Yarn Spotlight Addition: Winter 2010

Dec 17, 2010

Wool season is here! With apologies to our wool-allergic readers, we've explored the merits of various washable wools in various price points. (For the wool-sensitive, you may find that the treatment that makes the fiber washable also makes the wool less irritating to your skin.) Here's a look at three washable-wool yarns, worked in crochet cables (you can find six more yarns reviewed in the Winter 2010 issue of Interweave Crochet. Details below). Cables call for a larger hook than recommended. Note the hook size used in these swatches to help guide your own hook choice.* But really the best judge is you: work a few rows using one hook, moving up in size as necessary until you find the happy marriage between hook and yarn to produce a fabric with enough movement for your project. For a pillow or hat, you will want a fairly dense fabric; for an afghan you want more drape, for a garment, even more drape. All swatches were machine washed cold, then machine-dried, accordingly to the label. Gauge measurements are given before and after washing.  

*If the label lists only recommended needle sizes, use the mm size to find the comparable crochet hook size. You can find conversions here. For regular crochet, generally you move up a hook size. For crochet cables, move up 2 or 3 sizes.

The pattern used is the center pattern of the Twisting Vines Scarf by Lisa Naskrent, page 82 of the Winter 2010 issue.

See the Winter 2010 issue Yarn Spotlight for reviews of 136 Merino Superwash (Mission Falls), Superwash Merino, LB Collection (Lion Brand), décor (Patons), Zara Chine (Filatura di Crosa),
Country (Naturally Caron), and 220 Superwash (Cascade)
Kroy Socks FX
Patons

 1.75 oz, 50 g/ 166 yd, 152 m
75% washable wool, 25% nylon
wash: machine wash warm, dry low, gentle
color: camo colors, 57012

Hook size: F
(label-recommended hook: D-3/3.25 mm)
size before washing: 5.25 by 3.5
size after washing: 4.75 by 4

This is a stretchy yarn with good twist, making it very pleasant to crochet. The color change produces a very subtle striping that would be very pretty in a scarf. The cabling is lost somewhat in the colors, though. After washing, the swatch shrank significantly widthwise (half an inch) and grew half an inch heightwise. So, for socks, you'll want to make them a little larger if you know the recipient will want to machine wash them. Same holds for a hat, though you'll have a little more leeway here. It's perfect for scarves, where it won't matter much if it shrink a bit in the wash. This would also make a great sweater, but again make it a size larger if your recipient is likely to machine-wash it. Hand-washing will reduce any shrinkage (it's the agitation of the machine that works the shrinking magic). 
Wildfoote
Brown Sheep

1.75 oz, 50 gr/ 215 yd, 197 m
75% washable wool, 25% nylon
wash: hand or machine wash lukewarm, lay flat to dry
color: desert grass, SY-02

Hook size: E
(label-recommended hook: C-2/2.75 mm)
size before washing: 5.25 by 3.5
size after washing: 5.25 by 3.75

This terrific marled yarn has four strands of color: gold, light green, medium green, and dark green. The individual strands are twisted nicely, but the plying is a tad loose, causing it to catch occasionally on the hook. This is a terrific yarn for all sort of accessories. It holds gauge very closely after washing, stretching just slightly lengthwise. This makes it an ideal yarn for a sweater even for someone who would rather machine wash than hand wash. 
Wool-Ease Worsted Weight
Lion

3 oz, 85 g / 197 yd, 180 m
85% acrylic, 10% wool, 4% rayon
wash: machine wash lukewarm, machine dry on low
color: mushroom, 403

Hook size: L
(label-recommended hook: J-10/6 mm)
size before washing: 9.25 by 6.5
size after washing: 9 by 6.25

This squooshy yarn is such fun to crochet! It produces buckets of fabric in no time, with its four-ply construction holding firm throughout. It produces a much thicker fabric than the sock yarn, of course, and is just right for an blanket-in-a-hurry. Five repeats of the scarf pattern (including the bobble sections that I eliminated) would produce an afghan about 55 inches wide. Just work it as long as you like. The yarn and pattern would also make great pillows. It shrank just slightly in the wash, losing both width and length in equal measures. This is just fine for an afghan, particularly one that gets a lot of love. I'm thinking Chili would be a really great color for my den.


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