Thursday, December 05, 2013

Sherwood Slippers: Cascade 220 Held Double (and Why Grist Matters)

Ok, so my first thought when I heard that Cascade 128 (non-superwash) was discontinued: knit some Sherwood Slippers in Cascade 220, held double.

Cascade 128 on top, Cascade 220 on bottom. Before felting.

"Held double" means that you work with two strands of the same yarn as if they were one strand. Some knitters like to use both the inside and outside strands of a center-pull ball. I find that I always get tangled up if I do that, so I wind my yarn into two different balls and go from there. Knitter's choice, of course. 

I knit up the last of the Cascade 128 in red that I had and, using the same instructions, needles, and knitter, made more in purple Cascade 220.

Before felting, the 220 slippers were just a tiny bit longer than their 128 counterparts (maybe 1/4-inch or a little more than half a centimeter.) The width was identical. The 220s weighed a little more, at about 47 g/slipper instead of 40 g/slipper.

Both yarns are 100% wool and I get the same stitch gauge with each. Why is one slipper almost 18% heavier than the other?

1) The thinner yarn, in this case, is spun and plied more tightly than the fatter one. It even says so on the ball band, if you know how to look at it.

Cascade 220: 100 g = > 220 yds (201 meters)
Cascade 128: 100 g = > 128 yds (117 meters)

Gee, I wonder where they get their names. :)

Let's start with one Cascade 128 slipper. It weighs 40 grams, so takes about 51.2 yards of yarn to make. If the Cascade 220 slipper uses the EXACT same yardage for each strand, it takes twice as much = 102.4 yards. 102.4 yards of Cascade 220 should weigh (102.4/220)*100 = about 46.5 grams. I love it when the lab result matches the math.

2) Grist.

Knitters don't think about this much, but what we're looking at is an example of different grist, even though I have the same stitch gauge. Grist is normally given in meters per kilogram or yards per pound, but we could turn it on its head and see how many grams there are per meter of each yarn.

Cascade 220 (doubled):  .995 grams/meter
Cascade 128 (single): .855 grams/meter

So, a project using the same yardage in each yarn will weigh more in Cascade 220 (held double) than it will in Cascade 128 (held single).

Which also means:

- When subbing yarns, ALWAYS use length measurements, not weight, to determine how much yarn you need!

- A pair of Woman's Medium Sherwood Slippers can be made with just one skein of Cascade 220, held double, with about 15 yards left over (whew).

- Cascade 220 slippers might hold up better than the Cascade 128 slippers, based on my somewhat unscientific idea that a slipper that uses more wool takes longer to wear out. The scientific way to say it is that the tighter twist and more plies involved in the Cascade 220 make the fibers of the yarn less subject to abrasion, but who can say for sure until the sole hits the floor?

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