Meet the Yarn: Cloud

Jill Wolcott
passion.fashion.knits

Cloud
80% Superwash Merino, 10% Cashmere, 10% Nylon
+/- 575 yd / 525 m
8.5-9 sts / in US #1

Cloud in Nimbus.

I have chosen Cloud to redo three projects in my pattern catalog.  Things change, and although I loved the original yarn, it is time to re-make them in something that lots of people use and/or want to use.  My samples are in Black Cherry and Blush. 

blush&blackcherry.jpg

Cloud is another example of an Anzula yarn where a small percentage of cashmere makes a huge difference.  This lovely heavy lace weight sells for about $34-36 skein.  The yardage is good at 575 yards (525m).  It is a simple 2-ply of 80% super wash Merino, 10% cashmere and 10% nylon in the unique tonal coloration we know and love in Anzula Luxury Fibers.  Cloud almost reminds me of a Suri alpaca.  It has a halo, but not a hard-to frog one (trust me, I always do some ripping!).  Want to know more about Cashmere?  Check out this blog where I took a look at Cricket.  This is a yarn that looks different after a wet blocking! 

I did my first swatch on US size 3(3.25mm) needles, thinking of it in terms of making a garment, and it does a nice garter and stockinette, a lovely seed stitch, and a slightly loose rib.  I then swatched in in a seed stitch, purl cable, and 3x3 rib for Snow Farm.  I love Snow Farm and its sister pattern Roundhill for their slightly girly look, in fairly tailored yarn and stitch patterns.  The texture shines in this smooth yarn with the tiniest halo to it.  I also worked it up in Remarkables.  This tiered shawlette is a favorite for mine.  Again, a somewhat flamboyant piece that remains slightly tailored in Cloud.  This is a look I really like. 

newremarkables.jpg

I’ve been thinking about Cloud for a while, and I’ve been looking at projects on Ravelry (1543) as well as the stashes (1919).  Cloud has been used to make everything from complex lace to rib socks.  From baby hats to color work.  It has been made into garments, hand accessories, and lots of shawls.  There are quilts of many colors, stranded color work, cables, stockinette, lots of laces and eyelets, garter stitch, brioche.  There are many familiar patterns, and others I’m glad I took the time to look at.  Lots of Perfect Fit Socks.  I loved this pair with red toes and heels.  There was double knitting, and I loved this pullover.  There are also lots and lots of Pioneer Cuffs, and this project for a man’s sweater.  One of my other favorite garments is this. There are adorable baby sweaters.  I saw a few of A Hint of Summer, but I loved this one in particular.  A few knitters have mentioned that the yarn can be a little slippery.

I wanted to challenge myself by making a man’s scarf in two colors with the leftovers of Blush & Black Cherry .  It is hard for me to design masculine; I’ve been observing what scarves men are wearing when I’m out walking.  I’m using a very simple stitch pattern, and I’m working on size US size 2 (2.75mm) using two longer Brittany dpns because I’m looking for some efficiency. 

My unblocked gauge numbers in this stitch pattern are  31 stitches and 46 rows to 4” OR 7.75 sts and 11.5 rows to 1”.  After wet and steam blocking in my stitch pattern the gauge changes to 45 stitches and 43 rows to 4” OR 11.25 sts and 10.75 rows to 1”.  Take a look at my blog on January 17 for the final outcome and the pattern. 

Let’s take a look at my gauge numbers from my exploration swatches to help you plan your Cloud projects!  I used a US size 3(3.25mm)

I like to know where I’m going to end up, which can be quite different from what I see when I’m knitting. isn’t always what the end result will be.  Remember this to help you when choosing stitch patterns:

  • More stitches per inch when blocked = narrower piece [garter, seed, 1x1 rib above]
  • Fewer stitches per inch when blocked = wider piece
  • More rows per inch when blocked = shorter piece [1x1 rib above]
  • Fewer rows per inch when blocked = longer piece [garter, seed above]
  • There was no change in the gauge in Stockinette, although my Stockinette always looks smoother and more even after blocking.

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Contact: jill@jillwolcottknits.com
Blog:  http://www.jillwolcottknits.com/category/blog/
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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
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www.JillWolcottKnits.com

Meet the Yarn: Croquet

Jill Wolcott
passion.fashion.knits

Croquet

50% Superwash Merino, 50% Tussah Silk
+/- 230 yd / 210 m
4.75-5.75 sts / in US #4-7

I was surprised to find only 74 Croquet projects on Ravelry, although happy faces abound, as do beautiful finished products.  Croquet retails for about $33 a skein, and most people have one to three skeins (230 yds to 790 yds). The 120 Croquet stashes on Ravelry are mostly not available for sale or swap, so I think this yarn could use a little more explanation and comment to encourage yarnies to dip in and use it. 

Croquet in Saffron, Charcoal, and Au Natural.

The yarn is a DK weight blend of tussah silk and super wash merino (50% each). The WPI is 16. This is a little heavier at 230 yards than the other Sport and DKs in Anzula’s line-up.  I know when I made my Lisse Hat I had to adjust the number of stitches to make it work.  Some of the project comments were that the fabric was heavier or the shawl ended up being larger than expected.  This is just one of the problems with how we categorize yarn, and has nothing to do with the marvelousness of Croquet itself.  I think the silk makes this less squishy than some of the yarns a knitter might be comparing it to.

Here are my gauge numbers in Reverse Stockinette and Stockinette and in a cable pattern, and a lace pattern.  

Some yarns are clearly better in a fabric stitch, and others in a lace.  I think what sets Croquet apart is that is it equally lovely in both.  If you have a smaller quantity, work it up in a hat or cowl; if you have more, a lace shawl or a sleeveless top will be ideal.  If you have even more yarn, it will make a lovely garment.  I will be redoing the pattern for my lovely Florence cardigan in Croquet.    

This fabric is going to slightly heavier, and the silk makes it a little slippery, so it will drape beautifully.  Remember to calculate for that!  Whenever the silk content is high, swatching and blocking are essential.  I recommend that the swatches be hung to get a true sense of what is going to happen with the fabric in your final piece.  Do not think that the result you achieved with another yarn is going to be achieved identically in Croquet.  I’m very pleased with the stitch definition, the ability to work cables, and the openness achieved in the garter lace I’ve worked up in Croquet.  The light plays wonderfully with the silk and the signature tonal dying from Anzula Luxury Fibers.

I made the Lisse Hat from Croquet about 18 months ago.  I loved knitting with the yarn—so much so that I was willing to rip out the top of the hat and shorten it to a better length.  To me that is always a good sign.  It means I like working with the yarn, I am happy with the results, and I get to see what happens when the yarn gets reknit.  It is an informative process for me.  

The hat used smaller needles, US 3(3.25mm).  I used 88 sts instead of 96 sts (to fit my stitch pattern repeat).  You can download the information pdf for the original hat so you can plan. And you can find the Lisse pattern on Ravelry here. I don’t have unblocked gauge numbers for this, but based on the numbers above, expect a little contracting for the stitch gauge and slight expansion for the round gauge.

Do your homework in a swatch so that you will love your result!  Look at my blog post for information on customizing this hat pattern to work with Croquet. There is plenty of yarn in a single skein to swatch and to make the hat!

Note on Tussah silk.  This term generally describes non-cultivated silk. It isn’t a particular type of silk or silkworm, just that it is wild, not cultivated.  There is surprisingly little good information on silk online, so I can’t give you good links to more information.

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