question, wool alternatives

New feature, I guess. I got a knitting question on ravelry, and I'm going to answer it here. I'll answer your knitting question as well if you send them to me on ravelry, or by email at garen@tychoish.com.

I have been looking around on Raverly for a while now trying to find an alternative to the Jaimeson Shetland wool. I am going to be making a Fair Isle EZ cardigan but cant tolerate 100% wool. Do you happen to know the name(s) of other yarn that may be a good alternative?

I'd like to make a few of comments in response. First. There's something special about Shetland wool. It's not, soft, but there's something about the wool that makes it much more tolerable, and I'm convinced that it has magical properties. Something about the crimp of the wool, and the way it's spun (woolen, so that it's airy.) I encourage everyone to knit something with real Shetland (Jamisons, Harrisville, Etc.) because it's amazing, and you might find that you can stand it.

The second "try wool solutions anyway," answer is to experiment with some solutions that might make the wool more bearable. I'm a bit sensitive to wool, but I think I cope with it fairly well, and there are things you can do to make a sweater "easier" to wear. For instance, having a sweater with an open (plackets) or v-neck keeps the fabric of the sweater off your skin where it is the most sensitive. Secondly you can knit turned hems out of something that you're not sensitive too: alpaca, cotton, silk. This keeps the wool away from any place that matters while letting you still knit with wool. You can go all out here, as hems don't take very much yarn and you generally want to knit a hem out of a very light weight yarn. How to knit a hem is, however another question entirely. I find silk and wool blends to be the way to go in this direction.

As for specific yarn suggestions? There aren't a lot of options, and if you're price sensitive (as I often am) there are fewer options. One of the key problems, is that Fair Isle-style sweaters really ought to be knit out of light weight yarn (sport weight or less, but not lace weight), and there aren't a lot of options here. There are a few silk and wool blends, a few wool/tencel blend (mostly sock yarns), and there is of course cotton (which can be used, though that doesn't strike me as fun). I think Beroco makes their ultra alpaca in a sport/light weight that might be fun for your purposes, but alpaca is much warmer than wool which isn't always a good thing.

That's about all I have. Anyone else? Send more questions my way

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