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Mama, wife, knitter, blogger, spinner, wannabe something or other. That's enough, right?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Yarn Review #1: Cascade 220 (Heathers, Wool, Paints, & Quatros)

I've been participating in Year of Projects for a little over a year now.

I've also been participating in WIP Wednesdays and FO Fridays when I can.

I've been knitting.

I've been designing.

And, most of all, I've been blogging.

That's all great and wonderful but it's time for me to (attempt to) do more with my blog. So one of the new "features" of my blog will be Yarn Reviews. The intention is that once a month, roughly about mid-month (depending on the day - Year of Projects are on Sundays, WIP Wednesdays are on Wednesdays, and FO Fridays are on Fridays so rarely will you see a Yarn Review on those days), I'll do a yarn review, which may or may not include multiple types of the same yarn or multiple different yarns on the same day. The yarns in question, unless specified, are coming from my stash, purchased by me, for me, and for my use. I've been given no money or other non-monetary gifts for these yarn reviews. The reviews are of my opinion and do not necessarily coincide with other fiber enthusiasts, though they may.

Yes, that's my disclaimer notice (for now).

Today, I've picked a "workhorse" yarn to review so let's get to it.

Cascade 220

1. Information about the company: From what I've gathered from the Cascade Yarn Facebook page, they are a family-owned company (est. 1987, from what I've found). Their official website is here. From reading about a visit to Cascade Yarn posted by Cat Stolzenbach (via Craftsy), the owners are Rob and Shannon Dunbabin and they are located in Tukwila, WA (a suburb just south of Seattle). Other than that, I've found very little and my Googlefu is failing me miserably.

2. Other Yarns Offered: can be viewed here because, quite honestly, the list is quite long. The list also includes the yarn(s) I will review. According to Ravelry, there are 132 different types of yarn listed for Cascade Yarns, though the website has only 79 listed.

3. Information about the Yarn  (the specific yarn(s) I'm reviewing):
     - Official Name: Cascade 220 (which encompasses 220 Heathers, 220 Wool, 220 Paints, 220 Quatros)
     - Fiber Content: 100% Peruvian Highland Wool
     - Skein Weight & Yardage: 100 grams / 220 yards
     - Guage: 4.5 stitches = 1" on US #8/5mm or 5 stitches = 1" on US #7/4.5mm
     - Weight: Worsted
     - Wash: handwash cold, lay flat to dry, no bleach
     - Where to Purcahse: From the map on the Cascade Yarn Website, it looks like it's only available in the United States (as far as being sold in yarn shops) but you can order it online from various places including (but not limited to) WEBS, Jimmy Beans Wool, and The Loopy Ewe. I am unsure about other distributions worldwide. Also, you can also stalk the stashes of others on Ravelry :)

4. Review:
     - Pros: In the case of Cascade 220 Heathers, 220 Wool, 220 Paints, and 220 Quatros the pros are numerous. 
               1. 220 Wool comes in a vast array of colors, including some tweed combinations. The 220 Heathers also comes in several colors, though nowhere near the amount that the 220 Wool does. The 220 Paints gives you some variegation and multi-colors and the 220 Quatros are like tweed but without the solid neutral (so think two shades of pink or a pink & purple combination). 
               2. If you're looking for an item that you can felt, Cascade 220 works wonderfully in the felting department. I have not felted it myself but I have seen the results of Cascade 220 being felted. The results are even and lovely. 
               3. I've used it for a few projects and it knits up evenly, blocks very well, and is warm without being too bulky. It is spun tightly enough that you're not showered with bits and bobs of fluff, which is always nice. It also means that your finished object isn't going to leave wooly presents on your clothing or otherwise attired appendage(s). 
               4. The yarn is difficult to break so if you're a tight knitter (as many new knitters tend to be), you don't have to worry about this yarn breaking while you're strangling it for dear life...and if you do, you can always spit-splice it back together because, as I said before, it felts beautifully! It's a basic "workhorse" yarn. Translation: it's a durable yarn.
               5. It's inexpensive. It retails for around $9/skein. I can get a hat and two pairs of fingerless mitts or a long scarf out of two skeins (440 yds, ~ $18).
               6. Softens after blocking but isn't that "itchy" feeling that many associate with 100% wool.
               7. If you're in the United States, it's available in almost every yarn shop (or one nearby) and can easily be ordered online.

     - Cons: There isn't much I can say in the "con" department about Cascade 220. 
               1. If you're looking for something that you want to be able to throw in the washer/dryer, this wouldn't be a yarn for you (but Cascade 220 also comes in Superwash!). 
               2. Occasionally, you'll find a knot in the yarn but I've used several skeins of Cascade 220 over the last four years and I think I've only found two knots and they weren't in the same skein (or for the same project)...and you can just spit-splice them together anyway.
               3. Occasionally you'll find that the yarn didn't always soak up the dye properly and you'll (very rarely) wind up with lighter or even white spots. I've not had this happen but I have seen it on some projects (though you really have to look as it's only a short little area). It's yarn. It has character. And it's not going to always be perfect. 
               4. Also, and this isn't so much of a "con" as a "use common sense": dyelots match but the colors don't...wait, that doesn't sound right. What I mean is that if you're going to make a sweater, make sure you have enough of the same dyelot because if you come back later and try to get the same color with a different dyelot, chances are that they're not going to be a perfect match and may, in fact, be so different that you'll notice either with the skeins or the finished object itself. So, make sure you buy the same dyelot (but really, that goes for all yarn that comes in dyelots). 
              5. It's a workhorse yarn but it isn't good for gifts (unless your giftee is receptive to the fact that they'll have to handwash items made from these yarns) - horrible for baby gifts because you can't just throw it in the washer/dryer (stick to 220 Superwash for that!). 

That's all I have for you today!  I should be back on Friday for a FO Friday (featuring the yarn just reviewed, funnily enough) and maybe I'll pop in for a WIP Wednesday but, then again, maybe not. We shall see.


  1. I like that you are doing this. I found it to be very interesting. Cascade 220 is my go to yarn for all of the pro reasons you listed. 220 and I have been kind of exclusive, though, for far too long. That's why I am looking forward to your reviews of other yarns. I might even step out on 220 a time or two.

  2. Love love love the review. Cascade 220 is one of my favorites as well. It's the first non-lion brand yarn that I bought, which I used in Knitty's wavy scarf. There's a warm spot in my heart for Cascade 220.

    I love Cascade's whole range of yarns, of late my new favorite is the Venezia which has a little bit of silk in it for extra sheen. The sport weight is perfect for hats.

    1. That's something I like, too. I have a love of Pima Cotton but also the sock yarns :)

  3. I love this new feature! I can't wait to see which other yarns you're going to review. There was a ton of information here, and I learned a lot.

  4. It's good that you're doing this b/c you're so in depth and I know keppin' it real. Haven't used these Cascade 220s as I usually use the super wash skeins.

  5. H. Would you say that this wool isn't itchy AT ALL? I am quite sensitive to itchy yarns! Thanks

    1. I would say that it could be itchy. If you're sensitive to itchy things, I would consider avoiding it. However, if you're looking to make something that's not going to be close to the body (like a felted bag or a toy), then it's fine...but it may drive you nuts working with it.

  6. I enjoyed your review of the Cascade yarns. I am part-owner of our LYS in Irvington, VA and Cascade yarn is very popular with our customers - especially 220 Superwash. Many use it for their grandchildren because a it goes in the dryer so successfully. I haven't found many worsted weight yarns that work in the dryer. But recently some of our customers have asked us about Cascade's decision to stop their production of yarn in Peru and move it all to China. I am wonder, does anyone know the reason for this decision?

    1. You know, I haven't heard anything about that but, honestly, I don't keep up with all the gossip like I, perhaps, should. I have a friend that knows more than I do....perhaps I'll tap her about it. She might know something.