One of my favorite things about what I do is to feel and discover the texture of new fibers that keep my knit and crochet creations fun year round. Because, let's face it... carrying around a bag of Peruvian bulky wool in 90 degree summer heat is not always fun (though I do it gladly). So with that in mind, and having always wanted to also serve my beach loving self, I have made an intentional effort to discover and learn more about cotton.
I love that cotton has such a rich history as a fiber and that there are almost endless options to what can be done with it. For me, it is about finding the right cotton for the piece I am designing and making. The right weight, texture and drape matter because not all cottons are created equal. In doing the research to find the perfect cotton for my projects I tested, swatched and sampled so many variations that I narrowed it down to a few that work best for my projects to achieve the look and feel I was going for.
First up is Wool & The Gang Shiny Happy Cotton. I know I should not have "faves" and try to be open minded, but this is definitely my fave cotton. Period. You guys... I want to make all the things with it. It is called and literally IS SHINY HAPPY COTTON! It has such a sheen and great texture no matter what stitch I work up. The ply is spun so well that it gets great stitch definition. It is fabulous for knit or crochet. ANd it doesn't mind when I make mistakes or change my mind and have to frog it a dozen times. It is very forgiving in that way and maintains structure every time. That is amazing!!!!!
Why do I love it? Not only for the previously mentioned reasons but because also I just love Wool & The Gang. They get it. They get me. Their brand speaks to me and they keep putting out products and fibers that make me want to keep knitting and keep crocheting. That relationship of inspiring me the more I make with it has power! Trust m, ,when you get your hands on the cotton magnificence you too will fall in love with it!
But there are also many more Cottons I love and are worthy of your stitches...
Starting with Universal Cotton Supreme & Cotton Supreme Batik. Oh yes this is DIVINE! Another thicker of the cottons, this category 4 worsted weight cotton has an incredibly tight twist to the fiber it works up so nicely and is so buttery soft. It handles that wash and wear life extremely well too.
I used it for my Mammoth Poncho AND Montgomery Sweater last fall and yes - I practically in both of them because they are so comfy in this fiber. I love this fiber to work with and to wear and am already working up a few summer delights with it.
The Batik self stripes wonderfully and the colors compliment the solids of Cotton Supreme perfectly.
A thinner but nice DK Weight cotton is the Pima Cotton by We Are Knitters. It works up lovely but I think it is more of a sport weight (though they list it as DK). I have made several items with it and it holds stitch definition quite well. I went down a hook size from the recommended 5 mm to get more structure for the piece I was making and was quite pleased.
In this same category and also the same texture and weight is the Betta Knit Pima Cotton. I did a little test working both up into my Helix Puff Stitch Summer Festival Beanie and they were nearly identical! SO hard to tell apart from look or feel or drape. So really for this reason I say it comes down to what color you like and who ships to you fastest :-)
Another in this same class is Debbie Bliss Cotton DK. While I did not include it in this hat test, it is also closer to a sport weight and works up just as lovely as the We Are Knitters and Betta Knit Cottons. The real difference for me here is color and price. I found Debbie Bliss to offer lots of fun summer pastels and vibrant color options and to be way more affordable at about $6 USD per ball. For the purpose of the projects I was working on (my Saratoga Shrug & Mallory Tank) I could have easily swapped out any of these three and the gauge and project would be just the same.
Another great cotton "discovery" is Paintbox Yarns cottons. These are such fun cottons and a more true DK weight I find. I also love that they come in small 50 gram balls so I was able to control my order to get just what I needed without necessary stash building. I got a great rainbow assortment to make a rainbow top for summer festivals. They have neutrals and gray scale as well but it is the brights that caught my eye. It works up true to weight and feels great. It is fun to try to juggle with too.
Now, if you read this blog often or follow me on social media then you know I love random yarn discoveries from the maker community. And I love supporting fellow small business owners and makers. Two of those awesome things happened this year converging upon COTTON AWESOME!!!!
First is Knit Loop who I discovered when my dear Instagram friend Melanie began showing their fibers in her feed. At once I knew I had to get my hands on this so I reached out to them and was so excite dto find this is in fact a small business run by a lovely gal Tamara.
First I tried the wool. It is DROOL-WORTHY and will get it's own post soon. Then I tried the cotton and it is AMAZING! It is vibrant and a good worsted weight fiber. I like the feel of it - it somehow has an almost alpaca-ish softness without being a blend at all. Very cool ply and spin on the fiber. She offers such a fantastic palette of colors too. And... like I said, it is a small business owned by a woman so you know that is a WIN right there. But man, I do love this fiber.
Next up is Northside Knit Co. What a hidden gem they were to discover at Vogue Knitting Live with my friend Chantal. On one of our late night knit sessions she had this cotton that was simply insane. The color was incredible but the feel of this for a chunky cotton was actually something I have not felt before. They dye it naturally and I was won over instantly! So the next morning Chantal and I met up to visit the gals of Northside Knit Co. and I grabbed up a bunch of this incredibly lovely BULKY Cotton!!! I cannot suggest to you enough to check these gals out.
For more outdoors and beachy wear ...
A fabulous mercerized cotton I use for summer cover ups, beach totes, market bags and all things outdoor-ish is the Lion Brand 24/7 Cotton. Now this is a heavily mercerized cotton which of course means it is ideal for those beach items but less ideal for a lighter tank top because the process of mercerizing changes the composition of the fiber. That should not deter you at all. Just keep in mind it is different in texture.
Some more fun cottons I love and with great purpose:
Betta Knit Fettuccine Cotton is a great tape like fiber that is superb for baskets, home decor and even wall hangings! I made their Alto Basket with it and not only did I love it but so did my customers. It sold out within 6 months!
Another great cotton for home decor items is Wool & The Gang Jersey Be Good. This is 98% cotton and a little tubular which is both cool and takes a minute to get used to. Ideal for baskets and home items for sure.
I also started exploring Cotton Blends this year and the Bamboo Pop from Universal Yarn works up great for summer projects and lightweight garments. It is 52% bamboo and 48% cotton and great for tank tops, beach cover ups and lots of things with fringe. Lol. it makes GREAT fringe.
Another blend I tried was Premier Yarns Cotton Fair. This is an acrylic / cotton blend and I loved it for baby items and mini baby socks and mini baby hats and all mini baby things lol. Washer friendly which is also nice.
So there you have it. My 2018 Guide to Cotton!!! And check out all my summer cotton patterns here. Do you have a favorite cotton? Let me know in the comments and I will check it out!!! And watch my Cotton episode on our new channel here...