Yarn Choices for Cables

I’ve been travelling along the west coast of Ireland and the huge number of tourist shops selling Aran sweaters has me thinking about cables, yarn and sweater knitting. Every time I talk in a class about cables it got me thinking about yarn for cables and how to get them looking their best. I love knitting cables but the effect you get is very dependent on the yarn you use.

For full sweaters with all over cables, it’s best to have a light bouncy yarn. This means that you’ll be looking for a woollen spun yarn (this traps a lot of air for great bounce) and a yarn that’s non-superwash. Shaniko, pictured above, uses Imperial Yarn which is a heavy woollen spun yarn. It’s similar to Brooklyn Tweed’s Shelter yarn but just a bit heavier. Cables make yarn very heavy and by using woollen spun it helps to counteract this by giving it a bit of ‘bounce’. The lighter weight will also help avoid the sweater pulling out of shape.

Landscape Waves (above) knitted with Blue Moon Fibre Arts Targhee Worsted is an example of a worsted spun (smooth) yarn for cables BUT importantly it isn’t superwash! This means that it is heavier than a woollen spun yarn but due to the non-superwash nature it holds its shape well. For this cardigan, we want a bit of swing so a little bit more weight is actually an advantage.

Finally, we’ve got Dango knit from Bloomsbury DK which is a worsted spun, superwash yarn. I wouldn’t use this type of yarn for a full cabled sweater as it would be heavy and pull out of shape due to weight but with careful use, it can be great for accessories. You need to use a small needle size and knit at a tight gauge so it has a better chance of holding its shape.

Have I got you thinking about yarn choices for cable knits? What type of cable project do you think you’ll do next?



4 thoughts on “Yarn Choices for Cables

  1. I used a Briggs and Little Heritage yarn for one of the beehive type cables used in one of the berets in your book, Stolen Stitches. I’m deciding which of the Briggs and Little yarns would work for your Craftsy Portulacca. I had knit it a couple of years ago with a Debbie Bliss soft yarn and it pills terribly. Love the sweater enough to make it in better wool. And I live near Harvey, where Briggs and Little Wollen Mill is. A chance to buy local! I’ll also pick some for one of the cabled sweaters from Stolen Stitches. Thank you!

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