Monday, March 28, 2011

A Tale of Two Yarns

It was the best of yarns, it was the worst of yarns.

The point of today's post was to look at two yarns that you love or hate and talk about the specific aspects of each. But, since we're talking about contradictions here, I think I'm going to start with two yarns that I've used and loved at some point. One, I think many of you will agree with and the other, well, let's just say I hope you don't take me off your blog roll after this.

One of my all-time favorite yarns has to be Malabrigo Silky Merino.

Topaz: isn't this color just gorgeous!?
 I can never get over the sheen and drape of this yarn! In case you've never used it, Silky Merino is a single spun blend of merino wool and silk. It has excellent drape and the colors are so rich and vibrant. 

Diana's Blossom Scarf. Don't ask me who Diana is. I have no idea.
I was so excited when I was able to use Silky Merino in my design for Interweave Crochet. I had suggested this yarn because of the drape and its lightweight-ness. I think it's perfect for a fall or spring scarf. 

Cedar Leaf Shawlette
I think one of my Silky Merino dreams would be to knit a sweater in it but I'm afraid it might pill. That scares me. It also wet blocks out big. Like, a scarf can go from 50" to 70". Crazy big. So maybe a sweater isn't such a great idea. It's just so soft and lightweight I love the thought of having a whole garment. But maybe another Cedar Leaf Shawlette is called for instead?

Overall, Silky Merino is my go-to scarf yarn. I think I'll be making a yarn order after this.

The other yarn that I tend to use mainly for blankets that will be gifted is... wait for it... acrylic! (Cue ominous music)

Yes, I've said it. I use acrylic. My reasoning is that I generally don't trust my recipients. Afghans are big. Who is going to hand wash one? Not me. Superwash wool, you say? I'm on a tight budget and as much as I'd like to make myself an afghan out of Cascade 220 superwash, it's not quite in the cards right now. 

But it's not as bad as you think. I've started finding acrylic and acrylic blends that are inexpensive and actually soft. 

Berroco Comfort comes in all weights (sock, sport, DK, worsted, and chunky) and is a blend of nylon and acrylic. It is super soft (honest!) and for around three dollars a ball (about 200 yards each) it's a great price. 

The other acrylic I found to be really soft was Caron Simply Soft. I was a little hesitant with this one but it was really a nice yarn to work with. It washes like iron and is even softer afterward (at least I think so). Also, the price was great. I think I ordered 7 skeins for an afghan (about 300 yards each) and my price with shipping was about $27. Not bad, not bad.

I like to think that all yarns have a place. There are definitely more I'd like to try. I did a quick rummage through my stash and found seven skeins (some with partners!) that I haven't used or even tried before. 

On my list of things to try, (from bottom left to right) Madelinetosh Tosh Sock in Dahlia, Three Irish Girls Kells Sport Merino in Zuzu's Petals, Dream in Color Everlasting in Amethyst, Madelinetosh Tosh Lace in Cherry, Becoming Art Agave Heavy Fingering in Looking In, Becoming Art Suave Sport in Cranberry, Wollmeise 100% Merino Superwash in Rittersporn, and Shibui Knits Stacatto in Chrome.


  1. I hear you about the acrylic. Sometimes it's the smartest choice.

  2. It's fine to like acrylic and it's fine not to like it. It can be very soft and some blends are completely unbelievable. I prefer natural fibers for environmental reasons, but I definitely use acrylic. As mentioned above, sometimes it's the smartest choice.

  3. Just to confirm your fears: Silky mal as a sweater is a piller. I made one a couple of years ago and I still love it (and it didn't stretch out as much as you might expect, although I try not to let it get *soaking* wet and not to stretch it too much when I lay it out to dry) but it pilled immediately.

  4. I like your big pile of yarns to try. I feel like I don't branch out with my yarn selection enough.

    And I love that you mentioned acrylic because it really does have its place in knitting.

  5. Ooh, what a gorgeous bundle of yarn! I agree with you that Comfort is a great choice for washable knits. It's very soft. I've got a few skeins of the DK weight for some baby gifts. I haven't used Mal Silky Merino, but the Worsted is the same way. I just love the yarn, but my sweater knit from it does pill, especially under the arms.

  6. I have become a bit of a yarn snob BUT, I'm with you on using acrylics and acrylic blends for gifting afghans and such. Especially when you know it'll be thrown in the washer and maybe even the dryer!!

  7. I think it's important to choose the right yarn for a project! Every yarn has it's advantages and disadvantages. I generally prefer natural fibers for myself, but if I was going to knit a present for a friend's baby, I would use acrylic. So much easier to wash!

  8. I think you're completely right - there's always a time and a place for acrylic! I've never worked with Comfort before but I've oftentimes groped it at my LYS and been impressed with how natural it feels.

  9. I agree with all of you about the (dis)advantages of acrylic over other fibers. I love knitting with natural fibers, but if I'm spending hours on a gift I want to be sure the recipient will enjoy if for quite some time, so will use acrylic blends or superwash wools. My favorite is Berroco Vintage in all the weights, and would like to add Loops & Threads "Charisma" to the list of acrylics to use.

  10. Hey you! Love the blog, as always! You are on a roll! I love that cedar leaf!

    Hope to see ya soon! :)


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