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A skein of Summer Tweed
Summer Tweed once knitted up

Yarn Profile: Summer Tweed

First Impressions
Even the finest yarn companies can produce occasional oddities. That's what I told myself about Rowan and its Summer Tweed.

This lightweight silk/cotton blend has been spun to achieve a very raw, tweedy texture similar to that of oatmeal, with an equally dry, almost powdery texture.

Although there are a few natural, earthy colors available, the majority are bright and obviously artificial.

Knitting Up
My test skein came straight from Rowan's warehouses in the U.K. and still had an extremely strong smell. After many a sniff, I decided the smell was reminiscent of a kitchen store, with its mixture of spices, herbs, oils, and cardboard boxes.

The texture and smell may not have been that knitterly, but the yarn itself knit up extremely well. Stitches moved smoothly and snaglessly from needle to needle, appearing steady and even in the knitted swatches.

By the very nature of its spin and fiber composition, Summer Tweed has absolutely no bounce or elasticity. You'll want to maintain a relaxed tension so you'll have room to ease your needles into each stitch. For the same reasons, be sure to cast on and off loosely.

There were small brown papery flecks in the yarn, many of which ended up on my lap by the time I was done knitting.

Blocking / Washing
My swatches bled faintly in a lukewarm wash with Ivory soap. When I pulled them out to rinse, I noticed a dirtlike layer of debris at the bottom of the water. This wouldn't surprise me if I were washing a raw fleece, but to see it in a Rowan yarn was a bit unexpected.

The swatches lost most of their peculiar smell in the wash. With a little careful prodding, they dried in perfect form.

The fabric relaxed and flattened without any change in gauge.

Wearing
Summer Tweed was interesting to test because the swatches looked aged the minute they came off the needles. My thrashing just continued the process rather than producing any sudden surprises. Pills emerged but were almost entirely concealed by the yarn's innate tweedy flecks.

The washed swatches became much softer, yet they didn't lose their dry papery feel. The more I thrashed them, the softer they became.

There's no bounce or fiber memory to this yarn, so most garments will require periodic reblocking.

Conclusion
Funny, I'm used to Rowan yarns looking perfect at the beginning and then quickly showing their age with modest wear. I had a strong initial dislike of Summer Tweed because of how it looked and felt on the skein. But with each bit of wear, the yarn became more palatable.

I still think its oatmeal-like texture could have used a more earthy color treatment. Fluorescent green and tangerine orange seem a little out of place.

Summer Tweed would perform beautifully as a fitted lightweight summer tank top or short-sleeved sweater. I can imagine the elbows wearing thin prematurely on any long-sleeved sweater, however.

Considering Summer Tweed's silk content and the designer origin, contrasted with its pre-aged look, the $7.95 per 118-yard skein price is reasonably fair. But because of the disconnect between the yarn's look and feel (at least initially), I strongly recommend you touch it yourself before you buy.

 
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