Drea Renee Knits

Knitting with Yak Down, Fiber Wash for Fine Fibers, & the Importance of Blocking Your Swatches

knitting, techniques, yarnAndrea Mowry4 Comments
Bijou Bliss 50/50 Yak Down & Cormo Blend

Bijou Bliss 50/50 Yak Down & Cormo Blend

Let's start with the yarn, Bijou Basin Ranch Bijou Bliss - because without the yarn, there would be no swatch. This yarn was an unexpected treat for me. I had never knit with Yak Down, but I knew I loved Cormo. Cormo is so springy and soft, and I highly recommend it! Blended with the Yak Down, you get a yarn that is supple and soft enough to wear next to your skin, but that feels sturdy enough to be sweater worthy. The kind of sweater you adore and that can be lovingly handed down thru generations. This bouncy yarn was was telling me it wanted to be cables, and with my new stitch dictionary at hand, I happily agreed.

Cable Fabric knit up from The Knitting All Around Stitch Dictionary by Wendy Bernard

Cable Fabric knit up from The Knitting All Around Stitch Dictionary by Wendy Bernard

I would love to knit a cabled Fishermen's sweater out of this yarn. I love both the cream and brown natural colors, but I also think the cream would be a delight for any natural dyer to work their magic on!

Allure Fine Fiber Wash

Allure Fine Fiber Wash

After knitting up my swatch I gave it a soak in Allure Fine Fiber Wash. This fiber wash is amazing for any of your specialty fibers, including cashmere! It is a no-rinse wash, which if you read my last post on blocking, you know I highly prefer, especially for delicate fibers! I then squeezed out the extra moisture, gently, using a hand towel, and pinned it on a blocking mat to open up the cables while it dried.

So youmight be thinking to yourself - "Ugh! I already avoid swatching like the plague, and now you want me to block my swatch as well?!?! I just want to cast on!" I feel ya. But let's take a look at my swatches before and after blocking.

My swatch BEFORE blocking.

My swatch BEFORE blocking.

My swatch AFTER blocking.

My swatch AFTER blocking.

My swatch before blocking was 5 x 4.5 inches, after blocking it grew to 5.5 x 4.75 inches. Think about the difference in gauge! If you are knitting a sweater and try to go by your unblocked swatch, once you block your finished garment, it will be way too big. The nice thing about swatches - lay them in a sunny spot, and they only take afew hours to dry. It is so worth that extra bit of time to ensure that whatever you are knitting, will turn out just how you had hoped! This will also tell you what sort of drape can be expected of your finished fabric. Depending on what you are knitting, this may lead you to want to change needle sizes. And as you can imagine - when it comes to cables and lace, you have to block to open them up! Swatching has become a part of the process that I really enjoy now. I like to think of them as quick little "palette cleansers" between projects. Its my first opportunity to get to know the yarn and stitches that I will be using for my project, and I can't help but love my little basket full of swatches. Each one a memory of that time in my life and the project I was working on!

I highly recommend this yarn, especially for all of you breed-specific yarn fans! And now you know which fiber wash to get for your more delicate blends! Get swatching and blocking my friends, you won't regret it (and some of you may even come to love it!)


Congratulations to Meg on winning last week's giveaway!! I've emailed you!