The challenge for today is to review two yarns, one which is a favourite and one which is the opposite:
When it comes to yarn I am a fickle creature I'm afraid and my current yarn is often 'my most favourite ever'. I am currently using some Shilasdair Luxury dk yarn for a scarf and it is wonderfully soft with an amazing drape and feel. I don't have enough experience of it though to declare it a true favourite...yet.
Trying to come up with my favourite yarn sent my poor head into a bit of a spin - which to choose? My favourite luxury yarn, favourite work-horse yarn, favourite sock yarn? Decisions, decisions.
In the end though, I settled for my beloved Rowan Felted Tweed. What is not to love about this yarn? The colour palette is deliciously muted and I am a complete sucker for anything tweedy. Although, unlike some rivals, the tweedy flecks in this yarn are subtle and work well with this base yarn rather than jumping out at you in a rather alarming manner. Admittedly it isn't the cheapest of yarn, but I have made the Gathered Pullover using just four balls of yarn - complete bargain. Another slight drawback is it's response to vigorous washing - as the name suggests - any mishandling or maltreatment of the beloved item and it will start to felt (ask me how I know!). But as long as you are nice to it, treat it well and wash with care it will reward you by looking good long into the future. My Gathered Pullover has just finished it's second winter, with frequent use, and it still looks good.
Now for the worst yarn.
In some ways this is more difficult. It would be easy to pick on some defenceless, nasty acrylic that I bought on an ebay impulse and then regretted ever since. Fun fur, really cheap, harsh acrylic, pom-pom yarn - all have entered my stash at some point. Mostly it was destined for the local charity shop once I came to my senses.
Instead I have gone for a yarn that I had really high hopes of and which disappointed me on many levels. It is another Rowan yarn, and as the many project pages on Ravelry atest, it is very popular, but it is not for me. I'm talking about Rowan Calmer.
Some time ago I fell in love with a Nora Gaughan sweater, knitted in the said Rowan Calmer. Being slightly skint at the time I tracked down a bargain pack of 10 balls of the stuff in a lovely soft pink shade, from the ever reliable BlackSheep wools website. The yarn duly arrived and in a fit of enthusiasm I cast on (to hell with a gauge swatch). A few rows in I started to notice how the yarn felt in my hands - and not in a good way. I have no idea why,but something about the way the yarn passed through my fingers was setting my teeth on edge, in the same way that fingernails down a blackboard used to wind my younger sister up. I ignored it and ploughed on, past the several knots that I found, until I had finished the first ball of yarn and approximately 5" of sweater front. At this point I looked at the piece of fabric and realised that it was wide enough to fit an average hippo - it had definately grown on the needles and I would need to go down several sizes to stand a hope in hell of getting a wearable garment.
I duly frogged the piece but then couldn't bear to pick it up again. Having read a little about the yarn I now know that a gauge swatch is essential to see how the yarn behaves (before and after washing) and I know that that bit was my own fault, but the feel of the yarn was something that I couldn't get past and in the end I sold the yarn on ebay - hence no photo of the offending item.