Friday, February 26, 2010

Accidental Yarn Review

I am totally obsessed with making bowls! And felting them!  I meant for this post to be just a photo that I uploaded yesterday, but I got distracted.  So if you're interested in reading about me geeking out on yarn, then you're in the right place.

Crocheted bowls are super easy, very fast to make, and I've been testing out different types of wool yarn for the felting process.  I have an awesome spreadsheet tracking yards per ounce of wool and cost per yard, because I am a total geek!  And I love spreadsheets!

Here's my current list of wool, all in worsted weight:
My least favourite was the Harrisville New England Highland.  It was a nice colour, and it looked nice when I crocheted it into a bowl, but it smelled funny and felt coarse.  Then, after felting, it went completely shaggy--that was the first time I've ever had to clean my washing machine after using it.

Cascade 220 was the other highland wool--excuse me, Peruvian highland--and I had a similar post-felting cleanup experience.  I'm certain that I didn't get all of it out, since the next batch I felted had little red bits floating around.  But despite the cleanup, it barely took 20 minutes to felt (most of my tests required at least 40 minutes for felting, though I wasn't timing very religiously).  Overall I was actually impressed with the final product, as the bowls have a nice weight to them.

Nordique from St. Denis was my first non-Michaels/non-Jo-Ann wool purchase, so I am rather partial to it.  It took forever to felt, however, and I'm not even sure it felted entirely, since the stitches are still visibly separate.  I bought a couple of balls in the Aubergine colorway which was a beautiful amethyst shade, but I'm not sure I would pick up much that line again.

Since I started going to a bunch of smaller yarn shops, I have become something of a yarn snob.  I refuse to buy anything that has a lot of acrylic in the mix, because I think it feels too crunchy.  I love working with yarns made from natural fibres, because not only do they feel better and they look better.  And I like the idea of supporting a local yarn shop--my current favourite being Green Planet Yarn, in historic downtown Campbell.  I could never see them carrying Patons Classic Wool, but I have to be honest: it felts really easily, and the bowls look great.  I have no idea where the wool comes from, and I have no idea if their manufacturing process is ethical or whatnot, but it's a pretty decent yarn for felting, and I actually quite like it.  But I am trying to be snobby!  Oh, what a dilemma.

The merino wools I listed first, but have left for the last, because I liked those two the most.  The O-Wool took about an hour to felt to my liking, but the bowls looked great.  It didn't shrink as much as the Cascade 220 or the Shepherd's Wool, but the felted wool is nicer to the touch than the Cascade 220.  At $14/hank, it was definitely the most expensive, so although I like it very much, I'm not sure if I would buy it very often.
(As a side story, the first skein of O-Wool I bought was from the DK weight Balance line, which is 50% Merino, and 50% Cotton.  Only, I didn't realize that fact until much later, and I eventually gave up trying to felt it.  "Ben, this wool refuses to felt!  I don't know what's going on!")

Last but certainly not least is the Shepherd's Wool.  This has got to be the softest wool I have ever felt. Ever.  I just felted the bowls from that test, so they're still drying on the counter--we'll see if they actually make sturdy bowls (my comparison point is currently the Patons Classic Wool), but I'm not sure if I care.  The first time I worked with a carefully wound ball of Shepherd's Wool, I was cuddling it up to my cheeks.  The Pacifist Knight is made of Shepherd's Wool (not including his face, which is actually SWTC Yin in Harmony, the only skin-coloured yarn I could find), and he is pretty cuddly too.  Green Planet Yarn has a "sale" where for any one purchase during your birthday month, you can get between 20%-100% off of that purchase; I fully intend on going as soon as I can in March, to build up a Shepherd's Wool stash.  Then it will be bowl-a-bonanza. 


  1. I went to another knitting class on Saturday. I learned how to make a "2-hour hat" and I felt so good because I completed projects with my recent yarn purchases. But then I came home with 5 more skeins of yarn and two new patterns! I started on my first baby hat last night. :)

    I can totally relate to the yarn snob and local yarn shop comments. The shop I go to is a cute little store in downtown Grand Junction with the must stunning and yummy yarn. I'm going to save this post of your yarn review and will try hard not to buy more yarn until I complete projects with the stuff I just bought!

    Your bowls are AMAZING!!! I absolutely love the light purple in the lower right corner of the photo.

  2. The purple bowls at the lower right are the O-Wool classic in plum, and it's a nice, light amethyst shade.