When I performed the first Knit British swatch along test – a Hand/Squish/Grab – on my ball of Ryeland wool, it took me back to a childhood memory. A memory of sitting on my father’s knee being read too, my cheek brushing against his Aran jumper. It was a nice surprise, but not the only one of my Ryeland swatch along experience.
My second surprise came as I knitted. At first the yarn felt overly firm, as if the fibres were slightly stiff. However, having knitted a few rows I found the yarn inside the ball much softer, the fibres more relaxed.
The final knitted piece was a wee bit crisp, but on washing it lost this quality and a day’s wear and a second wash yielded a very much softer, delightful, bouncy fabric. Another surprise, as I had thought the biggest change would occur with the first wash.
Although it didn’t feel at all prickly to touch, my swatch did irritate more sensitive areas – namely my chest, neck and the inside of my thigh – not such a disappointment as I’m not planning on knitting trousers. The irritation, however, did reduce after the second wash.
Overall there were definitely more plusses than minuses. The ryeland was very easy to knit, didn’t shed or split and gave great stitch definition. It also didn’t show any inclination to pill or felt with wear and washing. A beautiful creamy colour, I think it’s just perfect for warm Aran jumpers, cardigans and accessories.
Well that’s my summary, but if you want to read the geeky bit, full details of ryeland road test are below.
Now all I have to decide is what yarn I want to road test next. Is anyone else joining in with the swatch along? Still not to late to join in if you want too.
Time to put the Christmas lights up in our house this weekend. What are you planning on doing?
Ryeland Road Test
Wool Category Fine
Form 50g ball
Preparation Woollen Spun
Brand Blacker Yarns
On first grab what does the wool feel like? Soft, firm, but bouncy
Cast on: 46 stitches on 4mm needles (5mm recommended but I wanted to try a denser fabric).Knitted a mixture of cables and twists and a dash of stocking stitch.
What does this yarn feel like to knit with? Soft, but also overly firm – as if the fibres were standing to attention. – almost as if it was slightly synthetic. However after a few rows the wool inside the ball felt softer, less firm and more wool-like. It was very easy to knit. Zero splitting. Zero shedding.
Unwashed swatch: Stocking stitch, 28 rows x 21sts to 10 x 10 cm Pattern: 32 rows x 26 stitches to 10 x 10 cm Feels soft and bouncy, but a little too crisp.
Wash, Block and Wear – Test 1
Soaked for an hour hand wash detergent. Blocked to 8.5cm long 9.5cm wide for 24 hours. Unpinned after two days. Although there had been no visible grease in the washing water, the crispness had gone. The swtch was softer and still bouncy.
I put this swatch under my bra strap. It didn’t feel prickly, but after 10 minutes my upper chest was being irritated. My arm was fine, so I moved it into my sleeve. I was aware of the different, but not prickly, texture for about ten minutes then forgot it was there until it fell out at bedtime.
Observances after test 1:
No pilling whatsoever over the face of the fabric.
Wash, Block and Wear – Test 2
Left soaking two hours this time – forgot it was there. Blocked again to 8.5cm long 9.5cm wide for 24 hours.
Much, much softer when I unpinned it – delightfully and surprisingly a lot bigger change than after first wash. Still irritated my upper chest and neck when left it against them for 5 – 10 minutes.
Day one: Wore for a few hours in various places to see if anywhere else irritated. All fine and almost instantly unaware of it’s presence – apart from inside my thigh.
Day two: Wore inside my shoe – with foot bare for several hours to give a good battering. Very soft and pleasant against my foot. Pattern flattened somewhat in areas of greatest pressure, but springiness returned after a few hours rest. No signs of pilling or felting still. Blocked measurements maintained apart from across pattern – which has reduced to 9inches width.
Feel: Swatch is soft, thick, stretchy, bouncy. Softer when washed.
Life, longevity and uses of this wool:
I think this wool will continue to soften ever-so-slightly with each wash and block. No signs of pilling, but woollen spun, so may pill over longer use?
Suited to outerwear rather than next to the skin -although I think soft enough for gloves and socks. Cables and twists will hold their pattern and it was certainly a lovely warm fabric to wear.
Having also a beautiful creamy colour, Ryeland is ideal for lovely warm Aran jumpers and cardigans. Great, I think for gloves and hats too. I’m also thinking it might be perfect to knit a throw for our bed – good looking and will be a great extra layer to keep the chills out on a cold winter’s night.