I have a terrible problem with colourmartUK. All that cashmere. I get a bit flushed (fans self).
There is a fair accumulation of coned yarn around the place at this point, and somewhere in my recent swatch frenzy, I started experimenting with how to get the best out of it. Originally I was charmed by coned yarn because of the lack of ends to weave in - so efficient! - but the oils make it hard to predict bloom and final gauge. And anyway, if I'm going to bother to knit with something exquisite, I would enjoy wringing every last ounce of tactile pleasure from it, instead of running the harshness of machine oils through my fingers for 1800 yards.
Once I discovered that it was completely possible to fit one 150 gram cone of dk cashmere in a single niddy-noddy load AND that it all fits neatly and easily into one ball-winder ball, well, it became open season on the cones.
Autumn Tweed was an early acquisition, almost 2 years ago when I first discovered ColourMart. A very soft 2 ply, it actually looked good enough to work with on the cone. This one responded very well to hot water, sink and hand agitation and though I am sure it shrank a bit, it was not noticeable to my eye.
In the picture, the coned strand looks nearly the same as the washed skein, but a side by side of a washed and unwashed skein shows (or it least it would if I had not apparently failed to photograph this stage) at least a third greater volume and a significantly softer texture. The construction is two plies of a very soft single and I expect was originally intended to be knit on idustrial machines into a sweater. I love it. Can't wait to knit it.
This other yarn - also from ColourMart - is a much less soft 6 ply. The vendor takes fine singles for weaving, twists them into two-ply laceweight and then plies 3 strands of two ply and I have to admit that though I adore the color - olive heather - I was initially disappointed.
The resulting yarn arrived looking a little bit strandy and felt a bit hard and I didn't see how it could turn into something nice to wear and knit. I washed a skein in the sink a few weeks ago with detergent and hot water and a plunger - a successful technique with the first yarn
- and it improved. But not enough. It didn't bloom. It didn't feel like cashmere. I wasn't satisfied. Saturday I decided it was worth a potential 35 dollar loss to learn more.
On this intellectual whim, I stuck it in a small (to minimize freedom of movement) lingerie bag in a load of towels, with regular laundry detergent (BioKleen) and a warm wash, warm rinse. Extreme skeinwashing. Maybe even Xtreme.
I may have been a little feverish.
When it came out, I was sad. Oh I was sad.
Very, very sad.
But I'm a determined woman. I pulled and stretched and yanked.
I cranked the swift as wide as I could.
The autumn cashmere skein - which fits completely over the green one - was wound on the same niddy noddy.
20% loss? 25%?
But it looks pretty.
Not felted. Not matted. And soft. Like luxury air. Like cashmere.
I think I can see a difference.
I can feel it too.
A few quick calculations caused me to run and quick order another skein, since there's no denying there was some significant yardage lost to this experiment. I don't recommend trying this with something that isn't replaceable without a 2nd mortgage, or if you are not the type to be able to shrug off the loss of 100s of yards of cashmere, one way or the other. And I expect it might be possible to generate a similarly lush result with less shrinkage. But I'm glad I tried it. I learned something. Next time I have a load of towels I'm sending the next skein through and when they are all done I'll have something that's a pure pleasure to work with.
I had the skeins on the desk next to me while I wrote this.
Guess I am not the only one in the house who likes her cashmere fluffy.