17
Jan

Customer Question of the Week: Colorwork Alternatives to Wool

Hey there! Welcome to “Customer Question of the Week”, a new weekly blog feature wherein our crack team of experts (okay, it’s the KP staff) answers your most pressing fiber-crafting queries. Have a ponderance or problem you need solved? Email us at customerquestion@knitpicks.com. Even though we won’t be able to respond to every person, your question may be chosen for this feature!

Our first question comes from no one person in particular—but a chorus of customers over the years. Kudos to our wonderful Multimedia Manger, Jenny K., for tackling this one.

Q: “I love colorwork, but not wool! What can I use?”

A: If wool isn’t your fiber of choice and just the idea of using 100% wool for a sweater starts to make your skin itch, don’t despair – you still have options when it comes to colorwork.

Known for its fine crimp and low micron count (which determines softness), Merino wool is certainly a fiber that will have you thinking twice about using wool. If you’re looking for a yarn with an extra soft touch, the Stroll yarn family blends superwash merino wool (75%) together with a touch of nylon (25%) – making it a wonderful choice for those with sensitive skin. Stroll Fingering substitutes beautifully in place of Palette in most cases, and it boasts a wonderful selection of solids and complicated heathers to make your next colorwork project picture-perfect.

Another yarn that is sure to combat the itch factor that is commonly associated with wool is Capretta, a fingering weight yarn that adds cashmere (10%) to its blend of superwash Merino wool (75%) and nylon (10%).

On the other hand, if you are allergic to wool – there is Comfy Fingering to the rescue! A lightweight Pima Cotton blend, Comfy Fingering has just the right amount of acrylic content to give it a bit of bounce (your colorwork knitting will thank you for this!). If you are planning on working with steeks in your cotton colorwork project, it is a good idea to work a sewn steek with the help of a sewing machine. This will help keep your stitches in place, since cotton does not have the scales which cling to each other like wool fibers do. And if you are looking for extra reinforcement on your steek, you can also face the steek  with grosgrain ribbon.

Just remember: with both wool blends and cotton yarns, you’ll want to make a colorwork swatch and block it before moving onto your project. Not only will this will help you get a feel for proper tension as you work your floats, you will also see the drape and feel of the finished fabric.

So, although using a lightweight 100% wool yarn like Palette for colorwork has its advantages (there’s lots of stretch, bounce, and give to work with), the scales of the fibers cling to each other keeping stitches in place – there are always options! So whether you explore different wool blends with Merino and cashmere or forgo wool altogether in favor of cotton, you’ll still get to enjoy the process of colorwork knitting!

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