Category Archives: Reviews

Wherein I test things out

Yarn Review: Sirdar Luxury Soft Cotton DK

Yarn reviewing time! Today I am putting Sirdar Luxury Soft Cotton DK though the gauntlet:

Sirdar Luxury Soft Cotton DK

You’ll be pleased to know that the yarn does in fact live up to its name. It’s very nice to handle and very drapey. That’s good because false advertising is an awful awful thing.

The swatch is knitted on 4mm needles. I know I went on about the importance of a garter stitch border in the last review but I’ve left it off on one edge so I can actually see how much rolling and stretching the yarn edge is subject to. I’ve not used a lot of cotton so its properties are a bit more of a mystery to me than all the animal fuzz I own. You can see it’s rolling a bit, but it’s not been blocked yet.

Sirdar Luxury Soft Cotton DK Swatch

Knitting with it is pretty easy on standard plastic-coated metal needles. It’s a very loosely spun yarn so it requires blunt tips and a little bit of grip on the needles or you’re going to end up with stray loops of thread all over the place. I certainly wouldn’t go for anything rougher because it’s also a heavy yarn and that would be too much like hard work on the hands.

As a general rule, I will choose the needles that allow me to bust out the stockinette and still pay attention to some particularly tense televisual entertainment, like The Wire or early X-files (Oh Mulder! Can’t you see that getting too close to the truth only gets you punched in the face??).

But I digress. The yarn label states that it is machine washable at 40°C and it holds up well. Before washing the stitch gauge was 5.5 sts/7.25rws per inch. Then it stretched out to 5.7sts/8rws per inch…and after hanging the swatch up for a day, it sagged back to the pre-washing gauge. So I guess the lesson is, any horizontal blocking cancels out when you wear anything made from this?

So here is the swatch after getting good and busted up. It’s eeeeeeeever so slightly faded and it’s not rolling quite so much at the plain edge. Those loose ends got tatty quickly though, so I’ll be joining any ends with a decent Russian join.

Oh and here’s a closeup of the pilling…

I gave it a good ruffling and it wound up looking worn pretty quickly. I’m not sure how well the photos show this, but it seems like a yarn that isn’t going to stay pristine for long. Certainly not something to make clothes out of unless you aren’t bothered about stitch definition.

My verdict: Soft and casual-looking yarn that would be best for drapey clothing. Absolutely no point making anything hard-wearing like a bag out of this, but I am planning a nice T-shirt with it.

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Yarn Review: Rowan Kid Classic

I’m sure you know the process for buying new yarn. You go to a shop and spend some quality time squishing it. Then you buy that yarn, take it home, squish it some more for luck and plan your project. Then you knit and test a tension square. Right? So you can be sure the resulting garment will fit you properly? So you can tell how the fabric behaves after blocking and wearing and stuff? Right? I certainly do, because I’m all diligent and find the idea of wasting months on a project that isn’t quite right just painful. Besides, you need to squish the fabric too.

Stitch gauge, that’s your own business. No-one can help you with that. Yarn behaviour after use (and abuse) though, there’s something that can be reliably documented on the internet!

Join me now, as I take my recent yarn purchases and pummel the crap out of them.

First up is Rowan Kid Classic, a.k.a. spring-in-a-ball. Not only is it egg-yolk yellow, it’s made from the fleeces of baby sheep and goats. Totally springy! I’ve liked it from afar for a while and eventually bagged a load of it for cheap on t’internets (thank you Black Sheep!).

The label recommends 5 – 5.5mm needles but pfffffffft, this stuff is DK weight if I ever saw it. I have a very specific project in mind for this yarn: the swishy Manu cardigan. My square is therefore on the required 3.75mm needles.

Remember: Garter stitch borders keep your knitting flat and easy to measure!

Before washing, I measured the gauge at 6st/8rws to the inch. After washing and blocking…much the same. It just looked a bit neater, so the above picture is the blocked one. Bonus! That’s the exact gauge I was after for the cardigan! Not all yarns behave that well, I’ve had some yarns get waaaay bigger after washing. I am certainly giving Kid Classic points for predictability.

Kid Classic is a fuzzy yarn and I wish to see what that fuzz is going to do after I’ve worn it umpteen times like I’m totally gonna (seriously look at this magnificent cardigan). Let’s check out the fuzz after one wash and also, check out the macro function on my camera…

That would be all the kid mohair giving it that halo. It’s not at all itchy against my skin, which is another plus. The fabric feels nice and drapey but it’s still thick. This cardigan is going to be very warm. Looks so neat too…welp, time to give it hell. FOR SCIENCE.

First we conduct a basic stretch test. I hang up the swatch, then I hang three full balls of Kid Classic from it overnight. This is to simulate the weight of the final garment on any given area of knitting. The bulldog clip adds weight too, but that’s cool because I intend to fill the cardigan pockets with trinkets anyhow.

Stretch Test

My super-classy experimental setup, with clothes horse.

The result? All that stretching barely affected the square. It was something like 7.75 rows per inch instead of 8 and after a quick shake, it snapped back to 8 again. It’s good to know my cardigan can hold many, many trinkets and spare change without consequence.

Test number 2: Tougher still. Stick it in the washing machine spin cycle with some heavier items. If that’s not a good homebrew wear simulator, I don’t know what is…

Result: Again! The swatch comes out unchanged! Sure it’s a little fluffier, but not in a way I can capture on camera. More importantly, that fluff appears to be entirely mohair and as such is not gathering into lumpy pills.

MY 100% SCIENTIFIC CONCLUSION: The softness of lambswool with the resilience of mohair? Rowan, you have earnt that reputation! This is an amazingly well behaved, soft, fuzzy yarn. I give it both thumbs up and am casting on immediately. Hooray!

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