Swatching: Get to Know Germantown Bulky

As a fun little project, 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. Want more? View previous posts on Lucky Tweed, Andorra, Scout, and Mojave. Enjoy! Germantown Bulky is the heavier weight cousin to our entirely U.S. sourced and spun yarn, Germantown.
Yarn Label

Yarn Characteristics

Germantown Bulky is a worsted spun, 4-ply, 100% wool yarn. The wool is known as territorial wool (or range wool), a bit of an archaic name for wool that comes from the former US Territories, broadly anything west of the Missouri River, but in the case of Germantown, mostly from Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. The most prevalent breeds are Rambouillet, Targhee, Columbia, and Polpay. The natural color of the fleeces has a more creamy tone than the whiter Australian or South American wools, and more crimp and body which makes for a loftier yarn with more bounce. We know that people love super super soft yarn, but there is really something to be said about a more rustic wool; with a bit of "tooth" like the wool used in Germantown Bulky comes a sturdier, longer lasting, harder wearing yarn. That said, Germantown Bulky is not scratchy, not in the slightest. It has a lovely hand, beautiful stitch definition, and is fine for next-to-skin wear.
The Swatches!
I had the absolute delight and pleasure to take a trip to Florida to visit friends at the end of September. Knowing much of the long weekend would be spent catching up, chatting, and sitting outside in the sun as much as possible, and therefore I wouldn't have the brainpower to knit anything too complicated, I brought a few skeins of Germantown Bulky and the corresponding needles with me to swatch. Basketweave Stitch: The first stitch pattern I tried was from the Korshavn Sweater by Tonje Hodne from Strikkekaffe. Korshavn calls for a gauge of 15 sts and 24 rows over 4", after blocking. US 9 / After blocking: 14 sts and 19 rows = 4″. While the stitch pattern looks awesome in the Germantown Bulky, the gauge is too loose, and going down in needle size would produce a fabric that is much too dense. I ended up swatching the same pattern with one strand of Germantown worsted held with 1 strand of Navia Alpakka, and the gauge was spot on! This sweater is high on my "must-knit" list, but I need to slow down on casting on new things before I clear up some old WIPs! Delia: I wanted to see what the cable and seed stitch from Delia would look in a larger scale. As there was no gauge to "match" with this one, I just picked up US 10 needles and went to town! The only change I made to the pattern was having 3 stitches in between the cables in lieu of the 5 on the original. US 10 / After blocking: 15 sts and 22 rows = 4″. I really enjoy this stitch pattern, but its not 100% perfect as-is. Maybe with even more seed stitches? Definitely something to consider for the future. Cables: My first cable swatch was a riff off of the cable in Kelby, one of my favorites, and oh boy howdy, was it a mess! I cast on while on the plane, and at the time I only had US 9 needles (the US 10 I used on subsequent swatches were in my suitcase), and it is just way too dense and the stitches turned to blurry mush. So much so, calculating gauge wasn't even worth the time, as the swatch was a non starter. The next cable swatch was a version of Jordan Pond, and this one was such a delight I just kept knitting...and knitting...and by the time I was headed back home I had the makings of a scarf, which turned into Travertine! In case you missed it, we announced the Year of Bulky Hats last week, and the first pattern, Wister by Courtney. I even knit the swatch for the upcoming February hat while in Florida, but you'll have to wait a little bit for that one!