Monday, October 27, 2014

Factors in Choosing Yarn

I buy a LOT of yarn, and much of it isn't purchased with a specific use in mind.  Here are some of the factors I use in deciding what I buy.


QueerJoe's Yarn Buying Factors

  1. Color - I try to stick with deep, saturated, smokey, broody colors.  Even vibrant jewel tones can fit into this category if the colors are rich and deep enough.
  2. Tactile Pleasure - The yarn has to have a pleasurable feel.  Soft, silky and drapey or ruddy, coarse and satisfying.  I just need to know that I will enjoy knitting with it.
  3. Fiber Content - Mostly, I go toward lamb's wool.  It's generally got more loft and has a structure to it.  Silk and alpaca are more drapey and create a less structured garment or fabric.  I tend to keep away from cotton or other plan fibers unless they're blended with something else.  Even acrylics can have a nice effect on plant-based fibers.
  4. Company - Unless I have some specific project in mind, I will always try to buy from independent yarn producers/dyers.  I love yarns like Cascade or Dale of Norway, but I can find them readily any time I need them.  I would much prefer to support smaller businesses trying to make their way in the world of yarn.

Recent Favorite Yarn Company

MJ Yarns by Jonathan Berner has recently caught my attention.


His colorways first caught my eye.  They have the rich, deep colors I love (and which mix well with the rest of my stash).

I also like his choice in base yarns.  Two in particular held a lot of interest...his Opulent Fingering weight in Merino (80%), Cashmere (10%) and Nylon (10%) and also his Light Fingering Weight in Corriedale (75%) and Nylon (25%) sounds like an ideal sock yarn.

I opted to start out with his Opulent Fingering Weight for my latest scarf project.  I'm always looking for stitch patterns that will blend two colorways of variegated yarn in an interesting way, and I like how my latest one came out with two yarns in MJ Yarns Opulent Fingering Weight.



Current Knitting

Finished up a scarf using the two MJ Yarns, and it allows me to review the yarns, and how they work when they're knit up.


Here's how I rate the yarn in various areas:

Durability - Very high.  This pattern is knitted lace or lace knitting...whichever one requires that you do increases and decreases on both sides of the fabric.  I had to rip it out and re-cast-on the entire project about 12 times.  I was also able to machine wash this particular scarf with no ill effects.

Uniformity - Very high.  MJ yarns gets a very high quality base yarn for this particular fiber

Color/Dyeing - High.  At first glance, I thought some of the colors intermixed to give the individual yarns a slightly muddy look, especially in the purplish colorway.  But the colors maintain distinct differences once knit up, and Jonathan's sense of colors is really quite fine.

Put-Up - Very High.  100 grams, 416 yards, spun with a medium twist and twisted into a hank that didn't tangle at all when I wound either of them into cakes, and not one knot in either of the two hanks.

Retail Availability - Good.  Not currently available in any of my local yarn stores, but readily available via the web at one of my favorite Rocky Mountain area yarns stores, Gypsy Wools.

Tactile Pleasure - Very High.  The merino, cashmere aspect make this yarn lofty, warm and soft.  It was a pleasure to knit with, even doing wrist-twisting stitches like purling to back of loop.  The resulting fabric has a wonderful drape, an no itchiness factor at all when worn directly near the face.





I plan on ordering some Simple Sock yarn from Gypsy Wools to see how I enjoy knitting MJ Yarns up into socks...I think the Corriedale/Nylon blend will be a perfect sock yarn.

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