


Susie said...

I have a few baby projects to make and I think I'll add this adorable hat to my queue!
As for texture, I had that issue with Cascade Eco. It just didn't feel nice in my hands.

Rose said...

I love the Berrocco Vintage; it seems to have subtle color variations that make it look quite rich. Your sweater and hats are just lovely!

barefootrooster said...

attitude about color choices for handknit GIFTS? (not the way to endear oneself to a knitter...) that set is gorgeous. thanks for these thoughts on yarns for baby knits -- this is something i struggle with, too -- i don't have lots of superwash, but i want to knit things that will not make life harder for new moms and dads. i'll keep these recommendations in mind for sure!

Gale said...

The colour you chose for the FBS and coordinating hat is feminine, so whats with the attitude with respect to that colour choice? The pair are really gorgeous and the colour helps with that. I too get attitude for the colour choices I make for babies. Hardly ever the standard pink and blue, and hardly ever pastel.

knottygnome said...

thanks for the recommendations! I've been doing a lot of baby knitting too. i'm doing a kimono in wollmeise 100% right now. i know from experience that the yarn doesn't wear well as socks but i figured for a baby that will outgrow the sweater in a few months it should be fine.

daniel said...

My original for Mirabilis is in Lorna's Shepherd - it survived an accidental run through the laundromat (you can't imagine how I gasped when I saw it spinning around in the suds) just fine. It does get a bit pilly with use. I'm currently excited to get my hands on some Tosh. That baby sweater is gorgeous!

kimu said...

I *love* that color for the FBS!

A few other superwash options that I've used lately & enjoyed: Cascade 220 Superwash, Miss Babs Yowza Whatta Skein, Debbie Bliss Rialto, and Valley Yarns Valley Superwash.

Sara said...

I've only ever used SW for socks- I don't working with it. It dries out my hands and it's lacking the sproing that I love so much about wool.

BeeYooTeeFul stuff, BTW.

t does wool said...

that is some gorgeous knit!

Bethany said...

I wonder what it is that determines the feel of Superwash. Maybe the original wool quality? I'll be interested to read your opion of the Berocco and the Cascade.

Lovely gifts, though! I think your colour choices were perfect. I can't imagine anyone complaining! Some people! Sheesh.

Dan Gliubizzi said...

Beautiful Work!

Katie M. said...

I love the purple -- and the set turned out very cute! Thanks for the report on superwash yarn; I don't know much about it, but it's always good to keep in mind when a baby pops up!

GinkgoKnits said...

A little late but I wanted to comment anyhow. My favorite superwash yarn is Shelridge Farm's W4 but I only buy it at Stitches West because of the mail ordering issue. Otherwise, I find Dream in Color a little on the woolier side though Malabrigo Rios seems to machine wash better despite being super soft. Since you tried Tosh and like it, that's hard to beat. There is so much superwash out there right now that it's really edging out the woolier yarns. As for color backlash, I can only sigh in sympathy.

Anonymous said...

Maybe she was accustomed a line wedding dressesto be called "princess Diana". Or maybe she had done a lot for this title, she could not loss wholesale cheap evening dresses.

alida said...

A little late, but...Superwash generally has a non-wool hand which makes it not as nice to knit as wool. I find the m/c/n combinations much nicer ( merino/cashmere/nylon) even my superwash that I sell on Etsy, although its amazing and all that, is not as satisfying to knit as non-superwash.