Tag Archives: yarn review

Yarn Review: Erika Knight Vintage Wool

This review comes as the direct result of yarn envy.

For the last few weeks, Faye of Buttons and Beeswax has been bringing the prototype of her latest design along to our local Stitch ‘n’ Bitch group. It uses Erika Knight Vintage Wool and I have been shamelessly coveting the heck out of it.
Faye has very kindly given me some of her leftover yarn and now I am gonna review this delightful stuff!

Vintage Wool is Aran-weight, 100% British wool and is also spun in Yorkshire. It’s as British as a nice cup of tea and a sit-down. This wool is very soft and silky which makes it an instant winner, and  it’s quite loosely plied as well. The combination gives a result that I just love getting my fingers into (hence the coveting). I mean seriously, this yarn is freakin squooshy!

The colourway here, ‘Wisteria’ is a somewhat unusual lilac which I admit I struggled to photograph accurately. I’m not a fan of lilac, but it’s a surprisingly versatile shade; There’s a whole lot of  pink and grey undertones, which can be seen through the entire range, keeping it all nice and cohesive for colourwork.

I had absolutely no quibbles with Vintage Wool whilst swatching; it’s incredibly easy on the fingers because of how silky it is. No splitting either!

The swatch was knitted on the recommended 5mm needles.

Before washing

And after washing!

As you can see, it doesn’t relax a great deal after washing, but it does ‘bloom’ a little. I make the final gauge to be 18sts and 26 rows in a 4″ x 4″ square.

What fabric properties stand out? Well, this is a very soft, warm and drapey swatch, with only a little fuzzy halo. The stitches have blended together quite well after washing, but were quite easy to unravel prior to that.

Of course, I always make sure to do a thorough stress test of my swatches! I stretched it out with weights and gave it a whole load of friction to see how it wears…

One of the more notable characteristics is that the fabric seems to be quite inelastic for wool. It took a fairly long time to snap back after being pulled down by weights. A quick shake sorted it right out though, so no permanent distortion was caused.

My totally scientific friction test showed that Vintage Wool doesn’t actually pill very quickly, which is good. Obviously, it does eventually, as wool is wont to do, but for such a soft and loose yarn it’s quite tough.

It’s hardly original but I would use Vintage Wool for scarves and hats – I think it’s just the thing to wrap in large quantities around your face! It strikes me as very good for colourwork, in the way the stitches blend after washing. The thoughtfully planned colour range helps a great deal too. I can also picture making a giant cosy cardigan in Vintage Wool. Garments with negative ease may not work so well though, just because of that slight inelasticity.

All in all, I had a lot of fun playing with this stuff! Maybe I could squeeze a hat out of the rest of that yarn cake??

Erika Knight Vintage Wool is available in various online stores, such as:

Loop Knitting

Deramores

The Yarn Cafe

******

More of my reviews can be found here.

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Yarn Review: Excelana 4-ply

A while back I got some little sample skeins of yarn with my pre-ordered copy of A Stitch in Time Vol. 2. I think it’s about time to review them!

This is Excelana 4-ply, a reproduction ‘vintage’ yarn brand owned by Susan Crawford, which complements the many, many reproduced vintage knitting patterns she has under her belt.

Excelana

It is 100% British wool, spun from the fleece of the Exmoor Blueface, which is a cross between the Exmoor Horn and the Bluefaced Leicester. It’s extremely soft and light for pure wool and it has a slightly silky sheen to boot. The long fibres make it smooth and also very tough; almost impossible to break with bare hands.  If I didn’t know better I would assume some fancier fibres had been mixed in. Also, it smells pleasingly sheepy!

I knitted it up on the recommended 3mm needles. Excelana behaved itself very well during the knitting. It sticks to itself like most pure wools, but it’s smoothness makes it flow off the fingers nicely. Having recently done a whole lot of knitting with Shetland wool, I quickly noticed how warm Excelana is by comparison. The resulting fabric is quite plump at a gauge of 28st/36rws per 4in. A pretty versatile thickness; something for both spring and autumn and indoor winterwear.

Here’s the swatch before and after blocking. Quite a difference isn’t it? That ‘before’ picture was the flattest I could get it to lie!

Washing it actually changed the feel of fabric quite a lot. The wool bloomed and didn’t form a ‘halo’ so much as a ‘protective mesh’. I suppose this is down to the long fibres again. The fabric stayed soft, but took on a faintly steely quality.  As you can see the washing also did nothing to reduce the silky sheen or the crisp stitch definition.

Now I like to put my yarns through a stress test as well and this is where Excelana showed it’s more interesting qualities. You can stretch this stuff to hell and back! I hung 400g (a full jumper’s worth of wool) off the square overnight and it snapped back to it’s original gauge with a quick shake. I’ve distorted it every whichway and have nothing to show for it.

The stretchiness is part of what makes it ‘vintage’. Most older patterns rely on negative ease to shape jumpers – think the clingy sweaters of the 50s – so of course you would need a wool that holds it’s shape.

I tested for pilling as well.  Excelana does not pill easily, but the surface fuzz did start to roll up after a judicious application of friction. The stitches themselves however, remained untouched. So, nothing you couldn’t fix with a razor.

Excelana, in conclusion, is soft and delicate with an iron constitution. As well as vintage jumpers I think this would be great for winter gloves. I’m quite certain anything you made with it would last and last, in the true spirit of bygone days when that’s what clothes were supposed to do.

I should note here that I also own some Excelana in ‘Ruby Red’; the dyeing process produces a slightly harsher wool. It’s still perfectly nice mind you, but the difference is there.

Of course, I got two samples in the post so look out for the second yarn review soon!

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