Monday, March 28, 2011

Knit and Crochet Blog Week Day 1: A tale of two yarns

Knitters, crocheters, cats...who doesn't like a good yarn? On second thought, those categories probably only encompass a small percentage of the population, and yet, yarn still kicks ass. But not all yarn is created equal.

I used to have a real problem picking out yarn for projects. I'd either buy yarn I thought I liked and have nothing to do with it, or buy a pattern without a clue as to what yarn to use. I also used to be a yarn cheapskate--there's a certain amount of sticker shock when you first start knitting. As I recounted in a previous K & C Blog Week post, this resulted in some outright monstrosities.

So when I decided I wanted to make the Sahara sweater, I thought I'd take the easy way out: get exactly the yarn that the pattern recommended, regardless of price. Tilli Tomas Pure and Simple. With a name like Pure and Simple, what could go wrong? Everything, it turns out.

I called that 'stretched sadness'.

The yarn was unplied silk, which was not only unpleasant to work with, but also resulted in uneven and stretched out stitches. HATE. I plowed ahead and ended up with something resembling a sweater - then upon washing, the blue yarn leaked dye and sullied up the cream part.

I learned a couple of things.

1) Choose your yarn colors carefully--you may someday want to wash your garment.

2) Expensive yarn does not necessarily mean good/enjoyable yarn.

I somehow ended up on the Tilli Tomas e-mailing list--and several months after finishing my 'sweater', I received an email advertising a screaming deal on an experimental batch of TT yarn, a wool/silk blend. I still reeked of the stench of failure, but the bargain was too great for me--I bought enough for another sweater. And I loved it:

All that's left of 10 skeins.

My mom enjoys her wool/silk sweater (I think....I hope).

I liked the experimental yarn so much, I am now in possession of a heaping pile of it:

Tilli Tomas 'Elsie' yarn - 33% wool, 33% silk, 33% milk protein - 100% awesome.

So I also learned,

3) Keep trying, and you'll eventually find yarn that you love!


  1. I used to be a yarn cheapskate, too. No too awfully cheap, but I used a lot of basic yarns, and still like them for certain projects. I still don't stash much, because I like to choose as I go.

    The wool/silk sweater is lovely!

  2. That's an amazing red in that heaping pile. I'm glad there's a happy ending :)

  3. Glad you found an awesome yarn after your disappointment. I think it's why I haven't knit any big garments yet.

  4. Some nice colors in that stash :-)

  5. Cannot for the life of me find where to email/message you: that scarf you liked is Branching Out, free download from Ravelry :-)

  6. Ooooh :) pretty wool/silk blends yum :) I feel so sad for your jumper, did you rip out and reuse?

  7. Negative. It's still sitting in a drawer somewhere. Every now and then I think about unraveling it, but the question remains: would I actually want to use the yarn again?

  8. Great post. So pleased you liked the experimental lot. Your mum's sweater looks great.

  9. Ooh I want to squish that pile of yarn. I also love your mum's sweater, great work.

  10. That yarn is gorgeous! The sweater is beautiful, I'm glad you found a yarn you love! :D

  11. Oh no, I keep telling myself that if pattern and yarn match it will work out.

    I love the sweater pattern.

  12. Your mom's sweater is amazing! Wow, what a great job.

    Sahara is on my to-do list (yes, all these years later), but I chose another, less expensive yarn for it. I'm really glad I did after reading about your experience because I know that TT yarn was not cheap!

  13. So frustrating when a yarn just won't seem to work for you. Those stretched stitches would have sent me directly to the frog pond... but it's awesome that you found the "experimental" yarn that became a favorite.

  14. I totally agree that oftentimes the more expensive yarns do not live up to their price tags. But it's fun to experiment with lots of different yarns. I'm glad that the Elsie yarn worked out for you. The sweater looks and fits great!

  15. I hope your mother likes her wool/silk sweater, it's fabulous.

    Singles yarns are always problematic I think, and silk being completely non-stretchy makes it quite unpleasant to knit with. I have found it performs better under a very tight gauge, and the addition of some wool content also helps. But still, nowhere near as reliable as a plied yarn.

    I made a sahara with a 50/50 wool/silk blend single yarn (lang something) and it came out really well. I do love that pattern, and it made me a little sad yours didn't work.

    Experimental yarn sounds great, I really like the look of that red. yum!

  16. ooh! A new yarn to try!! It looks gorgeous and scrumptious :D

  17. Just found your blog and it is great. Your sense of humor comes across so well!

    Your mom is lucky she has a knitting daughter. In my house, I knit for my daughter!

  18. Your mum's jumper looks fantastic- such a shame about your Sahara sweater, that blue is lovely.