Swatching: Get to Know Andorra

This year I'm individually going over each Kelbourne Woolens yarn, and will discuss the characteristics, gauges, and go over a few different swatches and stitch patterns. Enjoy! View the first post on Lucky Tweed here. Whew! Where does the time go? I didn't mean to take such a long break in between these posts, but c'est la vie, eh? Next up in this series is Andorra, the first yarn released in the Kelbourne Woolens lineup!
Yarn Label
As mentioned previously, yarn labels tell you a lot about the yarn, and ours are no exception. A few notes: Fiber content: Although Merino and Highland are the same fiber (wool), we thought it was important to differentiate the percentages in Andorra. Merino wool is very well known amongst knitters and crocheters due to its softness and popularity. Highland wool, native to Peru - where Andorra is made - is a cross between Corriedale and Merino. It is not as soft as Merino, but it is stronger and adds durability and strength to the yarn. Mohair, known for its strength and luster, adds the halo and sheen unique to Andorra.
Yarn Characteristics
Currently our only sport weight yarn, Andorra is fine without being too thin, but heavy enough that it makes for a perfect sweater yarn. It is a 2-ply, meaning two strands of fiber are twisted together to create the final yarn. Andorra is a worsted spun and cone dyed: the fibers are blended, combed straight, and then spun into a fine single ply. After plying, the cones are dyed and then put up into 50 gram skeins. The worsted spun yarn is smooth, strong, and 2-ply creates a finished yarn that has excellent stitch definition.
The Swatches!
Stockinette Stitch: I was able to find a few sweater designs that really caught my eye for their use of stockinette paired with a gorgeous intricate stitch pattern. The Giesel Cardigan by Irina Anikeeva is an oversized cardigan with stockinette front and sleeves and a gorgeous intricate lace pattern on the back. The Estrella Pullover by Claudia Q for Ewe Knit is a top down raglan pullover with a Japanese lace pattern on the front, and plain back and sleeves. Giesel has a gauge of 24 stitches and 32 rows to 4" in Stockinette Stitch and Estrella a gauge of 23 stitches and 34 rows to 4″. I opted to swatch Andorra in stockinette stitch on US 3 and US 4 needles. I just copied and pasted this from the Lucky post, so pardon the reiteration, but it is worth repeating: needle size doesn’t matter, gauge does. You may find that you match gauge using a different needle size, and that is okay. That said, if you consistently need to go down or up more than 3 sizes to achieve gauge, you may want to look at your knitting technique. If you are a very loose knitter and always need to use a much smaller needle size, you may find that your stitches are very skinny but very tall. Conversely, if you are very tight, your stitches will be short and squat. The length of yarn that is required to knit a stitch is called the “loop length”, and a too tall or too short stitch will have a loop length that is out of proportion and your fabric will not have proper structural integrity, and stitch patterns such as color work might not be very clear. US 4 / After blocking: 22 sts and 30 rows = 4" US 3 / After blocking: 24 sts and 33 rows = 4" Oddly, there is a larger difference than I expected between the gauge on the two needle sizes. The US 4 is too loose for either pattern, and US 3 is too tight for the Estrella. If I wanted to match the gauge for the Estrella, I would swatch again on US 4 bamboo needles, as the stickiness makes me knit a bit tighter than metal, which is my preferred needle material. For the Giesel, my stitch gauge is correct on the US 3, but my row gauge is off by 1. From the way the garment is constructed, it would be very easy to use my tried and true method of counting rows and using the garment schematic to make sure my pieces are the correct length after blocking. Stitch Patterns: Andorra looks lovely in all manner of stitch patterns, including cables, lace, ribbing, and colorwork. Bernadette, from the Andorra Collection, is a classic turtleneck pullover in a knit/purl texture stitch. One of the free patterns in our catalog featuring Andorra is Llumeneres, an intricately cabled hat that shows off the stitch structure of Andorra beautifully. We write the gauge as the number of stitches per 4" (1o cm) in the stitch pattern, or the width of one pattern repeat. As there are typically more stitches in 4" in a cable pattern than stockinette, and an all over undulating cable pattern featured in Llumeneres makes it difficult to follow a straight line to count stitches, it is much easier to count repeats than it is measure out 4". You can read more about measuring gauge in cable pattern here. Texture Stitch: US 4 / After blocking: 24 sts and 36 rows = 4" Llumeneres Cable: US 3 / After blocking: 1 patt repeat (20 sts) = 2.25” (5.5 cm), and 32 rnds = 4” (10 cm) I am itching to cast on a sweater in Andorra after I finish my Lucky sweater (I opted for Toni and am loving the result). Perhaps I need another cardigan and should go for Giesel?