Yarn Detective: Drape and Elasticity

July 22, 2022

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  • THIS would be a fantastic Shakerag-ish workshop topic. Jillian supplies sample yarns and we bring our favorites as well.

    • I agree; would love to attend a workshop on this topic!

  • Wow, thorough, well-written, extremely informative article. Thank you

    • Love ur articles

  • Thank you for this superb article. It is wonderful to have so much information in one place….right at our fingertips. I know I will refer to this many times in the future.

  • I enjoyed this informative article. On a different topic, what type of yarn is most likely to pill and conversely which yarn isn’t likely to pill?

    • I was told by my LYS years ago “the softer the yarn the more it pills”. This after I made 12 pair of fingerless mitts for gifts from a Churchmouse pattern using Rowan’s Finest as called for (not sure if still made). Saw one pair a few months later, looked like a cat shredded them but happened only from wear, in & out of pockets, very depressing. Still love the pattern but now only use sock yarn for mitts! Possibly all the things Jillian talks about also effects pilling (or not), perhaps she could address sometime. I’ve read the longer the fiber the less it pills but hard to know that at a glance or feel. Another example, I use Shibui Cima in scarves & shawls (sadly now discontinued), soft yet doesn’t pill from many wearings & a go-to fav, but Shibui Staccato very disappointing in a shawl I love so never bought again. Since mitt fiasco feel I must test a yarn for myself for durability on something before making a gift for someone which is ridiculously time consuming, not practical. Yarn is too expensive in time & materials for disappointing wear so if I find a yarn I love I stick with it (then it gets discontinued).

  • I can attest to the drape of Gleem Lace (big fan of BFL), but I was appalled by the pilling due, I think, to the silk component, Even the most careful tinking produced heartache.

  • The spectrum of drape to not drapey in fabrics is drape/body. I totally see and understand the factors here that are giving the yarns more and less drape. In machine made knits, drapey does not necessarily mean inelastic (in fact, there’s often a lot of stretch). Machine knits with body are often fairly inelastic, but could be.

    My mind is churning over whether for natural hand knitting fibers it’s sort of universal that elastic yarns will always have to be knit at loose gauge to be drapey. And that yarns with no stretch will be drapey.

    Thanks for these columns, I love them.

  • So much good information! For those of us who cannot, for the life of us, keep these variables in our heads, is there a chart or a matrix we could pull out when shopping? I’m just sayin that there might be someone who would need help remembering.

    • Yes, please!

  • Wonderful article with so much information for me as a hand spinner. Would love to know the name of the lace stitch pattern used in the samples. Thanks!

  • Jillian,
    Thank you very much for another super helpful article. You are truly the Yarn Detective Extraordinaire!

  • It seems to me that the stitch is English Mesh Lace. See:

    and find the “swatch photos” link further down the page.
    It is a simple, but attractive lace – I agree… ;-))

  • Such a useful article… Thanks!

  • Thanks. Brilliant use of your assistants, especially as they like tiny swatches.

  • How can you tell how tightly twisted the yarn is?

    • Look at the ply angle on the yarn. Holding the yarn vertically, looser is closer to vertical, tight ply closer to horizontal. Try it on some yarns in your stash.

  • Wonderfully detailed explanation. I have never seen worsted vs. woolen spun noted on a ball band. Where would one find this information?

    • Hi Janet,

      Woolen or worsted spun is not usually on the ball band. Sometimes you can find it by looking at the yarn on the maker’s website, sometimes not. I’ve learned the difference from Jillian’s article on it here: https://www.moderndailyknitting.com/2018/01/26/woolen-worsted-mean/

      I’m still not 100 percent accurate when looking at a yarn! We try to include this information for yarns when we know it, and we’re happy to answer the question for any yarns we sell in the MDK Shop.

  • I’m currently knitting socks with Nomade and I can attest that is delightfully springy, cushy, and an overall dream for socks. I love this yarn!
    I’m saving up for an an SQ of Atlas this fall- it will be my fall sweater this year.