Monday, April 27, 2009

Swatching for the next Aran

I've been busy, both sewing and knitting. Today I'm only going to post about yarn and knitting, but I'll be back later this week to chat about sewing.
Below are the swatch samples I've knit, swatching for the next aran sweater.
If you click on each individual swatch it should take you to a much larger photo. If it doesn't, they're uploaded in my flickr album too.

Jamiesons Shetland Heather
2/9c - 100% Shetland wool - 16-22 sts/20-24 rows = 4" - US 6-8 - 50 gr ball - Approx 101 yds Currently $7.75/sk Approx cost to knit an Na Craga - 20 balls = $155
Definitely the heaviest of all the yarns. Probably the "scratchiest" to wear too. I've got this navy to knit dh an aran, and swatched it in Na Craga. The yarn is not suited, at least not for my needles, to one of the more subtle patterns with a lot of twisted stitches and single stitch meandering patterns, like Irish moss. I may end up knitting this up as Na Craga, or maybe Inishmaan. Complete color list here.

Alice Starmore Hebridean 3ply
about the Hebridean Yarn Stocking Stitch: 21 ­ 23 Sts x 28 ­ 32 Rows. 4.5mm ­ 4mm ­ 3.75mm needles.
Currently 5.50GBP. at todays exchange rate of $1.46, cost for 20 sk = $160.65

Easily the nicest stitch definition both before and after blocking of all my swatches. 100% wool but not scratchy. Colors are rich with depth. Drawback is that VY is selling off their existing stock of the Hebridean 3ply and according to an email I received from Mairie, after an inquiry I made, they have no plans to continue the 3ply line. Limited colors are available.
The Red Deer I swatched is destined to become an Irish Moss aran for me!

Rowan Felted Tweed.
50% wool, 25% alpaca, 25% viscose.
191 yards (175 meters) 50 grams (1.76 ounces)
22.0 = 4 inches US 5 - 6
Current suggested retail is $9.75
Fortunately, I bought this yarn at Chris's Needle Arts (Chris is closing shop) and got it for significantly less.

This is the lightest weight of all that I swatched, and would be the most suited to wear in an indoor environment where central heating is set at 70F. However, it is the swatch that I'm most disappointed in, in terms of the behavior of the yarn, and I'm least likely to actually knit an aran with this yarn. I'm thinking I'll go to Ravelry and find a pattern with a lot less required stitch definition.

Jaeger Shetland 80% wool, 20% alpaca
knits on a size 7 needle. Discontinued yarn. I bought it at closeout from Janettes Rare Yarns and have 30 sk of the dk green - swatch shown here, and 30 sk of the lighter sage green.
If I hadn't swatched this and done a direct comparison with the VY Hebridean 3ply and the Jamiesons, I'd probably be perfectly happy with the look of this swatch. However, in comparison to the others, it flattened out a Lot in the blocking. It also has a nice halo, which I assume is attributable to the alpaca. It is lighter weight than both the Hebridean and Shetland, however I believe it will be equally as warm a sweater.

I'm swatching all these to send to my son Mark, to whom I've promised to knit another aran sweater. The first one I knit for him was a wealth of knowledge gained and a learning experience, however not so successful in the actual garment.
I fulled it when it appeared that the sweater was huge, after I knit those extra side panels. Well, the sweater grew sideways and shrunk a bit lengthwise, and I ended up having to cut it apart, after it was fulled, and restitch it to the desired dimensions. I also, after refiguring the sleeves before knitting, still had to pull those apart to add more width. Like I said, a learning experience. So, he's got all these unnecessary seams, and a sweater that is pilling faster than he can cut the little suckers off. Totally bad yarn choice.
I told him to go ahead and wear that one while working in the basement workshop, where it's cold, and that I'd knit him another for Christmas this year.

I know Liana has had great success with the yarns from Bendigo woolen mills, which I've not tried. Does anyone else have any other great suggestions? Oh, that will also keep me at or under $150 for around 2100 yds.


Lindsay T said...

Marji, I am taking a knitting class and making a lacy scarf with YOs and K2s and stuff like that. Everyone in class loves my scarf but I'm just not feeling that knitting love thing. Yet. I may try learning crochet. Love seeing your fabulous stuff.

Elizabeth said...

Back when I was ferociously cranking out Arans, I made 5 of them in Plymouth Galway. It's reasonably inexpensive and they wore very well.

Mardel said...

I love posts like this, which compare different yarns. I still haven't made it over to Virtual Yarns, but I guess I should.

Lorraine said...

Marji- Do you like tweed? Kilcarra is a great buy, but some colors can compete with the cables.