Monday, March 28, 2011

A Tale of Two Yarns

I am (almost belatedly but I got it together right at the last minute. Way to go, self!) hopping on board with the second annual International Knitting and Crochet Blog Week. Because fun and awesome and a heap of other superlatives. Thanks to Eskimimi for doing such a gorgeous job organizing this event.

So, onto the, you know, actual post.

Part of any fibre enthusiast’s hobby is an appreciation of yarn. Choose two yarns that you have either used, are in your stash or which you yearn after and capture what it is you love or loathe about them.

Ok, here's my thought process on winnowing down the options to just two. While there are many, many yarns and I'm sure to have many, many opinions it seems best to talk about what I use the most frequently. And thus my two workhorse yarns, the ones I return to time and time again and take up the most room in my house.

Yarn the First:

Cascade 220, shown here in 'Natural' one of approximately nine million available colors.

If I was of a poetical nature I would put an ode here, perhaps a sonnet. Maybe a limerick. But sadly, that's not the way my brains work so let me try something else.

What doesn't this yarn do? Precluding sensitivities or allergies, it's comfortable next to the skin, it launders well, it shows off pretty much any pattern devised by clever knitters and crocheters, it loves to take dye, and it never asks anything of you. Ever. This is not a yarn that needs to be coddled. Well, it asks to be kept away from bugs and cats, but really, that's not unreasonable. And it's quick to forgive you if your wool chewing cat spends a little too much time patiently licking at the ball with a contented look on his face.

I can think of exactly two downsides (again, excluding sensitivities and allergies to the things of a wooly nature) the first also being one of it's strengths.

It is by it's nature not something that calls attention to itself. You will never be wearing a garment made of 220 and have someone coo over the yarn. If you want to make something that sings in stockinette, 220 is probably not the right choice.

The second, is that while it will takes all manners of abuse it's not actually indestructible. Which brings us to

Yarn the Second:

Caron Simply Soft, shown here in here in 'Blue Mint', part of the 'Brites' collection.

I make a lot of toys. To the point where I have to wonder if there's something to the occasional accusation that I'm the poster child for Peter Pan Syndrome. Happily, I have a niece and happily I can foist what I make onto her with little to no fuss.

And believe me, stuffed toys is where Simply Soft shines. Literally and figuratively.

Because it doesn't pretend to be anything but plastic it's slippery enough that it won't fight you while you make the required super tight fabric required to keep stuffing from poking through. And then, once it's been turned into whatever anthropomorphic animal has struck my fancy I can chuck it in the washing machine followed by the dryer and with a little bit of a massage to get the stuffing back where it belongs it looks like new.

These are toys that don't mind being barfed on, sharing whatever sticky drink or food the kid is currently eating or taking a ride in the toilet. Because again: washer + dryer = like new.

Again two downsides. Like I said, it doesn't pretend to be anything but plastic. You'll never once hold it against your cheek and sigh dreamily. If you were to hold it against your cheek you might end up with heat rash. So I avoid that whenever possible.

Secondly, it's splitty. Using blunt knitting needles or crochet hooks solves most of that, but I have noticed that I crochet a little differently when I use it versus another yarn. This is an adjustment I don't remember making, but obviously an adjustment had to be made and how annoying that may be will depend on the crafter.

And there. Two yarns, and some opinions. They are neither the best of yarns nor the worst of yarns, but I would truly be lost without them.


  1. You are the 2nd person I've read today who has praised Caron SS. I will have to try it. Maybe they'll give you a royalty or something. It's only fair.

  2. Oooh, I wouldn't mind a royalty in the least bit! Especially if it came in the form of some freebie yarn.

    I do really recommend it, it's one of the best acrylics I've ever used.

  3. lol at the heat rash! I need to try this cascade stuff, I'm so scared of buying yarn online (and I heart my lys, so maybe I won't!)

    I hope you don't give all the toys to your niece!

  4. I have yet to meet a Cascade yarn I don't like for one thing or another. I'm lucky though, my LYS has an entire wall dedicated to 220. It's like staring at a woolly rainbow, I love it.

    And yeah, I'd be lying if I said that my niece gets all of the toys. And I can't even say that the ones that do live here with me are in the toy box I keep for when she visits.