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February 1, 2006

I'm Wondering....

This Wednesday, I'm wondering...

What's your favorite cotton/synthetic blend?

I'm looking for the perfect yarn for my Olympic Sweater, and I'd love input! Here are the rules of the game:

  1. No animal fibers. This includes wool, angora, cashmere, alpaca, etc.
  2. No 100% cotton. If I knit only pure cotton for 16 straight days, my arms will be in casts by the time the flame goes out. Also, the synthetics help with durability.
  3. Must be machine washable. How can it become my new Favorite Sweater if I have to hand wash it?
  4. Gauge should be between 4 and 5.5 stitches per inch (ETA: that would be 16-22 stitches over four inches. Duh.). I want it to look sophisticated -- but I don't want it to take a dog's age to knit.
  5. Should come in grown-up colors.

And here are the Olympic sweater hopefuls.

  • Valley Yarns Longmeadow: Meets all of the above criteria, but I don't know anybody who's used it.
  • Debbie Bliss Cathay: I love this yarn, but I'm worried about the growth factor. If you've worked with it: does it only grow once (when you wash it the first time), or does it just keep growing between washes? How annoying is this?
  • Rowan Calmer: What more can I say? It's Calmer.
  • Rowan All Seasons Cotton: A strong contender, though the gauge is a bit big.
  • The GGH family: Samoa, Bali, and Java. Of the three, I think I'd lean toward Samoa or Bali --but I'd love to hear about all of them.
  • Your ideas. So let's hear 'em!

    Judge's Note: The rules are a bit flexible. In fact, you'll notice that some of my contenders already violate them! So if you've got a yarn you think would be perfect, please do tell me about it even if it's a rule-breaker. (Unless it breaks the "no animal fibers" rule. That one's non-negotiable, unless you also have a cure for allergies.)

    Special thanks to Colleen and Lisa who helped brainstorm this list with me!

    Posted by shannon at February 1, 2006 12:50 PM | For related posts: Wondering Wednesday


    perfect for when you're on a budget, tlc cotton plus. 51 cotton/49 acrylic, more or less DK to worsted weight, comes in some decent colors (black, red, white, a bright lime green, a light purple, a few others -- not a huge selection of colors), it wears well, is washable. I've substituted it for calmer before with success and I've used it on a lot of toddler knits (washable, durable, inexpensive!).

    I've found Cathay expands at the first wash and then stretches a lot while you wear it as well... though that depends on design/etc.

    Posted by: jess at February 1, 2006 1:21 PM

    Elann's Endless Summer Lara? It's 57% rayon/43% cotton, gauge is 5.5 sts/in, and it's machine washable. I love cotton/rayon blends -- they tend to have great drape and sheen so they look quite grown-up and elegant even with a simple pattern.

    Posted by: J Strizzy at February 1, 2006 1:39 PM

    I've heard good things about Cathay and Calmer, but unfortunately have never used them. Good luck with your search. Oh and I love the Child's Placket Neck sweater you made too. Very cute!

    Posted by: Wanda at February 1, 2006 9:16 PM

    Cotton Ease. I know it has an uneven following. There are definitely some neon colors, but there are also some grown up colors -- blueberry is very nice and wearable. They still have CE at Windsor Button.

    Posted by: Kathy at February 1, 2006 9:58 PM

    Another vote for TLC Cotton Plus. I used it for a sweater for Spencer and the resulting fabric is beautiful---nice drape, not too thick (or too hot) . . . it comes in a ton of colors, too. And it's inexpensive!

    Posted by: Amy Gray at February 2, 2006 10:21 AM

    If there's a Fabric Place near you, you might want to check them out. The one nearish to me tends to have an excellent selection of synthetics and blends, in adult colors. Have you tried the soy or bamboo yarns? I haven't and don't know whether they are as miserable to knit with as cotton.

    Posted by: Martha at February 2, 2006 11:20 AM

    Hi, I just have to tease you about the gauge: "4 to 5.5 sts over four inches". I know you meant per inch, but I keep seeing huge strands of yarn in my head with a guage of about 1 st/inch. Love it.

    Posted by: Annette P. at February 2, 2006 1:06 PM

    I like Hand Work Cora from elann.com but I think they are our of the nice colors.

    Austerman Mayfair from elann is nice, it comes in some nice colors. So is the Endless Summer Luna, very pretty.

    I like knitting with Cotton Ease but the colors are bright, I've not yet tried TLC Cotton Plus but hope to soonish.

    Webs usually has quite a few on sale in the discount part of the website yarn.com. I often look there, you can search by gauge and then just have to look at the fiber.

    Posted by: emily at February 2, 2006 1:32 PM

    I'm going to be at Webs this weekend. Do you want me to pick up a ball of Valley Yarns Longmeadow for you to swatch with?

    I'll be back in town on Monday (I work in Cambridge) and can arrange to meet you somewhere, if you are in the immediate Boston area too. That should still give you enough time to swatch and place a pre-Olympics order.

    Posted by: Danielle at February 2, 2006 3:10 PM

    Ok, this does have some wool in it.... but Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece has a lovely drape. And with a smidge of wool (10% I believe), it does have some bounceback.

    Posted by: Zabet at February 2, 2006 4:53 PM

    I received the Berroco Knit Bits this morning, one of their new yarns, Touche (with the accent over the "e") might be something for you to consider:


    Posted by: Colleen at February 3, 2006 9:25 AM

    I've made two sweaters from Rowan Handknit DK, and it was wonderful to work with. All Seasons Cotton is wonderful, too.

    I have some Jaeger Aqua in the stash and it fits the specs, but I haven't worked with it yet.

    Posted by: Ruth at February 3, 2006 9:33 PM