Good Yarn, Bad Yarn

I did not fully realize it at the time, but I’ve been spoiled by yarn from some excellent indie dyers: 8-ply, squishy, resilient, brilliant, indie yarn.

Compared to some, I have only been knitting socks for a brief while. But, I’m learning much about what I like  . . . and what I really, really, (gah!) dislike. Yes, dear readers, I have come to the point in my sock knitting career when I am ready to admit: there is such a thing as bad sock yarn. Yep, I said it, bad yarn. It splits, it wears funny, it knits into starchy fabric that feels plastic. You know what I’m talking about! I’m not usually very polemic on this here blog, but tarnation, I’ve had it

The two culprits that will drive me back to my indie sock stash faster than a roadrunner getting away from the coyote: Cascade Heritage Sock Yarn and Plymouth Zino Sock Yarn.

ARG… AAAARRRRGEHHHEHAAG.

Here’s my beef with Cascade Heritage (75% Superwash Merino, 25% Nylon): it feels like an acrylic. The final fabric is slick, does not produce a tight fabric (and I’m a tight knitter!) and pills, pulls, and generally doesn’t look great. I am using it for some socks for my dad–and I’m on my 3rd sock (yes, you heard me right)–and I’m not sure if I can actually bring myself to gift them . . .

My beef with Plymouth Zino is much, much greater and goes beyond the yarn itself. When I was a novice knitter, I wanted to learn about sock making. So, I went to my LYS and inquired about sock yarn. I was pointed towards Zino and told that it would be a great yarn for socks. But, I was also told that a novice shouldn’t try sock making. Hrumph. I hate to admit it, but that comment got to me, so that sock yarn sat in my stash for over four years (!!!!) When I finally pulled it out, excited to make my 11th pair of socks, I found it to be a foul beast of a yarn: single ply (?!?!!), very loosely spun, splitty as all heck, and inconsistent (i.e. it had actual breaks in the yarn itself). Maybe it’s best for a shawl or some other lacy project? Maybe some of you have had better luck than I have?

What I do know, now, is that I’m heading back to my stash of indie sock yarns and never looking back. All knitters are different; the nice thing about Zino and Cascade Heritage is the price point; and there are more than likely perfect projects for these yarns . . .

But those projects do not involve my needles–or my feet.

How’s the yarn in your end of the pool?

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This entry was posted in big questions, choices, keeping track, learning, review, socks, unexpected, yarn. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Good Yarn, Bad Yarn

  1. BeeJeweled says:

    I also hate those single ply yarns! I made a shawl with one, and had the same problems, splitting, falling apart. The colors are usually lovely, but I don’t know who can knit with them. I ended up spinning it tighter.

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  2. Roxane says:

    I think some yarn shops are unsavvy enough to market any fingering weight yarn as sock yarn. I like some single ply yarns for scarves and shawls, but I would not actually make socks from Mini Mochi, or the Noro so-called sock yarns, despite the encouragement of shop employees, having made that mistake once early in my sock career.

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    • lissymail says:

      I am so relieved to hear I am not alone 🙂 My LYS is lovely in so many respects, but since I became wise to this sock yarn recommendation snafu, I pretty much only purchase needles there–and only if I’m in a pinch–and I do my homework before going in to look at yarn!

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  3. This is definitely true. I will forever be disappointed with some laceweight Manos del Uruguay that I bought. I love the colours but it splits really easily, is annoyingly fuzzy and all my stitches just look limp and sad in it. I originally bought it was a gift for someone else but they hated it so much they gave it back!

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    • lissymail says:

      Oh no! gifts given back are surely a sign of bad yarn 😦 It seems like many of the big manufacturers are not making great yarn these days . . . I had a terrible time with some Knitpicks yarn a while back and gave them up for anything but blankets (where penny pinching matters !)

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