Yarn Review: Whistbare, Cheviot Blue 4 ply

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A few weeks ago I purchased a sweater quantity of Whistlebare Cheviot Blue 4 ply to make a cardigan.  I duly swatched, and then promptly put to whole project on hold because the colour wasn’t quite what I’d had in mind.  Having knitted with the yarn a little, I thought it was worth reviewing here.  You can find Whistlebare at a lot of shows in the north of England, so I’ve had plenty of opportunities to squish their yarn in person.  If you live further afield, or just can’t make it to shows, you might be trying it out unsquished.  And, in that case, it’s always useful to be able to find out more about yarn performance before you part with your pennies.

Yarn weight 4 ply / fingering; Skein weight 100 g; Fibre content 60% Whistlebare’s Cheviot 1st Shearing / 40% locally reared Blue Faced Leicester; Length 350 m; Recommended tension 32 stitches x 36 rows over 10 cm; Recommended needle 3 mm needles; No. of plys 2;  Reared in Northumberland, Spun in Yorkshire, UK.

Opening my parcel from Whistlebare was pure joy!  The yarn feels elastic and lofty, and has a little hailo.  It smelt very slightly of spinning oil when I shoved my nose right in to it, but not so you notice while knitting.  This is a smell that doesn’t bother me.  It reminds me of the industrial process that natural materials have to go through in order to become consumer products.  And it washes out.  Cheviot Blue, in the hank, is not the softest yarn.  It feels crisp, with a mild prickle.  It’s also the sort of yarn that wants to cling to itself like Velcro.

My intention had been to knit the Kara Cardigan by Cecily Glowik MacDonald.  This cardi has a beautiful all over lace pattern, that is simple to memorise and knit.  That is the pattern you’re seeing here in my swatches.  In the first swatch I used the 4 mm needle recommended by the pattern.  The resulting fabric was very open, and had plenty of drape; however it was too loose for my liking.  I loved the second swatch knitted on a 3.25 mm needle.  The stitch pattern was still beautifully visible, the fabric still had a little drape, but it was much more stable. The yarn is a pleasure to knit with, and felt fine running through my hands

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I didn’t measure my gauge before and after washing this time.  Lace is always so scrunched up when it comes off the needles that it hardly seemed worth it.  After washing the gauge over 10 cm of the stitch pattern was 24.5 stitches on 4 mm needles and 26.5 Stitches on 3.25 mm needles.

In the first wear test, I started by tucking the swatch in to the band of my trousers, and moved it my armpit on day two.  It was itchy.  Not so that I was conscious of the it all the time, like a dry skin itch that you want to apply moisturiser to later.

The yarn does soften over time.  I’ve washed it three times now, with no discernible change in gauge.  There is still an itchiness when I wear it next to sensitive skin, however it has more drape in the hand.  The stitch pattern flattened out with wear, then sprang back on washing.  This wouldn’t be my first choice for texture, however this might just be because of the 2 ply yarn structure.

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And finally!  My little Cheviot Blue swatch has been riding round in my armpit for two weeks now, and not a single pill!  The fibre stays in the yarn, which makes me think it will wear magnificently.

I’ve since dyed the beautiful hanks of yarn I bought, and have my eye on a design for a lightweight jersey… eventually.  I’m in the midst of a WIP down.  For now I’m enjoying this little heap on the shelf by my desk.

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