Ask the Knitters: Which yarn should I get?

20141229-sanquhar_cowlI posted about the Sanquhar Cowl by Wendy D. Johnson a while back. Even though I’ve been obsessing about it ever since, it hasn’t hit my needles yet, for two reasons. First, I’ve been working on other projects. Second, I haven’t had the available funds for the yarn. Well, progress is definitely being made on the existing projects, so the first reason may not be a factor any more. And, some wonderful friends gave me a gift card to WEBS for Christmas, so I may be able to afford a bit of a yarn shopping spree.

I’ve narrowed down the yarn options to three potentials, and now I’m stuck.

This is where you come in.


  • fingering weight
  • 1,500 yards (+extra) available in black
  • 1,300 yards (+extra) available in white
  • not going to bankrupt me

I understand that the fourth criterion is a bit nebulous, but each of the yarns listed here meet that requirement.

Working from least expensive to most, here’s what I’ve come up with.

Option 1: Cascade 220 Fingering

20141229-cascade_220_fingering-black20141229-cascade_220_fingering-whiteCascade 220 Fingering provides 273 yards per each $4.75 hank. This works out to 1.74¢ / yard. Based upon the yardage required, I will need 6 hanks of black and 6 hanks of white, which will total $57.00 (pre-tax, pre-shipping).

Pros: The most inexpensive yarn of the lot. Very much a known quantity. It looks to be pretty solidly in the ‘regular’ fingering weight range.

Cons: I’m not sure how soft it will be. And I seem to recall the yarn splitting pretty easily. The back is more dark grey than black, and the white is more cream than white.

Option 2: Cascade Forest Hills

20141229-cascade_forest_hills-black20141229-cascade_forest_hills-whiteCascade Forest Hills is a silk (51%) / merino wool (49%) blend that comes in whopping 785 balls for $20.00 each, resulting in a price-per-yard of 2.55¢. I will need 3 hanks each of black and white to meet the pattern requirements, for a total of $120.00 (again, pre-tax, pre-shipping).

Pros: A lovely fiber blend, which will extend the wearability of the finished cowl beyond just winter. The black is black, and the white is white. Tremendous yardage means fewer loose ends. (This is not that huge of a deal, though, as the project is worked in the round and the loose ends can simply be tied off and ignored.)

Cons: I’ve never worked with this yarn before. This yarn is certainly pricier than the 220. I’m not 100% convinced this isn’t a light fingering, or even a lace weight yarn. (For lace work, that would be fine, but for colorwork, a lighter weight yarn is going to allow the behind-the-scenes stuff to show through, which is suboptimal.)

Option 3: Shibui Cima

20141229-shibui_cima-black20141229-shibui_cima-whiteMy most expensive option is Shibui Cima, a 70% super baby alpaca / 30% merino wool blend. Each $15.00 hank provides 328 yards of wool, which gives a price-per-yard of 4.57¢. I will need 5 hanks each of black and white, which results in a pre-tax / pre-shipping total of $150.

ProsI did mention the baby alpaca, right? (Incredibly soft, for those not in the know.) The black is very very black.

Cons: Pricey. Nearly 3x as expensive as my cheapest option, and $30 more than my middle option. Again, I’m not 100% sure regarding the weight of the yarn: it looks a little thin. The white is more creamy than white.

Tell Me What You Think

So, those are my options. Part of me says that I should go with the 220, because: it’s my first serious colorwork project, so I should buy ‘working’ yarn instead of ‘showcase’ yarn; I’ve worked with it before and didn’t hate it; it’s clearly the proper weight needed for the project. But, on the other hand, I’m not sure I’m ever going to want to work this (very complex) pattern again, so shouldn’t I make the most of it?

What do you think? Or, do you have another yarn offered by WEBS that you’d like to throw into the ring? Tell me what you think I should do!


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