I'm starting off the series with a couple of non-superwash wools that are incredibly versatile. They're warm, soft, and not at all expensive. They are Cascade's Ecological Wool and Eco+. The former is sold in a wide range of undyed colours, while the latter is available in a huge range of rich dyed shades. The skeins are huge, at 250g, so for a small woman's sweater you can get away with only two. Even for a man's sweater, three will usually do the trick. So, what is it I love about these wools?
1. They can be knitted at two distinct gauges. For a chunky gauge, at 4 stitches per inch, I use a 5.5mm(US#9) needle, and for a bulky gauge at 3 1/2 stitches per inch, I use a 6.5mm (US#10.5) needle.
Examples of my own designs at 4 sts to the inch that can be knitted with Ecological Wool or Eco+:
|Harriet's Jacket (shown here in Peace Fleece, but it can easily be knitted in Ecological Wool or Eco+).|
|Wheatsheaves--soon to be re-released.|
|Modern Gansey for him.|
|Modern Gansey for her (shown in Quince's Osprey, but also knittable in Ecological Wool or Eco+).|
|Glenora's cousin, Petrova (shown in a discontinued yarn, but I've since knitted a version in Ecological Wool).|
3. Ecological Wool and Eco+ are widely available, at least in North America. They're very easy to find.
4. Both wools are relatively affordable. You can knit a high quality sweater for well under C$100.
5. Both wools come in a wide range of undyed and dyed colours, some of them marled or heathered.
Now for the bad news (not VERY bad, though). With softness comes pilling. I take it for granted that this is a normal feature of wool. Arm yourself with a good lint shaver (I like this one best) and give your garment frequent cleanups, especially in the first few months of wear. Over time, the pilling will lessen. Don't be put off. Pilling isn't caused by cheapness (Quince's Osprey pills even more), but by soft, short fibres and loose spinning, both of which factors make yarns comfy. Just deal with it and enjoy wearing your beautiful garments.
P.S. I almost forgot...these Cascade wools are perfect for spit splicing -- perfect for when you hate weaving in ends.