September 23, 2017

1 A Tweed That Is Skin Soft?! Introducing: Rowan Cashmere Tweed

I'm a big BIG fan of tweed yarns. For those of you who may not know, "tweed" is basically any wool fiber that incorporates flecks of different color fibers. These can be small or chunky, tonal or high-contrast (my favorite!).

Tweed was developed by the British, Irish and Scottish as a way of making sturdy, warm fabric that was a perfect match for outerwear. Unfortunately, the number of mills making woven wool tweed has dwindled and a Google search of the word use was pretty illuminating!

It's the same for tweed yarns. The go-to brand for tweed yarns has always been Rowan Yarns, but even they have struggled to hold on to makers of high quality, British-spun tweed. Many a Rowan tweed yarn line has been discontinued over the years; here are two favorites from MY hoard:

There's two things I love about tweed yarns, especially Rowan ones:

  1. They're hardy and don't pill. My tweed sweaters still look good after >5 years of wear!
  2. They're very warm and perfect for outdoor sweaters and jackets.

My Staccato Jacket in Rowan Yorkshire Tweed

But there's one thing I hate about tweed yarns:

T H E Y   A R E   S C R A T C H Y !

I could never make a hat or a scarf out of these yarns without a lining, I'd be itching my brow all day. Even the Oxford Dictionary says:

Keyword being "rough"! So, I was delighted when I heard that Rowan was introducing a new yarn into their main collection called "Cashmere Tweed". Was this the first tweed yarn that I'd be able to wear next to my skin?

Cashmere Tweed is a bit of a misnomer -- the cashmere is not the main fiber, it's only 20%. The other 80% is extra fine merino wool though, so this stuff is VERY soft...

I like that the balls are only 25g, which is ideal for colorwork. I had 3 colors (Oats, Camel and Chocolate) so I decided to put the yarn to the ultimate no-scratchiness test with the Wilkie Hat pattern from the Cashmere Tweed booklet by Martin Storey.

The pattern is odd in that it only gives yarn quantities for the hat AND scarf! Let me help you. If you make the pattern as is, you'll need 2 skeins of main color and 1 skein each of the contrast colors. However, by removing two whole 8-stitch repeats, I only needed 1 skein of main color!

You can probably do this, too. I have a 21.5" (55cm) head circumference, the hat width came out to 20" and it would easily stretch to 25". 👍

I also changed the colors a bit. I liked the idea of 3 colors, but with a more subtle usage. I used the same color for the brim and the motifs BUT I added a 3rd color on the horizontal rows between motifs. I love how this looks! Also: there's no need to buy a 3rd color because so little is used, just use scraps of another DK or tweed yarn.

I also changed the top. Once the decreases start, the pattern continues in a solid color. I wanted to keep the colorwork going, so I just repeated the row between each motif in alternating colors. Sometimes the dots fell in the same column, sometimes not -- it didn't seem to matter at all because it looks pretty cool.

A note about fair-isle in the round: color patterns in the round jog at the join column because you are spiraling upwards as you knit. I just wanted to mention that this is really an ideal colorwork pattern for hiding this jog. There are certainly ways to hide this, but I want to mention that none of those shenanigans are really required in this case. There IS a jog, but it is barely visible, so just have fun and knit!

And what about the softness test? WE'VE FOUND IT, PEOPLE! Cashmere Tweed is the first real wool tweed I've personally come across that I would have no problem wearing directly on the skin. Hats, scarves, wrist warmers, turtlenecks -- you name it, I recommend it. The yarn is a little pricier because of the fiber content, but I must say it was such a pleasure to knit with that I think it's worth a splurge. Ahem... I've got a bag coming my way in Granite -- isn't it beautiful 😍?

I want to emphasize that this is not one of Rowan's "Limited Edition" yarns that only come out for one season. This is an addition to their main yarn lines and you can expect to find it in many yarn shops. To see a preview of all three of the yarns introduced for A/W 2017, check out this Facebook Live video I did on the Rowan Yarns Facebook Page:

HINT: they've added an affordable classic tweed to the line, too!

See my Cashmere Tweedy on Ravelry

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