a good yarn

unlike hearts, a good yarn these days is not hard to find.* in fact we are spoiled for choice, especially with that interwebs thing. having said that, i am not a huge fan of most locally made product, BWM and ACS leave me cold these days with their poor colour choices and reliance on harsh fibres or novelty acrylic based products (and it makes me cross to say this, because we produce the best merino in the world and we get sold shit from local mills and have to buy the good stuff back from overseas). and it is sometimes frustrating that there arent more local stores stocking the top shelf international stuff – it is sometimes nicer to be able to smoosh in person – but ive never felt deprived in that way. like i said, there’s the internet. but that has changed since i went to america.

oh my god. the yarn stores. even the not so great ones (yarn company, downtown yarns, im looking at you), were still better than most of what we have here. and cheap! lordy. it’s made me a bit cross really, given we have complete dollar parity, to see koigu priced in the $20 range ($12 at purl) and mad tosh sock in the $30s ($24 at knitty city). but what i really loved was discovering WALLS of yarn that we just dont see here. the best place for this was a little store above a greek restaurant just up from dupont circle in washington DC called looped yarn works.

it was there that i encountered my current favourite yarn, berroco ultra alpaca light.

i’ve seen the ads for berroco in the magazines, and they always seem to have nice patterns, but ive just never thought of ordering any. most of the other big names someone’s bought back from somewhere, and we’ve fondled, so its safe to order online, but i didnt know anything about berroco until i saw it. at looped, there was a whole wall of it, all sorts of different kinds of fibre blends, in the most amazing spectrum of good vibrant solid colours. i zoomed straight in on the alpaca light. its perfect for our conditions, not quite a DK but light and lofty.

smooth with a slight halo, warm without weighing a tonne. its knitting up so beautifully, i divided greenfields for the arm holes on tuesday night and got to try it on. perfect (unlike this photo).

and did i mention the price?

yes that does say $5.80 a skein. they’re not long skeins, but i bought 10 on the spot and have since ordered 4 more, which is way more than i will need for greenfield (better to be safe than sorry right?), but im still looking at a $70 cardigan. For. The. Win. so far i have used less than 3 balls, and i wound up some more last night.

see that swift? that is my current knitting pride and joy. its  from Sweden, is so easy to put up and down, is beautifully made and an absolute joy to use. it was an amazingly generous christmas gift from knitabulous (well, she says she broke my blue plastic one i lent her, but she still didnt need to replace it with this beauty. of course, im glad she did!).

its so nice to have nice knitterly things. im a bit of a top shelf girl like that. maybe for americans berroco isnt all that top shelf, but i cant recommend this particular yarn highly enough. its almost enough to make you want to go live there. almost 🙂

k xx

*feargal sharkey ear worm anyone?


About DrK

researcher, knitter, dog lover View all posts by DrK

21 responses to “a good yarn

  • shellauw

    So you endorse Berocco then? excellent. I can safely add it to my yarn list. It does look beautiful, and I completely agree re: lys’s here and in Aus. Actually, Aus has a better selection than here too.

  • justthreadtwiddling

    I LOVE that particular yarn. I even made a sweater for hub with it. I have enough of 2 colors stashed to make me 2 sweaters.

  • missfee

    I wish now I could knit alpaca

    Love the cardie and what a generous friend Knitabulous is. A good swift is such a bonus when winding balls. I threw my last one out in frustration and spent the money to get a good one as I constantly cursed when winding balls with the old get up.

  • Melissa

    Yeah, thanks for that particular ear worm. I am now really excited to get my Ultra Alpaca in the mail. And that swift, gorgeous! What a great pressie!

  • jp

    The yarn looks delightful so soft and gorgeous (and cost effective).

    I love my wooden swift (i went with the ashford) and my wooden ballwinder (Straunch).

  • gidgetknits

    I have that ear worm on my iPod. I just have to stop singing it out loud. But oh my yes – why can’t we have better yarn selections? Is it really that difficult? And now, I mean, we’re worth more than the US dollar! Well, periodically!

  • nettie

    I’m absolutely with you on the BWM comments (not quite understanding why people buy it) and the US yarn stores (where your heart races as you enter and gorgeous stuff jumps off the shelf at you). Oh, er, sorry, maybe that’s just me!

  • LynF

    I absolutely agree with you re BWM & ACS I just don’t buy the stuff if I am going to put hours of my time in to knitting a garment I want the best yarn that I can afford.
    I bought 24 skeins of Ultra Alpaca, I am knitting a garter stitch cardigan in Lavender Mix and it is a joy to knit with, I have 5 Cardinal & 5 Black skeins in the stash for something but what I am not sure of yet
    maybe a couple of nice shawls, the more you buy the cheaper it becomes I only paid $4.31 a skein so it worth getting to getting with likewise friends and ordering.
    I do so enjoy your blog

  • Bells

    you’ve been talking about this Berocco alpaca for a while now and I’ve got a serious hankering for it. Beautiful. Sounds wonderful.

    I’ll speak up in favour of BWM though (big surprise there – not!). It’s not perfect but it’s great for so many things. I can see why as a workhorse yarn it’s not considered ‘up there’ but just last night as I was sitting with a three year old pi blanket on my lap, made from rustic, I was marvelling at how soft it is after many washes and much use and how it hasn’t pilled or deterioriated. And a cardigan I made out of it has worn well for a number of years. I think its durability is a great asset! But yeah, there are lots of other yarns to choose from that do the same thing.

    • drkknits

      i love that you always defend BWM. i think the right yarn for the right project, you cant beat them for value. but the colours! they keep getting rid of the good ones!

      • Bells

        Honestly it’s a bit of a sentimental favourite, apart from anything else. Back in 2003 when I was first knitting again an elderly woman at my mum’s church handed us the shade card like it was her most treasured possession. I made lots of my earliest stuff from it and still feel kindly disposed towards them. Will never knit one of their patterns though.

  • yogaknitdra

    Thank you very much indeed for the earworm, dear Feargal. All that yummy yarn and I couldn’t agree more with your comments about local yarn manufacturers. It just makes me cranky we don’t have an A grade large manufacturer who can inspire large walls of great yarn in local shops at decent prices.

  • RoseRed

    I agree with you on our local yarn stores and mills, but sadly we just don’t have the numbers to demand and justify more – and perhaps like Bells many knitters have a soft spot for places like BWM and Patons, as that is what they “grew up with”. And even though we have dollar parity now, it hasn’t always been that way, and it still costs our retailers more to import the yarn, so I can understand why they charge more (although perhaps not that much more!). In many ways, it’s not fair to compare prices between here and the US, because just about everything is cheaper over there (except decent coffee, heh!).

    Anyway, yay for Ultra Alpacky! I am v. excited about using mine too, soon, I hope!!

    • drk

      i hope you do too, that colour is gorgeous. i know why we dont have LYS’s like that here, and im not saying we should, i just miss the american ones! but i really do object to the profiteering that goes on here. they buy at wholesale not retail prices and shipping isnt as bad as everyone says it is. and not just yarn. $32 for a paperback book today that i could have got online for half that. its no wonder i prefer online shopping!

      • RoseRed

        Books are way worse than yarn, I think. Darn that government of ours for trying to protect our local book industry…

        I meant to say nice swift! I didn’t know you had a lovely wooden one!

  • 2paw

    Thank you, yes, I had an immediate ear worm!! It is a strange think that we have a lot of sheep growing wool, but we send it all away. Story of our country really. Nice cardi!!

  • donna lee

    I always imagined that you all down there had the most wonderful yarns in local stores since you DO make some of the most gorgeous yarn in the world. It’s disheartening to hear that it isn’t so. I have access to 2 or 3 local (and it depends on how many miles away Local is defined as) stores where I can fondle away and then either purchase or store the feel in memory so I can order it later.

    I have used Berrocco cotton blend yarns and was pleasantly surprised at the softness (being cotton and all). They make great baby sweaters since they’re washable and soft. I’ve never seen the one you used but I love the way it looks in your cardigan.

    • drk

      It’s true what rosered says, we just don’t have the population, socioeconomic market, or even the weather really to support a diverse yarn industry. My LYS tries but its just not economically viable for them. It is disheartening, and is a problem with Australian industry in general. all raw materials for export, no value adding.

  • 1funkyknitwit

    I would agree with your post and there is nothing wrong with being a top shelf girl ! ;D

    I see you have found the love of alpaca 😀 I have finished my Askew out of the alpaca I spun and d.r.e.a.m.y comes to mind, I am just in love with alpaca fiber so soft and luxurious to spin AND wear !
    It’s just as lovely blended with other luxury fibers.

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