How’s it holding up?

First off, I did an interview with the incredibly gracious Lumia of Worsted Knitt, so if you’d like to read it, head on over and check it out!

I’ve been meaning to do this for ages: take out old projects that I’ve worn many times and check in with how the yarn is holding up. My initial reaction to a yarn is often enthusiastic. I choose yarns because I like them, and I usually like working with the yarns I chose, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right yarn for a given project, or even that it’s a great yarn. I’m going to pull out some of my most worn sweaters and let you know how they’re doing. I have taken photos of high stress areas on each sweater, but sometimes a photo alone doesn’t convey what is right or wrong with a given yarn for a given project.

I’m going to start with the bad news here.

Joelle’s Favorite Yoke Sweater

Oh my gosh you guys. This is my Joelle’s Favorite Yoke Sweater, which I made back in 2008. The yarn is Dream in Color Smooshy. I loved this sweater so much when I made it, but it has not worn well at all. Part of this is probably not the fault of the yarn – the sweater was accidentally put through the washer and dryer a couple of different times, and although the yarn is superwash merino, this is really not the best way to treat it. However, I don’t think all of this can be blamed on the washer. The yarn under my arms felted and stretched and wore very poorly. The whole sweater has almost a crispy crunchy feel to it. I have a scarf knit in Smooshy that has worn much better with hand washing and less friction, but I never wear this sweater now because it’s plain uncomfortable. It also looks kind of icky because of the fabric’s stiffness. I do not think I will use Smooshy for a garment again because of the way it’s worn in high friction areas.


The next sweater on our tour of ugg is my O W L S sweater. The pattern itself is one of my favorites, and I will surely remake this sweater one day. However I am very, very disappointed in my yarn choice, which was RYC Soft Tweed, now discontinued. I don’t really know the intricacies of Rowan’s decision to have a separate line under the RYC label, but so far my impression has been that RYC yarns don’t hold up as well as traditional Rowan label yarns. Soft Tweed was a wool, rayon, silk, and nylon yarn that was spun in a soft, puffy multi ply that looked like a single ply. It felt heavenly when first knit up, very warm and light. It had an unfortunate tendency to grow when worn, and this had done that – a sweater that was skin tight when first knit has gradually loosened over time and become baggier. But that’s not my main complaint. The yarn itself went from being soft and puffy to dry and sort of shoddy in look and feel. High stress areas on the garment became pilly, which I don’t always object to much, but in this case, they felt first pilly and then noticeably thinner than other parts of the sweater. The whole thing now feels cheap and unattractive instead of luxurious and soft.

Maude Louise

Maude Louise II was made from another discontinued RYC yarn, Soft Lux, a blend of merino, nylon, angora, and a metallic sparkly thread. This yarn has held up considerably better than the Soft Tweed, but still has not held up quite as well as I’d hope, particularly in high friction areas like under the arms and against the sides of the sweater. It has loosened over time so that ribbed areas are now quite baggy, and the elbows have stretched out a little. It is still soft and while I think it looks less lovely than it did when I first finished it, I can and do wear it. I would use a stronger wearing yarn, though, were I to make it a third time. (I don’t foresee a third time coming up, but if it did, I think I’d pick a strong pure wool.)

McQueen Knockoff

I know this sweater looks pilly, and it is, but the news here is mostly good. This is my McQueen Knockoff, knit in Knit Picks Andean Treasure. Andean Treasure is a pure baby alpaca that comes in beautiful heathered shades and at Knit Picks’ typical excellent prices. I wear this sweater a lot in the winter, and it is crazy warm and pretty. It does pill, yes, but the sweater itself has remained structurally intact despite frequent wearings, and the yarn has gotten softer with the wearing. I do have to depill high stress areas of the sweater, and the yarn has settled a bit around the cables, making them oddly smooth, but I love this sweater so much, and I think Andean Treasure is a really nice sweater yarn. If you don’t mind going over your sweater with a sweater stone every so often, this yarn is a great choice for a late fall/winter sweater.


Liesel was my first knit of 2010, a birthday present to myself knit out of Sundara Aran Silky Merino, one of the most expensive yarns I’d ever purchased at that point. I was very very pleased with how it looked and knit up, and overall, I am still just as pleased. I think ASM has just enough twist to the single ply to make it stronger than a one ply merino/silk blend might usually be. It has fuzzed and softened with wear, but has not worn out. Part of this is that I wear it fairly rarely, and when I do, I am very careful of the yarn. The colorway, Arabian Nights, is one of my favorites and I want it to last. It is not the strongest yarn out there, but I think it’s a good choice for Liesel, a cardigan that I wear in the spring and late autumn when the weather is sort of undecided, and that dresses up a tank top beautifully. Another reason to combine this yarn and pattern is that Liesel takes very very little yarn to knit, making it a perfect showcase for expensive yarns you might not usually buy.

I have five more sweaters that I took out, so I’ll continue this soon!


4 Responses to “How’s it holding up?”

  1. kiwiyarns Says:

    That’s a great review! Thanks for sharing your views on how the yarns you selected have held up.

  2. Amy Says:

    I love that you did this! I wish more knitters (and esp. designers) talked frankly about how the yarn holds up over time. Thanks Kristen!!

  3. Lisa Says:

    My experience has been the same with Dream in Color Starry. I used it to knit the Geodesic cardigan by Connie Chang Chinchio and it has not worn well at all. My socks made from Smoosy have held up better, probably because of the tighter gauge, even though I machine wash them. I don’t think DiC sock yarns work well for sweater gauges.

  4. Cheap Materials for your Home Says:

    Cheap Materials for your Home…

    […]How’s it holding up? « Knitting Kninja[…]…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: