Friday, February 22, 2008

Yarn Review

I'm going to try to do a regular feature in this blog of reviewing my experiences with yarn, perhaps some knitting and spinning tools as well. I'm starting today with yarn, because I fell in love with this one.

(click for bigger and brighter)

Here's their mission statement:
Rio de la Plata Yarns supports an old Uruguayan tradition of hand spinning of wool by wives of Gauchos (traditional horsemen). Gauchos used and still use hand made wool “Ponchos” for protection of the cold and dirt when guarding sheep. They play an important roll in Uruguay’s major source of income which is wool. This noble and harmless industry supplies a major part of the wool in the world. Uruguay has not changed much of its traditions producing it. Rio de la Plata Yarns is in the heart of this tradition, creating beautiful fibers and bucket dying them.

We are their link to the world in the sense that any knitter can create garments out of this beautiful hand dyed yarn that otherwise would be unknown to the world. When you buy our yarn you are supporting Uruguayan women who work at home and are able to spend time with their children and sometimes even pay for their own college education.
The Specs:
Yardage: 437 yards per hank
Weight: 3.5 oz per hank
Superwash Merino
Three ply

It's a tightly spun, smooth worsted preparation. It's not the softest yarn I've ever used, though it softens with washing, as does most yarns. It's very smooth to knit with and doesn't split easily. The grist is slightly variable, at times thinner than usual, very occasionally thicker, but it's not enough to affect the gauge of the knitted piece. It's three ply, using a non-repeating constantly changing color technique. It is superwash, so it's easy to care for. There's enough yarn in one skein to make a pair of socks.

The colorways are varied throughout the line and have charming names; this particular colorway has Vibrant Orange, Lime Green, Ethereal Blue, Evergreen, Pointsettia, and Yellow Corn. It does not stripe, so there's no concern about matching pattern repeats. There are several lines of the sock yarn; the above is from the "multicolor" line; there is also a solid and an "Artisian" line, as well as a "multisolid" line. Artisian seems to be more along the lines of a handpainted yarn. I believe that the difference between the Multicolor and the Multisolid lines is that in the multisolid, you have three distinct colors plied together, whereas in the multicolor line, each of the three plies will be multicolored. Solids are pretty self evident, but I will comment that the colors are incredible, and range from brilliant to muted (in the Autumn line).

I can't tell you how much fun this yarn was to knit with. It's got an almost cotton-y feel to it. The color changes are interesting to watch and keep long stockinette sections from being tedious. They list six colors as above, but because of the way the plies blend, there's pinks and corals and aquas and every color you can imagine. Because it's not splitty, I was able to knit a lacy type pattern with psso's and not constantly have to unsplit the stitches. Being a newish knitter, that's a common problem for me. I've completed one sock, and just finished the gusset decreases on the other, so I'll get pics up as soon as possible (probably several weeks....) As the socks are not yet complete, I don't have a review as to their wear, but I can extrapolate a few things. I'm pretty hard on my knitting. I tend to shove a project into a felted bag, pull it out every so often and do a few rows. I also happen to keep my wrist splint in that bag, and it has velcro straps. The two have met on occasion, to my horror. It seems to have survived fairly well. Toting them around, I have noticed that newly knit areas are smooth and clean, where older areas are a tad fuzzier, have more "bloom." I expect that is what will happen with wear and washing.

One caution; if you are hard on your socks, keep in mind that this yarn is 100% wool; there is no nylon added for strength. You might want to add some wooly nylon to the heels and toes for durability.

A few more cautions; the second half of this skein had THREE knots. Not a good thing. Also, I still have about an inch on to start the toe on the second sock, and I'm starting to fear I may not have enough yarn to finish. These socks are HUGE however; for a man's size 12, with a 8 inch leg. For a normal woman's size, it shouldn't be a problem.

Later Edit: The second half of the skein had SIX knots total. The socks looked lovely when finished; but even though this yarn is advertised as superwash, it felted slightly in the first wash. Luckily for me, they were too large, and felted to just the right size! But it is disturbing that the felting occurred in a yarn labeled superwash.

This yarn was a gift from my most favorite elder child, so I'm not sure of the cost of a skein; but reliable sources tell me you can expect to pay about $18-$20 per skein online, $20-$22 in your LYS. Pricey, yes. Worth it? Perhaps. If you keep the cautions in mind.

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