Meet the Yarn: Luster

Jill Wolcott
passion.fashion.knits

Miles Davis said he had to quit playing ballads because he loved them so much.  Not sure what a ballad is?  Check this list, you have probably heard many of them. I had to step away from Luster in the same way!  Luster is a fingering version of It Could Be Worsted. As much as I enjoyed It Could Be Worsted, fingering is more my gauge.  I almost lost myself on the swatches of twisted stitch rib with cables and lace from the Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible.

I have done my usual exploration swatch of garter, stockinette, seed, and 1x1 rib. The yummy blend of 50% super wash merino and 50% tussah silk means it looks good in all types of stitches. Tussah silk is not as refined as some silk filaments, so you get little bits of variation in the fiber.

The yardage for Luster is 405 yards or 370 meters to 114g or 4 ounces.  I used a US size 3(3.25mm) needle.  The exploration swatch used 40g, I have approximately 36g remaining unknit, and so my other swatches used about 38g.  I know what I’m going to do with the unknit Luster—because I have an other skein which I’m going to knit up — it will become accents.

So let’s get to the details so you can start having Luster-ous dreams:  

Do note that there isn’t a lot of change in gauge from unblocked to blocked, but that the stitch pattern gauges vary quite a bit.  I used the same needles throughout my swatches.  Every stitch looks great in this yarn.  Knit it tight enough to counteract the in-elasticity of the silk, and to insure even stitches.  I love it in the twisted stitches, but I need a different skein for that because the other one I picked up is multi-colored.  This is a yarn worth waiting for!

8 rows of stitch pattern 162 from the Japanese Knitting Bible.

8 rows of stitch pattern 162 from the Japanese Knitting Bible.

I love looking at the projects and stashes on Ravelry.  Prices online vary from $33 per skein to close to $37 per skein.  A shawl or project taking two skeins will cost about $70-75 and to my thinking, that is a nice price for the hours of knitting pleasure you will get.  Then, of course you get to wear it!

I do a cost analysis for my yarn based on knitting time.  I recently worked up a project in 1 skein of Sport with similar yardage and spent about 12 hours knitting.  Double that if you use 2 skeins.  That means it costs $3.125 an hour.  About the same as the cost of my Saturday double espresso.  That does not take into account the future wearing.  

Seeing photos of a yarn worked up is always a good way to take its measure.  Here are some Luster projects I selected from the 158 listed on Ravelry.  I added the number of skeins used — so you can do the cost math.  There are 203 stash entries on Ravelry, and of the six listed for sale or trade, two are just the remainder from projects knitted. 

https://www.ravelry.com/projects/panfila/ever-again 1 skein plus a second yarn
https://www.ravelry.com/projects/MelKnitsInOly/zucchero 6 skeins (5 colors)
https://www.ravelry.com/projects/sixfoursgirl/kiss-me-romper 2 colors
https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mysisterknits/purless 1 skein
https://www.ravelry.com/projects/rindab/hitofude-cardigan 3 skeins, size small
https://www.ravelry.com/projects/Summ/santa-rosa-plum 4 skeins
https://www.ravelry.com/projects/hellogirl100687/im-winging-it-sweater-xxxvii-discreet-faux-isle unknown, but sweater appears to be an XS.

Looks like there is plenty of user satisfaction!  Take a look, then purchase a skein or two and set sail on your next beautiful knitted thing!

You’ll find more great pattern ideas for Luster on our Pinterest page!

Keep up on all things Jill Wolcott:
Contact: jill@jillwolcottknits.com
Blog:  http://www.jillwolcottknits.com/category/blog/
Twitter: @jillwolcottknit
Instagram: @jillwolcottknits
Pinterest: Jill Wolcott Knits
www.JillWolcottKnits.com 

Meet the Yarn: It Could Be Worsted, part 2

In the Northeast, as summer draws to a close, the heat and humidity fades and the foliage begins to hint at its beautiful autumnal colors. That's a verbose way to say that the desire to knit and crochet is returning. I want to finish projects fast, so I often turn to heavier yarns. As a crocheter, I don't often think of worsted weight yarns but as I discovered when reviewing For Better or Worsted I shouldn't discount them.

It Could Be Worsted is a worsted-weight blend of 50% superwash merino and 50% tussah silk. Don't fret that there's no cashmere, the silk is luxurious and as this is a rounded 4-ply, you get a yarn that is very squishy and soft. I was eager to swatch with my 190 yards (173 meters) and love how it works up in crochet -- even at this bulky-for-crochet weight. When paired with the shape of crochet stitches, the squishy round yarn begs to be worked. I found it hard to stop swatching!

Let's first look at the knitting. I apologize that tactile touch screens aren't a technical reality - you can see the depth of stitches! I had difficulty finishing the garter stitch swatch as I kept pausing to pet it.
 

It Could Be Worsted swatches, knit

It Could Be Worsted swatches, knit

In basic crochet stitches, by contrast, this yarn highlights the need to find the gauge (stitch tension) that creates a fabric you love. I'm not enamored by what my 4.5mm hook achieved but I know I want to explore this yarn further.
 

It Could Be Worsted swatches, crochet

It Could Be Worsted swatches, crochet

The same is true for my net lace swatch. It's nice, but I'm not sure it's right. I think in this sort of stitch, it's best as an edging. While it would reduce the weight of an accessory, I'm not confident it would maintain its shape if it were the all-over stitch for a design.

It Could Be Worsted swatch, lace

It Could Be Worsted swatch, lace

The texture swatch shows promise, though I do think a hook adjustment is in order. I often stopped to squish this swatch. Can you feel the texture? 

It Could Be Worsted swatch, texture

It Could Be Worsted swatch, texture

What made my heart sing? This simple humble granny square motif! What does this mean to me? I don't see a 70's granny square vest in my future for this yarn, but it shows me in a way the previous swatch didn't that it's important to explore textures. I also think short rows and exploring the direction the fabric is worked is what makes this swatch work so well for me. Do you agree? 

It Could Be Worsted swatch, motif

It Could Be Worsted swatch, motif

Is this yarn better suited to some projects over others? I think accessories for a special event which highlight the silky shine are best. A garment at this weight would be very warm and, depending on the stitch pattern, dense and heavy.

How does it compare to For Better or Worsted? You can't swap yarn for yarn without adjustment. They're not quite the same grist and that slight difference could add up if you're making a large project. For a small accessory I'd make sure to purchase extra yarn, swatch, and know that the fabric will be different as silk isn't the same as a cashmere/nylon blend.

My swatch photos comparing For Better or Worsted and It Couldn't Be Worsted aren't quite a fair comparison. As I promised in that first post, I tossed the For Better or Worsted in the washing machine (with my weekly load of laundry) and laid them flat to dry. The result is that the stitches are no longer as round as they were after a gentle hand wash.

It Could Be Worsted swatches

It Could Be Worsted swatches

_All swatches of It Could Be Worsted are in the Nimbus colourway with 4.5mm needles and hooks, any perceived differences in shade are due to the photographer._

--
Penny Shima Glanz spends her days spinning yarn and code into memorable projects. Small businesses rely on her for smart technology decisions. Designers rely on her to sample, test, and edit their hand-knit and crochet patterns. She loves muddy trail runs, fosters kittens, and lives in Westchester, NY with her husband and cat. www.pennyshima.com

You can find It Could be Worsted at these shops:

Admit Ewe Knit - Raleigh, NC
Amazing Threads - Maple Grove, MN
Baskets of Yarn - Charlotte, NC
Do Ewe Knit - Westfield, NJ
Fiber Artwork - Huntsville, AL
Harps & Thistles - Cuyahoga Falls, OH
KnitKnit - Couer d’Alene, ID
Knitorious - St Louis, MO
Knitting Garden - Coral Gables, FL
Sated Sheep - Dripping Springs, TX
Swift Stitch - Santa Cruz, CA
Online @ Kitterly.com

You’ll find great pattern ideas for It Could be Worsted on our Pinterest page here!

Meet the Yarn: Cricket

Jill Wolcott
passion.fashion.knits

Cricket
80% Superwash Merino, 10% Cashmere, 10% Nylon
+/- 250 yd / 228 m
5 sts / in US #6

I love good food and I love luxury fiber yarn.  The commonality of those two things is that whatever I am eating/using is what I favor right then.  This has allowed me to enjoy all the wonderful Anzula Luxury Yarns I’ve written about.  Another commonality?  I think it is not a luxury if the result you get is pleasurable and gives a great result.  My motto is always “buy the best you can afford” and then make things that are useful to you and fit your way of life.  See justifications below.

Cricket is a soft, springy 3-ply DK weight yarn.  Cricket is 250 yards of 80% super wash merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon.  In Stockinette Cricket yields about 20 stitches and 28 rows to 4 inches. It has nice stitch definition and does a smooth and even Stockinette, but also makes a wonderfully textured seed stitch.  In other words, it fits into the Anzula Luxury Fibers line up perfectly.  

Let’s talk price.  I always compare the prices of yarns when I am looking at using them because I need to think about your spending habits.  Cricket is about $35/skein.  This seems high to many knitters, but I want you to think about price differently.      

Recently a friend was admiring a pair of boots I had purchased.  Although not inexpensive, I did get them 20% off.  She still felt the price tag ($165 with tax) was high.  I countered by telling her that I expected I would still be wearing them 12 to 15 years from now.  My experience is I either wear things out because I over-use them, or I wear them for a very long time.  For clothing/shoes I tend to look at days used, times worn, and pleasure in owning and wearing, rather than the price paid at the moment.   If I own and use those boots for 10 years, my cost per year is $16.50!  Of course I had to have the extra money to buy them now.  If I wear the boots out sooner, it will likely be because I wore them so much, so the cost per wear will be low.   I have clothes and shoes that I have literally spent less than $0.10 per wear!  I admit I am a pretty thoughtful shopper.

Often luxury fibers added in small amounts do not make much difference in the final yarn.  In Cricket you can really feel the softness of the fiber in every stitch you make.  You will enjoy every moment you are knitting with it and want to knit more!  For this review I made my usual exploration swatches, but I also made a messy-bun hat.  It consumed about 28g of yarn (in full disclosure, I also used a bit left over from another project as well).

Here’s why a luxury yarn makes sense.  This messy bun hat is going to be worn by me when I am running.  The fact that I am getting internally heated by running tends to make the extremely sensitive skin on my neck and ears even more sensitive.  Having short hair, my ears can get pretty cold while running during the winter but I am often uncomfortable if the top of my head can’t release heat, so this messy-bun hat will let me pull the soft fabric over my ears and leave my crown exposed for heat release.  Cashmere and super wash wool add to the appropriateness of this yarn in a fairly rugged application: Cashmere likes to be washed!  I’m looking forward to my winter running with soft, warm ear covering.

Messy bun hat in progress.

This brings me to my—and your—knitting.  I have 25 grams of Cricket remaining or I’ve used 75 grams.  I have spent five evenings using this yarn.  That is usually about 1.5 to 2 hours of knitting per evening, or 8 to 10 knitting hours.  I made my exploration swatches (2 evenings) and the messy-bun hat (3 evenings, including i-cord).  At $35/skein, I’ve used about $26.25 of my Cricket over 10 hours.  This means my knitting cost me $2.625 per hour.  I always relate this to a coffee drink because people regularly buy those.  Where I live, that is about the cost of a single espresso.

I recommend Cricket for more-than-pleasant knitting, but especially for the joy of wearing it.   I am not alone.  There are 1690 projects on Ravelry, a surprising number of the projects made are multiple-skein projects.  There are 1592 stashes containing Cricket —and if you are looking to buy, some are available at good prices. In a time of gift-giving, this is the sort of gift that makes a real impact.  To be truly frugal, you could get two gifts—and hours of your own entertainment—from the investment.  Check the Pattern Ideas   Look on my blog on December 6 for a recipe for making the messy-bun hat.

I always look up information on the fibers I am writing about and using.  One of my favorite resources is the Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook by Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius.  I almost always learn something, and this was no exception.  I did not know that Cashmere is not a goat breed, but refers to the under fiber found on all goats, except the Angora goat.  Additionally the amount and quality of this down grown by a goat is related to temperature, which is why the best cashmere is found in cold, mountainous climates!  I always check online as well, because I know so many of you do.  I think the Wikipedia information is perhaps a little too general and if you are really interested in fibers you should check spinning or fiber-related books (always check your local library—they often have or have access to a wide collection of references).  

Here is a link to some fun photos from the 2013 Vermont Goat Show.

Keep up on all things Jill Wolcott:
Contact: jill@jillwolcottknits.com
Blog:  http://www.jillwolcottknits.com/category/blog/
Twitter: @jillwolcottknit
Instagram: @jillwolcottknits
Pinterest: Jill Wolcott Knits
www.JillWolcottKnits.com