Monday, August 10, 2015

Wanted: a Good Chunky Yarn

It's tough to find a nice chunky yarn for sweater knitting these days. What am I looking for?
1. A yarn that knits at 3 1/2 sts per inch. Not 3, not 4. For instance, the wrapper on Cascade's Eco+ says the gauge is 3 1/2 sts per inch, but in reality, it looks better at 4. Similar problem with Quince's Osprey; the label says it works at 3 1/2 sts per inch on US 11's, which should be clue enough to tell you that it really knits better at 4 to the inch on a US 9.
2. A wool that isn't superwash. If you don't know this already, superwash is unpredictable after washing. It can grow ridiculously. Often manufacturers tell you to put it in the dryer (horrors!), for 15 minutes, then lay it flat to dry. The trouble with that is that you lose all control over shaping, and the fibre loses body and goes limp. Case in point--Ella Rae Chunky Superwash. I knitted a swatch in it a couple of years ago, and the swatch grew to almost twice the size of the original.
3. A wool or wool/natural fibre blend. I want warmth and elasticity, even lightness. I loved Elann's Peruvian Highland Chunky, now no longer available. It was lightly spun, airy, and perfect, apart from the fact that it came in 50g balls, thus requiring a lot of splicing. I don't want too much alpaca in a blend, because alpaca makes a heavy garment.
4. A soft yarn, so that collars won't itch against the neck.
5. Lucious colours, either solids, heathers, or tonals. It seems that all the otherwise suitable chunky yarns out there are space dyed.
So, why am I on a quest for the perfect chunky? I've just finished knitting this.


The yarn, Galway Chunky, is lovely, but it falls down a bit in the colour department. The button makes up for it, though.


Celtic horses, from The Ram's Horn Studio, purchased at Rhinebeck a few years ago. The knitting was fun and quick. This is really a new, unstructured version of Petrova, so the pattern will be quick to write up. If only I could find the perfect chunky to go with it...
P.S. I ought to have added price as a criterion. Few knitters can afford to make an entire sweater with yarn that costs $20 a skein!

16 comments:

  1. The pattern is lovely. But, I think that it will look more defined made in fine yarn. European needle 3 or 3,5. Your patterns are with the classic touch I Iove with just a few needles down.
    I am a silent reader of your site and admire the elan of your knitting.
    Dutchy, from Holland.

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  2. I like lightweight yarns too, and I will be bringing out a few lighter designs in the coming months. However, our winters here are very cold, and I get a lot of use out of my chunky weight knits in January through March.

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  3. Love the design! Just for your info I've used Osprey twice on 6.5mm needles and it looks really good. Can't remember what the guage was, will have to check that but it's quite a versatile wool which seems to squish down to aran as well plump up to chunky - if that makes sense!
    (Terdotty on Rav)

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    1. OK, so I knitted swatches with Osprey on both 6.5mm and 8mm needles. No one around here seems to carry anything in between those sizes, but that's probably what I need because the former size yielded a gauge of 15 sts/ 10 cm while the latter gave me something way, way beyond the desired 14 sts/ 10 cm. In conclusion, Osprey seems to look nice on 6.5 mm needles, but I wouldn't want to get any looser. Also, I think I really want a yarn with a bit of loft, either something with a touch of alpaca or something woollen spun. Either way, Osprey and I are parting company for this project.

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  4. I don't know if its available at your country, but maybe the Alafosslopi yarn (from Lopi) is worth considering ?
    Dutchy

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    1. Yes, it's available here, but just a tad too heavy. And honestly, I can't wear it next to my neck, even though it's a beautiful wool.

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  5. Schoolhouse Press yarns

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    1. I used Schoolhouse Press yarns a lot when we lived in the US (the Regal is made here in Canada, you know). Of those yarns, I think the Unspun Icelandic or the 3-ply Sheepswool would meet my gauge. The Icelandic is a little scratchy, but I think I need to explore the Sheepswool. Thanks.

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  6. As a Canadian I've been on a similar quest and still haven't found the answer. Bulky yarns I haven't tried yet but would like to are Brown Sheep yarns (Lambs Pride Bulky), Briggs and Little Atlantic, and Berroco Vintage Chunky (though it has a high acrylic content)

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  7. Brown Sheep's bulky is a true bulky, working up best at 3 sts/inch, not the 3.5 I'm aiming for. Briggs and Little's Atlantic is nice (especially the colour "Seafoam"), but I want a more refined look for this sweater. I definitely don't want Vintage Chunky because (you guessed it) of the acrylic content. I suppose I might end up splurging on Rowan's Cocoon. Then there's Berocco's Ultra Alpaca Chunky, although I'm worried a whole jacket out of if will be too heavy. Sigh!

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  8. You know....I just took a look at the Galway Chunky colors. I think there are a lot of interesting options there! I could see doing it in Snow, Ash, Celadon, Cherry Red...even Grass Green. I think you should stick with it!

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    1. Yes, I'd like too. It's boiling down to an availability problem. Diamond Yarns is almost out of stock, so it seems as though there's only what's left in stores. Don't know what's going on there.

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  9. I was also going to suggest Atlantic if you wanted a very rustic yarn, but how do you feel about Knit Pics? They have this one, which is inexpensive, and has a number of colours. I think it can be knit at the gauge you are looking for:
    http://www.knitpicks.com/yarns/Wool_of_the_Andes_Bulky_Yarn__D5420155.html

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  10. I assume you've looked at Philospher's Wool from Tiverton, Ontario. I have a hat which I lanolize after washing which makes it feel nice (I don't know why that works). And a sweater 10 years in progress lol. https://www.philosopherswool.com/Pages/YarnMain.htm

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    1. Yes, I have a pack of Philosopher's in my stash, but not enough of one colour. Plus, a lot of their colours are actually spun by Briggs and Little--see comment above.

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    2. Interesting, I didn't know that. Good luck on your search!

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