People who enjoy knitting usually don’t take time off from it, they just go on knitting year round, simply changing the type of yarn employed.
In simple terms, for summer garments cotton in various combinations is used, while, in the winter, different types of wool are usually preferred. For spring and fall, on the other hand, it is somewhat difficult to choose the right material.
Today I’m going to go over a kind of yarn I personally think is just perfect for these two seasons. It is born out of two precious yarns: cashmere and silk.
Silk, known since ancient times, is a fibre typically with little elasticity, very soft to touch, and very shiny. Its softness and sheen are much appreciated, but they are not the only valued characteristics. Silk absorbs humidity well, it doesn’t leave you with the wet feeling on the skin, and it is also a good thermic conductor, as well as an excellent electric insulator.
Wearing a silk scarf on the neck, brings a marvelous sensation of wellbeing.
Cashmere, on the other hand, is a flexible fibre, light and soft, with a great thermic insulation capability, both from cold and heat.
It is impossible to put into words the incredible softness and lightness of garments made with a mixed silk-cashmere yarn.
Surfing through the Hircus Filati site, you will find a large range of machine cashmere-silk yarn to create a great array of clothing and accessories. They will be loved by those who wear them.
Machine yarns can also be used for hand knitting. Obviously you will have too join more threads.
The sample shown below is made with three threads of mixed cashmere-silk (50% cashmere and 50% silk). The number metric of the yarn is Nm 2/28, so relatively thin.
In any case, three threads knitted together with size 3,5 needles are enough to knit an accessory or a clothing item. Surely you know that the choice of knitting needles size also depends on your “hand”. Mine, for instance, is rather loose, so if yours is tight, I suggest you use number 4 needles. Just try it over a few times, bearing in mind that cashmere doesn’t work well with tight work :-).
While knitting this small sample, I was really impressed by the softness and the sheen of the yarn. It is such a pleasure to touch and work with it, that probably, shortly, I will come up with some sort of project made with cashmere-silk.
The two ways to knit and care for your non-treated yarns.
There are two ways to wash your non-treated yarns on cones so that they look as luxurious as with knitwear bought in shops.
One is simple and straigthforward, the other not quite as much.
Let’s start with the more simple one.
Wash the yarn before knitting. As you pull the yarn from the cone, wind the yarn in skeins of 200-250 gr either using a wool-winder or, if not available, the backrest of a chair; with the skein, very carefully bind the threads together, with at least 4-5 strong horizontal knots, at the same distance along the skein in order to keep it together and to prevent it from getting tangled during the wash: if the knots are not well done, there is a higher risk of the yarn getting tangled and difficult to undo and work with after. You don’t want to risk having to throw everything away. When the skeins are tied firmly, follow the instructions provided to machine-wash at the end of the page. I highly recommend making a sample in any case before you actually start the final production. In following this alternative, you may use the ready washed yarn right after it has dried (hanging the skeins is fine) and start knitting. It is possible to make balls or knit straight from the skein.
Knit the yarn and thus wash the article produced. First make a sample of 10×10 cm or even better 20×20 cm using the same stitch you intend to use in the final garment. Count the number of stitches and measure precisely the sample before and after washing. Wash the sample in the washing machine following the instructions provided at the end pf the page. This way you can easily assess the yield, develop sizing and therefore determine overall consumption. Also it enables you to get an idea of the feel of the garment produced. That is, if the sample becomes tight (thicker yarn), you will obtain less softness and greater resistance to pilling, whereas, if the sample becomes looser (less thick yarn) you will enjoy higher softness and lesser resistance to pilling.
When knitting by machine it is suggested to follow the second way.
Machine washing instructions
Premise. Sometimes it may be necessary to steam the sample or the product before or after washing. By steaming we mean moving the steaming iron over, NOT ON, the sample and/or the product. DO NOT place the iron on the sample / product at any stage.
– Machine wash at 30° C for 7 minutes with very little, mild detergent
– Rinse in the washing machine
– Machine wash at 30° C for 7 minutes with very little fabric softener and 1/4 measuring cup of white wine vinegar
– Spin at 1000 rpm for 5 minutes
– Dry flat without exposing to direct sunlight
You may perform this washing procedure either on the sample, the final knitwear and the yarn itself.
This washing procedure should be performed only the first time; after, as clothing, we advise washing by hand.
If you want your Cashmere knitwear to remain soft and fluffy, please follow these instructions:
Soak in lukewarm water and use just a little detergent or shampoo, and add, in case of stripes or bright colours, a drop of white vinegar.
Leave soaking for a while, no more than10-15 minutes.
Do not rub, and handle gently.
Rinse patiently several times and with plenty of water, lukewarm as before, until the water is perfectly clear.
Do not wring; instead press gently to get rid of water.
Wrap it in a terrycloth or a towel to absorb excess water.
Spread it flat on a horizontal surface, taking care to avoid direct sunlight.
Dry at room temperature, never near a source of heat.
Iron it with a strong jet of steam, neverpress with iron.
Suggestion: wash your Cashmere garment often, and its fibres will find new life and your garment will always look brand new.
Cashmere yarn (on reels) used in either machine- or hand-knitting is usually never treated—if not very rarely, and should be washed only at the end of the knitting process. To prevent the yarn from breaking and other risks associated with machine manufacturing, such as needle breaking, machine knitting is mainly done with non-treated yarn.
My first and most important suggestion is to always prepare a small sample (10 × 10 cm or better still, 20 × 20 cm) and wash it in the washing machine before starting the final work. Cashmere yarn, in fact, is never identical, even if the thread count is the same. So many variables are at play during production, from spinning to dyeing, that it is not easy to obtain a consistent and homogenous product.
Firstly, each spinning mill has its own production methods and its own market requirements; therefore the yarns can come out coarser or softer and may also have a different dye. Moreover, even within the production range of yarns from the same spinning mill, differences can emerge, with regards to the colours, for example; lighter colours require greater attention in the machining and in the first wash as opposed to the darker and melange colours. Darker colour yarns will always be more coarse than those in light colours, because in the dyeing process, stronger colour fixing agents are used to prevent colours running during washing and fading with time, thus affecting the softness of the fibre.
The type of processing also affects the yarn. Cashmere tends to swell when washing, so to achieve maximum softness, it is important to allow room for the swelling, by working with a slightly looser/larger stitch. On the other hand, to achieve the maximum resistance especially with regards to pilling (the typical defect where bobbles form on the surface of cashmere sweaters), the tendency is to work with a tighter stitch. As a result, the knitting won’t be as soft, will be slightly heavier, but a lot more resistant to pilling.
Some advice for washing:
Preliminary remarks: 1 – Sometimes you may need to steam the sample and the finished garment both before and after the wash. By steaming we mean releasing steam from the iron over either the sample or the finished article, WITHOUT actually touching it with the iron itself. 2 – The following washing instructions are generic and basic. Before washing the sample, make sure to measure it, so you’ll be able to establish how much it has shrunk. Also check the sample for results in softness and hair, in order to decide on a tighter or looser knit, and/or a stronger/lighter wash. In fact, if knitted too tight, cashmere will not release its full softness as it tends to swell; if washed lightly, less hair and softness will be achieved, while the opposite is true if machine washing for longer. To obtain more hair from the yarn, increase the spinning cycle in the wash, but be careful not to overdo. If needed, have more samples to try out results with different washing cycles and tighter/looser knitting. 3 – All of the above also applies to hand-knitted or crocheted yarn.
The washing machine should be used with machine knitted, non-treated yarn. We suggest a very delicate cycle; addition of vinegar will prove an excellent agent against limescale. – Machine wash at 30° C for 7 minutes with a very small quantity of mild detergent – Rinse by machine – Machine wash at 30° C for 7 minutes with a very small quantity of fabric softener and 1/4 of a measuring cup of white wine vinegar (not red vinegar, as it stains). – Spin at 400 rpm for 5 minutes (or as little as possible) – Dry flat without exposing to direct sunlight and without wringing the item (as it will stretch) – For strong and contrasting colors (as in striped knitwear and jacquard) we recommend to dry clean first and then wash at half load with plenty of water. This washing procedure applies to samples, finished garments and the yarn itself.
WARNING : This washing procedure should be performed only the first time; after that we suggest you wash your items by hand following this procedure.
If you want your sweater to remain soft and fluffy follow these tips:
Soak in lukewarm water with a mild detergent (use as little as possible), and add, in case of stripes or bright colors, a drop of white vinegar. Leave soaking for a while, no more than ten – fifteen minutes. Do not rub, and handle gently. Rinse patiently several times and with plenty of water, lukewarm as before, until the water is perfectly clear. Do not wring; instead press gently to get rid of water. Wrap it in a terry cloth or a towel to absorb excess water. Spread it flat on a horizontal surface, taking care to avoid direct sunlight. Dry at room temperature, never near a source of heat. Iron it with a strong jet of steam, never placing the iron on the garment.
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