Ljós Hat, and woollen vs worsted spun yarns

You’d be right in thinking I spent most of this summer knitting hats. I tend to knit all year round, and hats are so much easier to manage when a full jumper swelters in your lap and even the thought of wearing wool makes you feel overheated.

Woman's head in front of weatherboard house. She wears a handknit, colourwork hat in natural shades of brown and white.

This hat is another Knitworthy pattern – Ljós. Ysolda Teague has published four Knitworthy collections (1, 2, 3 & 4) and I’ve knit or have a project queued from them all. The collections of accessories and toys are based on the idea of “knitworthiness”, that is, someone who loves your creations enough you deem them worthy of your handknits. As no recipient can fully appreciate the hard work that goes into knitting, I make them for myself!

I initially knit this hat to have about 1-2″ of negative ease (less than the 2.5″ suggested in the pattern). As cute as it looks in the pattern pictures, the tight fitted skullcap was uncomfortable as well as unflattering on me. So, I ripped it all out and reknit for about 1″ positive ease.

 

My other lesson learnt during this project was that I really don’t enjoy knitting with woollen spun yarns. I know, they’re in vogue now, but I just can’t stand having yarn that falls apart in my hands and needs to be spit spliced every few cms,* or that lacks the natural “sproinginess” of worsted spun yarns. But what shits me the most is the fact that the ribbing flattens down to nothing after a wash, and becomes basically useless at keeping things in place (hence the fact that this hat is pulled down to my eyebrows).

Woman's head in front of weatherboard house. She wears a handknit, colourwork hat in natural shades of brown and white.

I also find that woollen spun yarns need a lot of work to be held in place to create even floats, whereas worsted spun yarns naturally feed through my hands and create an even tension almost by themselves. (See my Jamieson & Smith Jumper Weight vs a worsted crepe swatch.) Finally, more processed, worsted spun yarns don’t aggravate my eczema, which can flare up quite badly if I’m using a particularly rustic yarn.

Woman's head in front of weatherboard house. She wears a handknit, colourwork hat in natural shades of brown and white.

So, I’ll wear this hat this winter then carry on being a knitting heathen and knit these beautiful designs in cheap, mass-produced, worsted-spun yarn. (I had a few more thoughts on this yarn which you can read on my Ravelry project page if so inclined.)

 

Do you have a preference for woollen vs worsted spun yarn? Homespun vs mass produced? Or am I such a yarn newbie that I’ve completely misunderstood the nature of these yarns and am drawing ill-informed conclusions? Let me know in the comments.

Woman's head in front of weatherboard house. She wears a handknit, colourwork hat in natural shades of brown and white.
When you look like a mushroom from Mario and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Mushroom from Mario

 

 

The deets:
Pattern: Ljós Hat by Ysolda Teague (my Ravelry notes)
Pattern details: “I’ve often thought that it would make sense to take inspiration from our Northern neighbours when it comes to making yarn from the fibre of our ancient sheep breeds. This yarn from Irish producer S Twist does just that, blending naturally coloured Galway, Jacob and Shetland fibres into a loose single ply that will be familiar to anyone who has worked with Icelandic lopi. It seemed only fitting to design a pattern inspired by the geometric colourwork yokes of Icelandic Lopapeysas. The hat is worked from the bottom up with decreases incorporated into the colourwork pattern, as it is on those yokes, creating a particularly appealing crown pattern. There are a few rounds using three colours, which can be tricky, but take them slowly and I think you’ll find the resulting blending of shades is worth it.” Available as an individual PDF download or from Knitworthy 3.
Yarn: “From Galway to Shetland” kit from Ysolda.com, featuring S Twist Wool in natural shades white, dark grey, light grey and brown.
Needles: 3mm for ribbing, 3.25mm for body.
Mods: Different gauge (24 sts & 28 rounds / 4”). Changed dimensions so hat had 1″ positive ease (pattern image shown with 2″ negative ease).

 

*This really happened during this project. The lightest grey yarn was the worst culprit and I never want to knit with it again. Ripping back and it being single ply probably didn’t help matters.

Author: Siobhan S

20 something, living in country Australia. Spoonie profile: ME/CFS, dysautonomia, anxiety. All about sewing, knitting and food. Unapologetic feminist and disability advocate.

11 thoughts on “Ljós Hat, and woollen vs worsted spun yarns”

  1. Despite all your dilemmas with this yarn, the end product does look great!

    I splashed out on some Noro yarn recently with similar properties – it actually felt beautiful to knit with and fortunately I only incurred a couple of breaks where the yarn thinned out. I’m really happy with the end product but proof will be in the wearing – my concern is with potential pilling with general rubbing due to wear.

    Cheers

    Sharron

    Like

    1. Thanks! It always takes me a bit of ripping out to get there but it’s part of the process. Noro yarn is lovely and I’m glad you’re happy with the end result. What did you make with it? I get the impression a lot of Noro is knit into accessories that don’t get heavy wear so it doesn’t really matter if it’s pill-prone.

      Like

  2. This is flawless (and beautiful)–what a great knitter you are! Fyi, redbeautytextile.com is, sadly, going out of business soon, and they have a lot of very lovely artisanal yarns on sale.

    Like

  3. Beautiful hat! Your colorwork skills are so impressive–you give me #knittinggoals for sure. 😉

    I have never bought any woolen-spun yarns–on purpose. I’ve read of too many people having issues with the strength (particularly Brooklyn Tweed yarns and patterns, which often involve seaming–if it isn’t strong enough to seam the thing you just knit out of it, WTF is the point?!?) to ever want to bother with it. I get the nice properties it offers, but I’d happily sacrifice those for something that will wear well enough to be worth all the effort knitting requires. There are plenty of perfectly nice yarns out there to choose from, thankyouverymuch! /rant

    Like

    1. I own a Brooklyn Tweed jumper pattern which requires seaming and they instruct to use a stronger yarn to seam (if memory serves correctly). Their yarn seem beautiful but OH MY GOSH the prices. I agree, for the work I put into knitting something I want it to wear. I’ve been so disappointed with projects that pill almost instantly after wearing.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautiful hat. I love that natural color palette. And I absolutely support your choice to size up. It looks good!

    Fancy yarns are so expensive… My guilty pleasure is undyed alpaca. Sadly, it lacks the wonderful springiness of wool, so I don’t love to knit with it. I just love wearing it. …And that’s how I’ve ended up with quite a bit of alpaca yet to be knitted.

    In terms of knitting comfort, for me, nothing beats wool. Apart from a couple of sweaters and a few skeins for accessories, I’ve mostly gone with cheaper yarns. I don’t want animals to suffer, so I have all kinds of difficult feelings about this. On the upside (I hope!), I’ve bought a lot of yarn second-hand.

    And as for woolen spun… A few years ago a friend showed me what Brooklyn Tweed Shelter was like. He had it on the needles and, even though, yes, it felt “buttery,” it was also extremely fragile. So that’s a downside… but who am I to judge — I’m knitting up some long-stashed unspun Lopi wool right now.

    Wow, Siobhan, sorry for all this rambling. I sound like it was the first time I got to talk about my knitting preferences 😉

    Like

    1. I love hearing (reading?) people talk about knitting! Alpaca is such a beautiful yarn. I’ve knit with some local alpaca and the end product is so luxurious. Though I’m not sure how I’d go with it now, as you say it’s not very springy and might be a bit tough on the hands.

      I’m actually really glad you brought up knitting comfort because that is a big factor for me in choosing yarns. I want something that will provide minimal resistance against my hands and worsted wool definitely fits the bill.

      The treatment of animals is a difficult one…because you just don’t know how they are treated from farm to farm. In our area a lot of sheep and cows are farmed, and it’s been my understanding that they are treated very well. Mulesing is practiced and though it seems barbaric when the alternative is flystrike what can you do?

      Like

Thanks for dropping by! I read and value each and every comment you leave. Constructive criticism is welcome.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.