Swatching: Get to Know Mojave

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. Want more? View previous posts on Lucky Tweed, Andorra, and Scout. Enjoy! Mojave is our quintessential cotton linen blend yarn. Mojave seems to grow in popularity every year, and we cannot get enough of how much y'all love this delightful summer blend!
Yarn Label
A few notes: Fiber content: Mojave is currently our only cotton/linen blend yarn. The combination of 60% cotton and 40% linen makes for a soft, crisp finished product that is really lovely to knit. We opted to use unmercerized cotton, as the mercerization process chemically alters the cotton fibers, makes them shinier, and the resultant yarn tends to have a hand that is more rope-like.
Yarn Characteristics
Finding a good balance of cotton and linen was important when designing Mojave, as linen has a tendency to be very stiff and unforgiving during the making process. As a result, there is slightly more cotton in the blend that the linen. As with all yarn blends, the percentage of cotton (60%) is a measurement of weight, so a 60/40 blend means that 60% of the total weight of the fiber is cotton, and 40% of the total weight of the fiber is linen. In other words, in 100 grams of fiber, 60 grams are cotton, and 40 grams are linen. This doesn't make a huge difference in a blend such as Mojave, as both fibers are cellulose (although linen is a heavier fiber), but in a yarn with an incredibly light fiber such as angora paired with a heavier fiber such as linen, a small percentage of the lighter fiber goes a very long way. Another characteristic of Mojave that sets it apart from other Kelbourne Woolens yarns is that it is a 5 ply yarn, and each of the 5 plies is a very fine 2-ply, so 10 individual thread-weight strands are plied together to create the finished yarn.
The Swatches!
Our intrepid intern, Lena, got very excited when I mentioned I was featuring Mojave next in this series, as she had her eye on the As Friends Tank and accompanying Look At My Holes crop. As luck would have it, they are both designed in Mojave! Stockinette Stitch and Mesh Pattern: As Friends a gauge of 22 stitches and 32 rows over 4 inches in stockinette on US 6 needles. Look at My Holes has a gauge of 14 stitches and 20 rows over 4 inches in Mesh Pattern on US 9 needles. US 6 / After blocking: 23 sts and 31 rows = 4″ US 9 / After blocking: 16 sts and 18 rows = 4″ For both of Lena's swatches, the stitch gauge is too tight and row gauge is too loose. Swatching on one size up should fix stitch gauge. (This is where I copy and paste my spiel - again! - about needle size and gauge and tell you to read it here.) This will most likely make her row gauge even looser, but as with most of my recommendations surrounding row gauge, she would then count rows, not inches, to determine the correct length of her pieces. Easy peasy! Crochet: When contemplating what I wanted to swatch in Mojave, I turned to the crochet collection we released in the summer of 2019. The stitch patterns on the Canyon Camisole have always intrigued me (and I love the vibe of the shoot), so I grabbed a skein of Pickle and went to town! Latinx model wearing a natural, linen cotton crocheted Kelbourne Woolens Mojave tank top with lace hem. Linen Stitch: The gauge for the pattern is given in linen stitch, as that is the main stitch pattern for the tank: 23 sts and 20 rows = 4″ (10 cm) on F/5 (3.75 mm) hook in Linen Stitch, after blocking. US F/5 (3.75) / After blocking: 24 sts and 19 rows = 4″. So close! It's very easy to go up a G/6 4 mm hook and try again, but I also like the density of the fabric so I did a few quick calculations to see what finished circumference working at this gauge would give me: The 2nd or 3rd sizes as written make a 39.25 or 45" finished bust. Using the 114 (130) stitch count, at a gauge of 6 stitches to the inch, I'd end up with a 19 (21.5)" wide fabric for each front and back. Taking seaming into account, this leaves me with a finished circumference of 37.25 (42.5)". I have a 36" bust and like my sweaters with at least 4" of ease, so I'd go with the 3rd (new finished size of 42.5") and think it would work out just fine! Lena cast on an As Friends as soon as we sorted out her swatch, and I finally sorted the colors on my Molly sweater, so that has been my main focus this July. My goal is to finish Molly by fall - but maybe I should also try to sneak in a new summer sweater before the season is over?