Sunday, July 16, 2006

Friend or Foe?

Having decided to go ahead and get started on the Glamour Cape, I ordered 960m of yarn ("Storm" in the jade colourway) from Texere, at the bargain price of £1.90 per 240m. I am a little suspicious of anything being sold at "bargain" prices, as it's normally a false economy, the truth being, sadly, that you get what you pay for. That's why I normally prefer to spend huge amounts on Noro and the like. I know what I'm getting and I like it.

So, my bargain yarn arrives and I rip open the package to be greeted by the first warning sign - the smell, a sort of woolly smell, but more like wool mixed with some kind of chemical. Then, I touch it and it feels like I could knit a lovely mat with it. A really tough sort of mat. True, the colour is lovely, much more green than these photos suggest, and there are flecks of all colours running through it, together with a thread of black which is twisted along the whole length of the yarn. Dismayed but not deterred I wondered if washing it might disguise the smell and soften it up and a quick dunk in Fairy Bio and Comfort really did perform an almost-miracle. The test swatch came out feeling soft and pliable, smelling completely divine and looking fluffy like a dog that's just had its annual shampoo.

Nevertheless each row is now 330 stitches and rising by 30 more every fourth row, and this yarn (still in its disgusting, smelly, mat-like state) is killing my fingers. No kidding, it's hard work and now I know what people mean when they say "oh, this yarn, it knits itself", or "it feels like butter". Because that's what I've always knitted with before and never appreciated. I can put up with this as long as the finished item is wearable. But can my washing and blocking skills manage such a heavy and large garment (without completely ruining it)?

The pattern is so easy - I was mistaken in thinking I'd need assistance. And I've knitted my first hem with three needles. Oh boy, that was so satisfying I want to do it again. It remains to be seen whether the cape will ever fit, due to having hardly stuck to the pattern where numbers of stitches are concerned. But we'll see. I'll show you the finished article however it turns out. One thing is for certain: if it turns out well it will have been such a bargain at less than £8.00!

Added a few hours later: How could I have been so rude as to forget to thank you all for your much-appreciateed comments on Ella? Thanks to everyone!


  1. If it turns out really tough, you can always use it as a matador cape for fighting rhinos, so long as you remember not to wash it. I like the colourway you've chosen.. colourfully wintery. I wonder if one of those colour analysts would put you as one of the 'winter' colours.
    It's not hard in the gnarly sense, but cotton glace is another yarn that feels completely different when washed. It starts off like parcel twine and ends up like a dishcloth.. funny stuff.
    Anyway, you're making good headway with the cape, aren't you?

  2. the washed bit is lovely and sparkles, I say plod on and see what happens, but sorry about the painful knitting. dont do too much at a time. I know I am very quick to drop stuff that does not flow.

  3. I bought a load of exactly that yarn (Storm in Jade, from Textere)when I first started knitting and also found it rough and slightly distasteful because it seemed to have a lot of impurities in it. But I knitted my very first project with it - a garter stitch bag which was loose and unusable. But a couple of months later I put it in the hot wash and it felted beautifully - it really did. I've still got quite a bit left and plan to do more felted bags one day.
    Don't know whether this helps you. I now think are the best place for cheapish yarn. And their shipping charge is almost the same as Textere's even though they're about 4000 miles away.

  4. Thanks, Frankie. That does help because:
    1. If it turns out okay I won't put it in the washing machine
    2. If it doesn't, I might put it in the machine and then make it into a bag.
    3. If I have any left over I'll make a bag!
    Also, thanks for reminding me about the Handpainted Yarns. I looked there before, after you mentioned them on your blog and I was surprised at their reasonable shipping charges. Texere do charge a lot.

  5. Some of the coned yarns at texere have oil in them. In fact most are industrial They feel hard,like string and are plyed tighter than hand knitting yarns. they are used for weaving, machine knitting and can be uesd for hand knitting. I was told years ago if using coned do a swatch -wash and measure.Yes it can be hard on your hands but when washed, sometimes twice, they can be incredibly soft.

  6. Thanks, Wendy. That's helpful and it explains the oil smell.

  7. Sometimes you just wish you could wash the yarn before you start working with it don't you? I thought that a bit with the sari silk yarn I was using. Smelled musty, but looks great in my bag...though the strap has grown so much I've got the shorten it! Teach me not to line the strap. Thinks for the heads up on the online shop though! I lost two of my Inox aluminum double pointed needles and could find the 2.5 I needed! But they have it!!! Plus I can sneak on a needle felting wooden handle and more needles...well you can't just buy something for under £2...can you???/

  8. It's strange how big a difference the yarn can make. I remember when I first started knitting with some Debbie Bliss Pure Silk... lovely! I suppose knitting with the rough helps you really appreciate the smooth.

  9. Looks great, very audrey hepburn..