December 18, 2014

Fabric Friday: Wool Knits

Oh the rarity that is wool knit. Today's Fabric Friday is all about wool knit. So what does this mean exactly? Again, wool is the fiber type and knit is the type of fabric (weave/knit structure) we're dealing with. Knitted fabrics are actually knitted on large knitting machines. They are either knitted flat - meaning they have selvedge edges running along each vertical edge - or they are knitted in a tube. I've seen both in different fiber types, but let's get back to wool.

Wool knit is not easy to come by. I rarely, if ever, see them (even as a fabric store owner with some good fabric getting connections). When I see them, I snatch them up like they are going out of style!

I like to think of wool knits in 4 categories - just to keep it relatively simple. There's wool jersey - this means that the cloth is knitted from a single yarn. Think t-shirt weight. I also classify wool rib knit in this category too. A good quality wool jersey will have a nice drape and will be soft.  The nice thing with jersey weight wool knits is that they can be fairly thin and they will still last you a good long while if you keep the moths at bay. Wools are awesome in this way. Wool jerseys sometimes have a bit of spandex (or Lycra) in them, for recovery (meaning it won't stretch out of shape and never come back!).

Wool Double Knit is next. To create a double knit, two fabrics are knitted simultaneously at the same time which creates thicker, denser cloth. This is one of my favorites. Wool Double Knit (or ponte knit too) usually doesn't curl making it easier to handle and deal with and it's just beefier than your average jersey. It's lovely cloth. Sometimes, double knits have some spandex in them too, just for nice recovery.

Third category is Boiled Wool. Boiled wool is kind of special because it's formation is actually made from boiling wool, hence its namesake. It can be made from either a woven or knit wool and from there the cloth is boiled and agitated. This causes the wool to shrink in both directions and creates a lofty sort of cloth. Additionally, it tends to have a nice amount of give in the cross-grain. Would make a perfect Oslo - the new Seamwork cardigan. Ends up being a bit of a sweatery knit with nice bumpy irregular texture. Very warm too.

Sweater knits comprise the fourth category. Even though boiled wool is kind of a sweater knit, I tend to put it in its own category because it's formation is a little bit special. Sweater knits can be regular knit or raschel knit - meaning it has more of a lacy feel to it. These are generally, well sweatery. Think sweater and you have the idea. They sometimes feature interesting designs in the knit - like cables and such. My apologies for featuring a boring solid color photo for the sweater knits - I don't have any fun or funky design wool sweater knits on hand! Several sweater knits are made of wool or are a wool blend (I see these often coupled with acrylic, polyester or nylon).

Since we've covered fiber types, I thought I would also mention that I mostly see merino, cashmere and angora rockin the knits. In fact, I daresay, I've never seen a merino wool that wasn't a knit - what about you? If you come across these in wool knit yardage then it's worth it to take a closer look and possibly even add to your stash. These particular types are usually quite soft and little fluffy.

Do have any wool knits in your stash? These are worth having!

For more about Wools, visit the Working with Wool Section!

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