Friday, 9 May 2014

review - knitting with cotton

I have recently been working on a doggy draught-excluder from a book of old patterns I bought a long time ago - intended for a child's nursery with bright colours I fell in love with the picture and thought I simply have to make that properly which means of course, don't use the stash, buy the yarn in!

And so I went to trusty ol' Deramores during one of their (many) sales and bought the required Rowan Handknit Cotton (100% cotton, 50g balls) in the following colours; delphinium, sugar, celery, atlantic, sunshine, and burnt. All of these colours are pastel/subdued versions of those recommended in the pattern because I didn't want a super brightly coloured dog as this is for my room, not a child's room.

I have never knit with 100% cotton before and although I am only partly through the pattern I wanted to share with you some thoughts I've had.

the bits I like
The colours are absolutely gorgeous and compliment each other better that I imagined, the cotton holds a much more solid shade than synthetics or even wool and stands out very distinctly - no wonder this is recommended for a child's toy! It is also terrifically soft to hold both in its ball and once knitted. and feels very durable. The finish too is really great - since taking these pictures I have knitted 3 more colour blocks and the finish is really beautiful, smooth, bold. This material is rather expensive (I waited to buy this during a 20%off sale!) but with the finish I am getting thus far the expense is justified, though I won't be rushing to spend the amount again (about £20 for 300g total with the sale)

the bits I don't
This is probably more to do with me than the yarn but I have never worked with cotton and I find it a very unforgiving yarn. I have found it very difficult to maintain the same tension across my knitting so I must rely heavily on the yarn to do a lot of work for me. Cotton does not do this for me.
As you can see in the above picture (with my helpful arrows) I am getting a lot of 'bumps' in my rows where the tension isn't the same. I know a bad craftswoman blames her tools but it is a little frustrating! In subsequent colours I have managed to keep a more even tension but I have to knit slower as a still frustrating really - I suppose however it means I am learning!
The cotton is also rather stiff on the needles - which is great if you are prone to dropping stitches or slipping them off accidentally as the cotton holds it's shape so you can quickly rectify it. However this too slows down my knitting a lot.

the verdict
A bit of a love/hate relationship - a tricky new material to work with and expensive, but once I began to get the hang of it the finish is much better than that of a synthetic. It is also durable, soft, and very bold. I would recommend this for knitters who are confident in their knitting as tension is difficult to maintain (as I am finding) and you need to know you will enjoy working with it for the cost.

Over time I don't doubt I will find it easier to knit with cotton and will even come to love it - I get a feeling already I am starting to love it, there are just one too many bumps along the way!

Have you ever knit with cotton? Am I alone in my difficulties? :) I can't wait to show you the finished sausage dog though!


  1. I've crocheted in cotton a couple of times and I do love how soft it is and just the choices of colours just seem so much brighter. I have had issues with neatness with it, cotton seems to make any not so perfect stitches stand out all the more, although that could be down to my stitching rather than the wool!

    1. Oh I am glad you've had the same issue as me! Mm perhaps it is our stitching but the material must play a part too - cotton evidently takes a little mastering but I feel it will be worth it in the end :)