In short, the armpit test involves me tucking a swatch into the armpit of my bra for a few days. This test tells me a lot about next to skin softness, and how the yarn might wear over time.
Can you tell any difference between this picture, and the one I took the other day? (Apart from the fact that the sun is out here today.) I can’t. I keep checking the swatch for signs of piling or abrasion, and there just aren’t any. It looks exactly as it did after that first wash, except… it’s softer. Significantly softer. Putting Samite next the the sweatiest part of your body for three days makes it soften. Seriously though, I think Samite is one of those precious yarns that is going to get more beautiful with age. And I can wear it next to my skin and forget that it’s there.
At £26.50, Samite definitely falls into the luxury category. Personally I think it’s worth every penny, and will gladly confess that I have fallen head over heels for this yarn. It makes me want to knit with beads, something I never thought I’d find myself saying.
Wool is a renewable resource, so typically I don’t worry about missing out. There will always be more beautiful yarn – right? But I am saving my pennies for a jumpers quantity of this yarn. If it sells out in the meantime – well, you will find me under by desk quietly weeping.
One of the reasons I’d held on to my sample of Blacker Yarns Samite for so long, is because I couldn’t decide if I should try a lace or cable pattern. In the end lace won, probably because I’ve been thinking about lightweight summer garments recently.
Samite might not be what you would imagine when you think of a silk/wool blend for knitting lace. It’s much more of a woolly yarn, without the silky shine. You can definitely feel the qualities of the Shetland element of this yarn, in that it is light and has a little halo. However, when I compared the swatch with my pure shetland shawls, the difference was obvious. The longer wool fibres and silk give Samite a slightly more dense feel, and much less halo. I loved the way it showcased the Horseshoe pattern; but if you’re trying to create that etherial tissue paper like shawl, with great stitch definition, this is probably not the yarn to use.
My swatch was knitted on 3.25 mm needles, and was 14 cm square before washing. I hand washed the swatch just in water, and stretched out the lace so it was 15 cm square when it dried. Knitting a lacey swatch, then stretching it is probably not the best test of yarn bloom, but I can tell you that the yarn didn’t change visibly on washing.
I’m really intrigued to find out how this yarn wears, so pop back on Friday for the Armpit Test.
Back in March, at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, I was given the sweetest little sample skein of Samite, from Blacker Yarns, in the Eternal Day colour-way. It was wound into a ball almost immediately. I have been wistfully squishing it ever since, and wondering what stitch pattern to try out.
Last week I finally put needles to yarn, and will be telling you about the results over the next few day. To start off though, all the vital stats are below.
Yarn weight 4 ply/Fingering; Skein weight 100 g; Fibre content 30% Blue-faced Leicester, 40% Shetland, 20% Ahimsa Silk, 10% Gotland; Length 460 m; Tension 28 stitches over 10 cm; Recommended needle 2.75 mm; No. of plys 2; Made in Cornwall, UK.