Yesterday I made it most of the way through seaming the second graft back together on Squiggles. And I made a bunch of swatches for a secret project and tossed them in the washing machine and dryer. It’s for a baby project, so I wanted to make sure that the yarn I chose would hold up to the abuse a mom (even a knitting mom) might give it.

The results were fascinating.

The candidate yarns: Mission Falls 1824 Wool (100% Merino Superwash), Cascade 220 Superwash (100% wool), and Lion Brand Wool-Ease (80% acrylic, 20% wool).

Each yarn was knitted into 6 inch squares on size 8 needles. Interestingly enough, I had identical gauge on each.

The abuse: Machine wash warm (All Free & Clear detergent); tumble dry medium heat (no fabric softener); mixed in with a bunch of socks and undies.

The performance:
None of the swatches shrank noticably. All of them came out very staticky as could be expected without softener. But the rest of performance varied.

Mission Falls: the swatch became decidedly fuzzy. So much so, that I took it out of the running immediately. To be fair, the label says “cool to lukewarm water” and “tumble dry low”. I guess they really mean it.

Cascade: This swatch got a tiny bit fuzzier, but it also became incredibly soft (I brought this swatch and the Lion Brand to work today, and all my co-workers immediately said it was super soft). And where my knitting was a tad irregular before washing, it looks flawless now.

Lion Brand: This swatch also got a tiny bit fuzzy, perhaps less so than the Cascade. However, where my knitting looked nicee and regular before tossing it in the washer, the fabric looks jaggedy and crisp now. I think the acrylic is showing itself. To be fair, it looks just fine, but it is a striking difference when compared to the Cascade.

Clearly, the Lion Brand was more forgiving when I knit it (so I’ll use it for my Master’s swatches), but it didn’t hold up as well to the abuse.

In the end, I think I’m going with the Cascade. While I will recommend to the mother that she take care in washing it, it’s good to know that if she forgets, it’s not the end of the world.


  1. robin:

    wow! this is such a great little review. thank you for sharing it with us. i am guilty of hardly ever swatching, or swatching as i knit the project, so to speak. i have been interested in doing some testing myself and wasn’t too sure where to get started but your post has inspired me to start planning it more seriously and then actually carrying out the experiment. so thanks!
    robin :)

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