The Temptation of Hand-dyed Superwash

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In november last year I went on a weekend trip to Amsterdam before continuing on to Rotterdam for a study trip. I travelled with a group of friends, all with different likes and preferences of what to see, do and eat. Since we only had two days (and in order not to bore my fellow travelers to much with yarn and fabric shops) I narrowed down my list of must-visit-shops to just one: Penelope Craft.

My plan for the visit was to buy something that is not available in my local yarn shops (which were most stuff as a really good ‘high end’ yarn shop is hard to come by in Sweden). I was especially keen on looking at the yarns from Quince and Co. and the hand-dyed yarns they were carrying. We were able to find the shop and they had a beautiful selection of yarns and notions. I was immediately swooned by the amazing colours of the super wash. I ended up splurging, buying two skeins of Hedgehog fibers Sock in the colours ‘Concrete’ and ‘Monet’.

This last week I started knitting with the grey yarn, called ‘Concrete’. It is an amazing collection of subtle greys, purples, blues and brownish shades – oh so lovely! It will be a simple brimmed hat for myself to wear during the coming months. I’m expecting (and hoping) for the temperature to drop and a snug, warm hat in luxurious yarn is just what I need right now.

But, the thing is, even if I adore the amazing colours I still find myself thinking that the yarn-base is… well, I don’t know how to put it. It is nothing wrong with it, it is incredibly soft and nice to knit with but to me it feels more like cotton that wool to me, maybe due to the super wash treatment and added nylon (just what you want from a sock yarn). One thing I like about wool in general is the feel of it, the softness and squishiness but also the roughness and the smell – the feeling of it being a live matter, not as perfectly homogenous as man-made nylon, but still with amazing tactility and qualities. With superwash and nylon mixes those qualities are diminished, like the wool is restrained and have slightly lost its character.

I never make new years resolutions, but for the coming year I want to learn more about the differences of sheep breeds, in order to be able to have more knowledge when shopping for certain projects. When knitting socks for example, I have always been told that the only way to do it is by using wool mixed with nylon, in order to be able to wash it and to prevent constant mending. Still,being a person with constantly cold feet, I also think that the added nylon have a downside by making the socks less warm as it cannot suck up as much moisture as untreated wool.

I do enjoy the yarn I bought, I’m not against superwash. I’m just want to look for an alternative and deepen my knowledge in this craft I love so much by exploring wool outside the area of super soft and super wash.

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