Review: Myra Cowl and Colinton Australia Lace from Louet

A few weeks ago, Louet sent me a gorgeous skein of Colinton Australia Lace yarn to knit up the Myra cowl pattern by Trudy Van Stralen for review. The Myra cowl pattern is part of a special collection of patterns to highlight Louet’s new partnership with Colinton Australia yarns.

Review | Woolen Diversions

Colinton Lace and Myra cowl from Louet

As soon as the yarn arrived, I was eager to cast on. The colorway I received, Dove, is a gorgeous, pale pink that looked both delicate and sophistacted. Colinton Lace is a 2-ply laceweight mohair yarn with 225 yards in each 50 g skein. Most mohair yarns I’ve worked with are brushed for a halo or plied with silk or linen, but this yarn is pure kid mohair and it is more sleek than it is fuzzy. I adore the shine and hand of this yarn and think it looks and feels a lot like silk. This means it has a lovely drape and very little elasticity.

Blocking.

Blocking.

I thought the pattern, a simple lace cowl worked flat and then joined on the short ends, was well-suited for the yarn. The stitch pattern is a garter-based lace that easy to work and really opens up nicely with blocking. I did have a few mishaps with dropped stitches during the course of the project, which was due partially to the slipperiness of the yarn, but would have been easy to avoid with a different needle choice (grippy bamboo or carbon fiber would do the trick). I recommend adding a lifeline every few repeats, just in case.

The pattern is not charted, only written out, but the lace pattern is simple enough that a chart isn’t strictly necessary. I had no problems with the pattern until I reached the finishing instructions, which were a little confusing. The pattern includes a diagram of the three-needle bind off on a separate page, but then switches to a description of kitchener stitch (or grafting) for closing the cowl without fully explaining the three-needle bind off in the finishing section, which threw me off at first. Update: It turns out that I was working from an older version of the pattern! The newer version has a nicer layout that includes a chart and makes it clear that you have the option of finishing with either a 3-needle bind-off or grafting. I decided to go with the three-needle bind off using a needle a couple sizes bigger so the bind off would be loose. When you use this technique, you usually want to begin with the right sides facing each other so that your seam is on the inside or wrong side of the cowl. However, since the garter-stitch lace pattern is fully reversible, the distinction doesn’t matter so much for this cowl.

Since I wanted my cowl to be a bit wider and shorter than the one pictured in the pattern, I cast on 45 stitches for 2.5 repeats (instead of 2 repeats as written). This blocked out to about 41″ circumference and 12″ wide, which I’m really happy with. It’s not long enough to double up but it’s the perfect length to wear as a pretty, lightweight accessory. It’s delightfully warm for its lightness and the yarn really shines. The fabric developed a slight halo with wearing and shed a little bit on the dark shirt I wore it with the first day, but not enough to bother me. My Fiasco found it itchy, but he is very sensitive to prickle and has been known to say “I think Merino is kind of scratchy” so that’s how low his tolerance is.

In conclusion, the Myra cowl is a pretty accessory and would make a good beginner lace project due to its simple geometric stitch pattern, and I absolutely love the yarn. I really didn’t think I liked mohair all that much until I tried this yarn, but I would use it for another lace accessory in a heartbeat.

GIVEAWAY: I’d like to give my copy of the Myra cowl pattern away email a copy of the updated Myra cowl pattern to someone who would like it! Leave a comment on this post and let me know what other pattern from the Louet Colinton Collection you would like to make. Share this post on facebook or twitter for an extra entry (leave a comment letting me know you did!) and make sure you leave your e-mail so I can contact you. I’ll draw a winner next Monday, 7/6!

Advertisements

Review: Spinzilla 2015 May Fiber Pack from Louet

As you might recall, on Wednesday I mentioned that I came home to a giant box of fiber-y goodies from Louet*. Want to hear more about that? Of course you do!

Woolen Diversions

Thanks, Louet!

Louet is putting together super cool, heavily-discounted fiber bundles to help us all prepare our stashes for Spinzilla, the week-long spinning marathon that happens in October. There will be a different fiber pack each month leading up to the event. The May pack contains $160 worth of yummy fibers to play with, and retails for less than half that price. After sampling some of the fibers included in the pack, I can’t deny that it is an absolute steal.

The fiber pack contains 4 bundles of 2 oz each Dyed Merino Top (in Champagne, Dusty Rose, Lupine Lavender, and Tawny Gold), 4 oz of Angora/Lambswool Top, 100 gr of Eri (a.k.a. Peace) Silk,  8 oz of Light Romney Sliver, 8 oz of Dark Romney Sliver, and 8 oz of SWTC Dyed Karaoke (50% soysilk / 50% wool). I wanted to write my review before May was over so I’ve only had time to dabble in half of these fibers thus far, but here we go.

Eri Silk:

I practically attacked this lovely bundle of silk as soon as I had it out of the bag. It’s a beautiful, natural champagne/honey color, a nice light tan. It feels incredible. Since it comes from silkworms that spin open-ended cocoons, the silk is not reeled off in one continuous piece. This makes the fiber a bit fluffier and less sleek than typical mulberry silk (and the critters get to live!), but I like this quality as it makes the silk easier to draft and spin.

Review: Spinzilla May Fiber Pack from Louet | Woolen Diversions

Eri Silk sample skein

I spun a small amount (7 g) with short forward draw (worsted) on the fast flyer of my Lendrum wheel (12:1 ratio) and made a 2-ply sample skein with 38.3 yards. If I had spun the entire batch of silk up (4 oz), I would’ve ended up with 618 yards of laceweight yarn (2,481 ypp, 24 wpi). I love this little skein and think that the rest of this silk will make an elegant shawl.

Angora/Lambswool:

The next fiber that my fingers couldn’t resist was the 50/50 blend of angora (from bunnies!) and lambswool. This fiber comes undyed in 2 oz bags (2 bags included in fiber pack). As you can imagine, it’s wonderfully fluffy stuff. I tried spinning this worsted but had a bit of trouble (it’s not my favorite drafting style) so I switched to my old standby, spinning from the fold. This allowed me greater control over the short, sleek angora fibers while introducing a nice bit of air into the single.

Review: Spinzilla 2015 May Fiber Pack from Louet | Woolen Diversions

Angora/Lambswool sample skein

I spun a bit up (11 g) on the fast flyer of my Lendrum wheel (12:1 ratio) and made a 2-ply sample skein with 20.7 yards. If I had spun the entire batch of fiber (4 oz), I would’ve ended up with 214 yards of sport/DK weight yarn (856 ypp, 14 wpi). The yarn in this wee skein is thicker and fluffier than the silk but still has a lovely density from the angora and a nice bit of bounce. I imagine any knit fabric will develop an enticing halo over time. The angora and wool fibers were well blended and only a few times did I find myself at the end of my handful of fiber with just bits of angora left loose in my hand.

Carding Dyed Merino Top:

For my last sample skein, I experimented with hand carding the 4 colors of dyed Merino wool top I had received. I carded 4 rolags of each color blend and spun them in the following sequence: champagne alone, champagne/rose, rose alone, rose/lavender, lavender alone, lavender/gold, gold alone, gold/champagne. Since I was spinning from rolags, I used a supported long draw technique to create a woolen-spun single.

Review: Spinzilla 2015 May Fiber Pack from Louet | Woolen Diversions

Dyed Merino Top sample skein

I switched back to the regular flyer and spun 38 g of wool into a single that I then chain plied (10:1 ratio) into a 3-ply yarn. If I continue spinning all 8 oz of wool in this manner, I will ended up with 455 yards of DK/light worsted weight yarn (910 ypp, 11 wpi). I found the wool top easy to card and spin. I did not notice any compacted areas that can sometimes result from the dyeing process and the colors were consistent throughout the top.

Review: Spinzilla 2015 May Fiber Pack from Louet | Woolen Diversions

My pretties!

I’ve barely scratched the surface of what can be done with one of these fiber packs. Things I’d still like to try:

  • blending the Eri silk with the dyed Merino top in rolags
  • plying one single of silk with one multicolored single spun from the dyed Merino
  • plying light grey and dark grey Romney singles together for a subtle marled yarn
  • spinning a bulky singles yarn from the variegated soysilk/wool fiber.

In summary, these fiber packs are an instant stash, and a great way to explore different fiber types in a low-risk way. For instance, I’m not in love with the feel of the soysilk/wool blend (even though I adore the color!) and I’m glad I found that out through the discounted fiber pack before purchasing it on its own for a project. Louet’s fibers are well-prepared, easy to work with, reasonably-priced, and offered in relatively large amounts (usually 8 oz at a time) that allow for experimentation and sampling without sacrificing project yardage, which I really appreciate. I’ve had my eye on some of their more ‘exotic’ fibers for a while (yak, anyone? How about camel/silk?) and the fiber pack they’ve put together for June looks intriguing, too!

Have you experimented with any new fibers lately? What have you been itching to try?

*Disclaimer: This fiber pack was sent to me from Louet for review. All opinions are my own and reflect my true impressions, I only support businesses whose products I truly love!

WIPWed #93: Campfire Knitting

I am (reluctantly) back from my camping trip, it was such a lovely time. We didn’t go far, and we weren’t gone for long, but something about spending the entire day outside and sleeping with just a thin nylon wall between you and the night feels wonderful. It was a tad chilly the first couple of nights, but the sun was warm during the day and we got plenty of hiking, biking, and campfire relaxing in.

My favorite way to knit.

I brought three projects with me (of course) but the only one I worked on was my Camelot Monkey sock. I had the wild idea that I’d have so much leisure time I would totally finish the entire pair… which did not happen. I did make my way back through the leg and heel that I had to frog last week, but it turns out that roasting marshmallows and reading to toddlers is way more fun than knitting (*gasp*). Plus, it gets dark early outdoors which doesn’t jive well with my nighttime knitting habits.

However, that kind of project monogamy is coming to a close. I returned home to a giant box of goodies from Louet, including a Spinzilla 2015 May Fiber Pack and a lovely skein of laceweight Colinton mohair yarn (both of which you’ll hear more about soon). I eagerly ripped into the sample fibers and have begun playing with the irresistible Eri silk. So soft! So shiny! It’s also known as ‘peace silk’ because the silk worms are allowed to emerge from their cocoons before the silk is harvested, which does not allow for the silk to be reeled off in a single strand, but does allow the little insect to live.

I strangely didn’t read a thing while camping (I read nearly constantly at home) but I did finish that Mama, PhD book I was reading last week. I am now working my way through a couple of issues of Ply magazine that have been patiently waiting their turn.

Hope you all had lovely weekends and are halfway through a decent week! Linking up with Yarnalong and Stitch Along Wednesday.