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Yarn Profile: Cleckheaton Gusto

First Impressions
Most knitters are protective of their knitting time. We like knitting things for others, but only if those others happen to be people we like. But what about those people we don't particularly like -- say, the occasional in-law or boss -- who we still want to keep happy?

Here's where quick-knitting yarns come in handy (these are also referred to as "weekend yarns" because you can knit an entire sweater in two days). Most such yarns fall into two categories: inexpensive but uninspiring synthetics, or extremely expensive and luxurious (Colinette yarns are one such example). I'm happy to introduce a yarn that spans these two categories nicely: Cleckheaton Gusto.

The fiber content is 30% wool, 30% mohair, and 40% acrylic, which means you still get the satisfying feel and look of natural fiber but the durability and reasonable price of acrylics. Colors are limited to a rather basic, adult spectrum of black, navy, grey, white, cream, yellow, and berry red (names mine, not Cleckheaton's).

Knitting Up
Gusto knits up extremely fast and feels good in your hands. Its relative uniformity in thickness and color make it not as unique a yarn as the Colinettes of the world, but you still get a bit of variation in fiber colors (see picture above for example).

Otherwise, it's very easy to work with, and the stitches come out quite even -- even if, like me, your knit rows have the tendency to look a bit different than your purl rows.

Blocking / Washing
There was no noticeable color bleeding or fading. However, my swatches definitely loosened up. Prior to washing, I got 2 1/4 stitches per inch using size U.S. 15 needles.

But after washing, my gauge expanded to an even 2 stitches per inch. I don't see this as a huge problem, but you should definitely keep this in mind as you size your garment.

Wearing
Except for the expansion issue I just mentioned, my swatches passed the stress test with flying colors. There was no detectible pilling or deterioration, even after their date with a pair of jeans in the dryer.

And the end result was surprisingly soft and attractive. If you add a little bit of detail to your Gusto project -- say a few colors or a little cable here and there -- few people would know it only took you a weekend to make.

Conclusion
I wasn't prepared to like this yarn, simply because it's a bulky acrylic blend. Looking at the skein itself didn't give much inspiration, and the label was a bit too macho for my taste. But now, having put it through the paces, I stand corrected.

It's soft but durable, and the colors limited but attractive. An average-sized women's sweater would take about 11 skeins, at $6.99 apiece, so you're still looking at an investment... but well worth it if you want to keep peace in the family.

 
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Previous reader comments
"I agree with your Gusto review, however, I find it sheds terribly. I find I leave a trail of black fluff wherever I go when I wear my Gusto sweater. Also, it's a little itchy to wear without something between you and your Gusto!" artfunk54, 6/22/04