A skein of Angora-Tweed
Angora-Tweed knitted up and washed
click each image to enlarge

Yarn Profile: Garnstudio Angora-Tweed

First Impressions
This yarn has been on my short list of favorites for years. It's an attractive but relatively understated yarn whose jumbled woolen spin incorporates two plies into a fuzzy but well-defined strand.

I first reviewed it in 2004, and then Angora-Tweed was relegated to the yarn graveyard. But Garnstudio has recently re-released it. And if that weren't good enough news, the SRP has dropped from $12.95 to $8.20 per skein. The original 14 colors have been paired down to a mere six, four of which are natural whites to greys—but they did keep a lovely pastel pink and blue as well.

Although the yarn is 70% Merino and 30% angora, the angora is rather subdued at first. On the skein, the yarn feels somewhat stiff and lifeless. Wash your finished garment, however, and you're in for a fantastic surprise.

Spun in England for Garnstudio in Norway, Angora-Tweed ships in 158-yard skeins. For this review, I chose Brown (06).

Knitting Up
Angora-Tweed is a woolen-spun yarn. This means that the angora and Merino fibers have been carded together into an airy jumble of fibers that, when spun together, produce a soft and lofty yarn. This yarn, in turn, produces a fuzzy, lightweight fabric.

Knitting with Angora-Tweed is easy and straightforward. Thanks to its moderate elasticity, the yarn clung to the needle and to my hands with just enough force to help me maintain perfectly even tension. There were no snags or significant problems, and after just a few rows, I was able to knit by touch alone.

But it's worth noting that, while Merino is a wonderfully crimpy and elastic fiber, angora is not. It lends incredible warmth and a light halo to the fabric.

The semi-jumbled nature of the woolen spin means that the yarn is not always of a perfectly even thickness. This produces a varied, almost oatmeal-like surface texture in knitted swatches. But there is still enough stitch definition to make Angora-Tweed well suited for textured knits.

The woolen spin also means that Angora-Tweed can perform well under several needle sizes. In fact, Garnstudio says it is appropriate for needles sized US 4 to 7 (3.5-4.5mm).

I knit swatches on US 4 and US 7 needles and could immediately see the difference. The larger needles produced a more open and airy fabric. The smaller needles gave me a decidedly more firm and dense fabric.

Blocking / Washing
Here's where this yarn works it magic. Drop your crisp swatches in warm sudsy water, swish them around a bit, and you'll immediately feel a difference.

The previously subdued angora fibers begin to work themselves free from their stitches, as do the Merino fibers, resulting in a cuddly piece of cohesive fabric. There's just enough angora to get the point across without being overwhelming or sneeze-inducing.

Even in the denser swatches knit with smaller needles, the halo was immediately visible. Swatches retained their shape perfectly without needing any blocking or pinning. Gauge was unchanged.

I wanted to bring out even more of the angora, so I tried shocking a swatch: dunking it in hot water, then cold, then hot, then cold, repeatedly. The resulting fabric was slightly thicker and fuzzier than the un-shocked swatches, with no change in gauge or color.

Wearing
Without the longer fibers of their worsted counterparts to hold things in place, woolen-spun yarns do tend to pill and wear out a little more quickly. Yet my swatches took quite a beating before showing their age—a sign that Garnstudio took the time to blend and process the fibers together correctly.

After being exposed to sustained friction, the swatches softened and their bloom became more pronounced. Over time, the loose fibers collected together in small pills that were easy to remove.

The yarn's heathered coloring and oatmeal-like surface helped conceal most signs of wear, although it didn't keep occasional stray fibers from flying around in the air. (Putting your garment in the freezer has been known to cure this phenomenon.)

Conclusion
Angora-Tweed produces a deceptively lightweight fabric that—because of the 30% angora—will keep you very warm. The slightly nubby surface texture is offset by the bloom of angora, making this yarn an intriguing option for ribbing (although the angora takes away some of the Merino's elasticity) or moderate stitchwork. But the yarn's earthy colors and subtle woolen texturing help it hold its own in simple stockinette. That same texture will also conceal any irregular stitches you may inadvertently make.

Angora-Tweed is also a stunning candidate for felting (the swatch is from my original review in 2004), with the angora providing an almost angelic glow to your fabric. In my experience, Angora-Tweed felts more slowly and retains more stitch definition than other yarns. It also loses little width during felting, while shrinking in height by at least half. I urge you to felt a test swatch to get your measurements correct before beginning a larger project.

Garnstudio has a vast collection of free patterns on its Web site, many of which have been translated into English. Some of the patterns are a bit dated, but the new ones coming from DROPS Design are extremely well-done.

A medium-sized women's sweater will require 9 skeins, which keeps the tab under $75. Considering the quality processing, premium fibers, and lovely wearing of the fabric, I believe your money will be well-spent.

I'm glad this yarn is back.

 
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