Mohonk: What Makes a Yarn Cozy?
Mohonk, from Jill Draper Makes Stuff, is the knitting equivalent of still-warm homemade chocolate chip cookies: simple and just right. Yes, I am still baking.
Like the recipe for your most perfect cookies, Mohonk is tried and true, with basic, but well chosen—even secret—ingredients.
Everyone has a little something, an ingredient twist, that makes their chocolate chip cookie theirs. Everyone’s cookies taste a little different, but in the end are delicious. They make people happy, just like yarn.
For the record, my cookie difference-makers are dark brown sugar, dark chocolate chips, and sea salt. I use the Nestle’s recipe because I have it memorized.
Jill combines terrific ingredients, treated in a specific way, to make Mohonk an easy to love yarn.
Mohonk: Vital Statistics
Fiber: 100% lamb’s wool
Weight: Sport Weight
Quantity: 370yds/338m; 4oz/113 g
Drafting style: Woolen spun
Gauge: 5.5-6sts/in on US#3-5 needles 3.25-3.75mm
Mohonk is made from 100% lamb’s wool. This means it’s from an animal that is less than a year old, so it’s literally baby soft.
Jill combines fibers from several small flocks, bought directly from farmers, all fine wool breeds: Cormo, Targhee, Rambouillet. They all have similar fineness, staple length and crimp.
The mill lightly scours the fiber before spinning, and doesn’t use harsh chemicals. So you might find a little hay here and there, and you will certainly feel a bit of lanolin in the yarn. This keeps the yarn soft, as harsh chemicals can strip all of the lanolin, making yarn feel dry or even crunchy. The lanolin also enhances durability; over-scoured yarn can be fragile.
Mohonk is a 2-ply yarn, spun woolen. The two plies roll away from each other, making knitted stitches look likes they are a doing a little shimmy. They don’t line up as neatly as a 3-ply yarn would. The woolen spin makes the yarn lofty, a little fuzzy, light and warm, and oh so squishy. You know it’s going to be soft before you touch it.
Because of its woolen spin (and touch of lanolin), Mohonk is a great gauge shifter. I was very happy with the label’s recommended gauge of 5.5 stitches to the inch (on the top of the swatch pictured above), and would also knit it, for a sweater, at a looser gauge. I like 4.5 stitches to the inch (on the bottom of the swatch).
Here’s something I neglected to mention in my woolen and worsted post: Woolen-spun yarns may change when blocked.
Look at the two swatches above; the blocked swatch is on the left, unblocked on the right. There’s a difference between the two; not huge, but noticeable.
The fabric is tidier after blocking, and the yarn blooms, tightening up the stitches. I measured a difference of a little less than a quarter of a stitch to the inch between blocked and unblocked, with the gauge getting tighter—more stitches per inch—not looser as one might expect. With smaller needles, I measured 5.35 (ish) stitches to the inch before blocking, and after blocking 5.5 stitches to the inch. I did not pin my swatches, I just just patted them flat and left them to dry. Make sure to wet block your woolen-spun swatches, as both the appearance and the gauge may change a bit.
Mohonk is 92 yards to an ounce. A plain vanilla pullover for me with ease (XL-ish) takes about 1,350 yards, and weighs 14.5 ounces. I call any sweater for me that weighs under a pound a weight-win.
In the MDK Shop
Clearly I’m having a flashback to my days of ’90s knitting. The stitch patterns I picked for Mohonk were all hot then. I knit all these swatches with the needle that gave me 5.5 stitches to the inch in stockinette, then I wet blocked them.
Feather and fan! I knit an afghan and several baby blankets using feather and fan. It is a chocolate chip cookie of a stitch pattern: so good, and you can’t stop at one.
Mohonk shows off the stitch pattern beautifully. The lace holes stay open (because it’s 2-ply), and the garter ridge is good and puffy (thanks to the woolen spin). I really like how it looks, but it’s missing something that you might want in a lace project: drape.
Woolen yarns don’t drape well. You get the cozy, but lose the slinky.
Honeycomb was my ’90s go-to cable stitch. Hats, scarves, sweaters—I knit them all encrusted with honeycomb. I blame Rowan.
The very thing that makes Mohonk not drape so well makes it a superior 2-ply for texture. The openness of a woolen yarn creates stitches that hold on to each other; the fuzzy bits lock together. The lofty spin holds the stitches without weighing them down. This gives structure to stitches that you wouldn’t find with a worsted-spun 2-ply yarn.
The stitch definition isn’t as crisp as a 3-ply yarn, but there is plenty stitch definition for my taste.
I don’t remember the last time I was moved to knit two-color slip stitch, and I forgot how satisfying it is. I would like to bring it back to my knitting.
A woolen-spun yarn is great for colorwork. The yarns hold on and snuggle up. It gives softer transitions between colors, which I like. This stitch pattern has the bonus of texture: the garter bits really pop because of the loft in the yarn.
This little swatch has me thinking of big things.
Now I want cookies.