Saturday, March 13, 2010

All Hail Kid Mohair, bantamweight champ! ;-)

I have always admired yarns like kid mohair from a distance. But my knitting instincts tend toward practical/serviceable garments and yarns, so I doubted I could do justice to these fine yarns (and accompanying fine prices! ;-) )

But I recently received a donation of lovely lilac Jo Sharp fingering-weight kid mohair yarn, so it turned out to be the perfect opportunity for an experiment (Bwahahahahaa! evil rubbing of hands)

As it so happens (I am absolutely staggered by the frequency of these yarn coincidences!) I was JUST about to embark upon a super-bulky yoke-style pullover sweater using Ester Bitran hand-dyed wool yarn in violet and terracotta (I would not have chosen this combination of colors, personally, but who am I to second-guess an artist's vision? ;-) ) so I decided to carry-along the kid mohair strand throughout (except collar and cuffs; I didn't want to inadvertently irritate the sensitive skin at the neck and wrists).

Unlike regular mohair, which 'blooms' immediately on the fabric surface and makes its presence known, the kid mohair added just a faint 'peach fuzz' effect (you can't even see it in the photo). But its effect on fabric thickness and warmth factor were immediate - in fact, it got so hot I couldn't even work with the sweater in my lap (well, if that isn't a qualification for a4A sweaters, I don't know what is :-) ) So by all important measures, I am declaring this experiment an unqualified success!!

For my next project, I am going to switch it up and try to improve my nascent crochet skills - a high-neck double-breasted cardigan-vest with wooden toggle buttons using double-stranded worsted-weight yarn and a 6.5mm (K/10.5) hook (I want a chunky/sturdy fabric - I hope this will do the trick).
Stay tuned!!


Elizabeth D said...

Nandini, I'm curious -- I'm a longtime knitter, but still a basic crocheter, and it seems to me that crocheting with a double strand of yarn is likely to make an uncomfortably thick or stiff fabric. And, for A4A, openwork isn't an option, so you can't do that to soften it up . . have you done a sample? What does it feel like? I find that the crocheting I've done with a single strand of yarn feels quite thick enough for a sweater. Not trying to sound argumentative -- just trying to picture a double strand of anything thicker than sock yarn coming out flexible and comfortable to wear!

Nandini said...

It's surprisingly flexible yet warm - probably because the pattern I'm using is primarily dc (double-crochet). A pattern that is primarily sc or even hdc might have been stiffer. I made an identical vest for my sister last year using Lopi (even thicker than double-stranded worsted) and she says she has no problem with stiffness or thickness. I took my cue from that.

Cathy said...

I'm with you, Nandini...violet & terra cotta wouldn't be my first choice of colors to put together, but your sweater turned out so nice. Good thing I can rely on artists to put these colors together for me...otherwise my palette would be mighty small.

Good luck w the crochet vest.

Afghan Ann said...

Based on our experience with seeing thousands of knit and crochet garments in the Basement, I want to state here for anyone reading that, indeed, using 2 strands of worsted-weight or a bulky yarn for crochet often does produce a a fabric that is too thick and bulky to be worn well. (Hence, in the past, we have not distributed the donated bulky yarn to crocheters. The product would be more like a carpet.) The structure of the crochet stitch is inherently dense and less stretchy. Crocheting a sweater or vest can be very challenging -- less forgiving than knitting. For example, underarm gusset space. Something to keep in mind.

Density is not the only attribute that makes a warm garment. Alpaca is one of the warmest fibers around because of the way it traps air for insulation. A thin alpaca sweater can be very warm! Mohair is awesome - warm and strong -- and, in general, Afghans are not as fussy/sensitive as we are about super softness (like Merino). Their lives are rough in many many ways.

Worsted-weight yarn -- with the correct needle/hook and gauge -- is very practical as is. Moreover, doubling the yarn means one sweater instead of two. Or, spending twice as much on yarn! However you want to view it.

One of the most terrific crochet sweater patterns we have seen is a rather thin-ish yarn cardigan. We posted a photo of Pamela's crochet cardigan last year (she has also made a vest version) ... the fabric had such a nice hand ...

In any case, if one can find a kid to test-fit, nothing beats that approach.

Thanks, Ann

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