Wearability Wednesday: mixed message

Welcome to another episode of Wearability Wednesday, in which I review a previously knitted garment, and comment on its wearability.  Do I wear it, or has it been consigned to a drawer?  How do I style it?  How has it held up?  Would I knit it again? What would I do differently? Does it fit?

Today we will look at this sweater:

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I knit this around this time last year.  I blogged about it quite extensively as it underwent a transformation or two on the needles.  It was a case of choosing the wrong pattern and yarn combination, realising half way through that it wasn’t going to work, and then morphing it into something else to take advantage of the yarn.  You can read about it here.  Given the mis-starts (including some sizing issues), I think it turned out pretty well.  I called it Ocean Waters.

Emma took the above photo yesterday.  You can see that the fit is good.  It is a cool and casual sweater: perfect with jeans, which is how I usually wear it.  It is a “going out for a long walk in the woods” sweater.  A “puttering around the house” sweater.  A “cosy up on the couch with a good book” sweater.  In other words, it is a sweatshirt kind of sweater, only far better because everyone knows that natural fibres beat fleece hands down.

This was the first (and so far, only) project which I knitted with Nua yarn, a new-ish yarn developed and distributed by Carol Feller.  The yarn is a blend of 60% merino wool, 20% yak, and 20% linen. It has a very rustic look, with long fibres, and muted colours (the linen takes up dye differently thus lending depth to the colour).  It is also very warm, due to the yak I suspect, which is why it didn’t lend itself to the summer top I had initially planned to knit.

So, back to the wearability question: do I wear it?  Yes, all of the time.  How is it holding up?  The short answer is: it has pilled terribly.  Here is a photo from a few weeks ago, which I took myself in a bit of a contortionist pose, in order to show some of the extent of pilling:

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This is pretty awful.  As a result, I tended to wear the sweater all of the time around the house – but not out in public.  I want to make clear that this yarn is the most cuddly, warm, deliciously soft next to the skin, absorbent, comfortable, lovely, natural, lightweight, scrumptious stuff ever.  But it pills if I just look at it.

It is also the case that I had not spent much time purposely trying to de-pill it.  So, last week, I took it to task, and tried my best to get rid of all the pills:

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Then, I washed it and laid it out to dry.  You can see from the photo at the top, and the below close-up that it definitely looks better after getting this spa treatment.

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You can also see how very beautiful the colours are, and how the blended yarns result in such a rich canvas.  I mean, this close-up is gorgeous!  Look at the stitch definition! However, I have been wearing it now for a few hours and already the sleeves are starting to pill again.  I have heard of sweaters which are initially very pilly and then magically cease to be after a few washes, and am hoping that might be true for this one.  Because, on every other count, I love this yarn.  It is incredibly warm for its weight, and as soft as can be.  I will continue to wear it and periodically de-pill it, and hope for the best.  And I will probably try Nua again on a different type of canvas – maybe as a cowl or a pair of mitts, perhaps with a smaller needle size and a textured stitch pattern (note that the sweater doesn’t show much pilling across the bodice which is knitted in a knit and purl patterned stitch).

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For all of you who asked me on Ravelry for a review of Nua, I have to say its a bit of a mixed message.  Regardless, it is cold here in the UK this week, and I am staying toasty warm in my Nua sweater.

11 thoughts on “Wearability Wednesday: mixed message

  1. Great idea to do a review a year or so later and see how it works for you. Unfortunately, most lovely comfy soft fibers pill terribly. Regular de-pilling and washing is a must, but I’m sure you will continue to enjoy wearing this lovely sweater for a long time.

  2. It’s so helpful to read reviews of a sweater a year later once you really know how the yarn and pattern are functioning! Perhaps after a few more washings and de-pillings the sweater will stop pilling so much? I hope so because it’s really lovely!

  3. Thanks for your helpful review.

    I love tweedy yarns and my son picked me up a skein of the Nua yarn to try. I still haven’t gotten around to using it, but after reading your review, I might opt for a hat, rather than the mittens I was planning to use it for.

  4. Hello Kelly. Let me tell you straithaway, I am very interested in pilling! Which means that I really hate it. A sweater or cardigan that you spend a long time knitting on that looks like a rag after only a few times wearing it. So I have a question. What do you use to depill?
    And more importantly since so many knitters read your blog, why don’t you start an item on pilling yarns and especially on yarns that do not pill. I want people to be honest about it. Don’t we all want our selfmade clothes to last a long time?
    I want to be proud of wearing a handknitted item in public always!

    • Hi Jelma! Thanks for commenting. I also hate pilling, especially after having put in the effort to knit something. For this sweater, I used a Lily Brush to de-pill it. But I have to admit that this is the first time I have ever successfully used it – I have tried it before on different types of knitted fabrics and didn’t like it. I think that it (the Lily Brush) works best with yarns that are already fuzzy or have a halo. To tell the truth, I often just de-pill by hand, pulling off each of the offending pills. I am told that a straight razor works best but haven’t tried it.

      As far as your other comment, I will think about writing a post or a series of posts about pilling. I do tend to mention pilling when I write my Wearability Posts. I agree with you – this is the kind of information we knitters need and fellow knitters are the best source of info.

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