Monday, June 18, 2007

Review: South West Trading Company’s Bamboo

Fiber content: 100% Bamboo

1 Ball Contains: 100g, 250 yds (228.6m)

Price: Mine was in a swap, but it retails for $11.50 to $14.00 American, around the same in Canada.

Label’s Gauge and Needle Size: 5 sts and 8 rows = 1″ st st on US6 (4mm) needles. Nothing listed for crochet.

My Gauge, Pre-Wash: 7 sts and 7 rows = 1″ st st. 27.5 sts and 32 rows = 4″ st st (this is why you should never trust what your gauge is for 1 inch. It’s never right.) In crochet, I used a 5.5mm hook (US I hook), and got 13 sts and 18 rows = 4″

Post-Wash: No change.

Colour Range: 36, according to their Website.

Washing Instructions: Hand wash preferable. As a note, I’ve read that it is not a good idea to put something made with bamboo yarn in the dryer. Since I don’t own my dryer, I didn’t test it, I let it dry flat.

This is the other ball of yarn that I received in a swap with Stitch-ay Woman. I was excited about this one, actually, but decided to save it and use Calmer first. I’ve been wanting to try bamboo yarn for months, but didn’t have the opportunity. I kept hearing about how great it was, how durable, how beautiful, how soft.

This first one, above, is with 6US needles. The colour, Plum, is beautiful, and makes a lovely fabric, even though I prefer it knit with larger needles. But it felt so rough. I can’t imagine wearing a shirt made out of this, unless it’s meant to go on over something and not touch the skin. Even after hand washing, it was still rough. So, I went up two needle sizes and tried it again.

I got the idea from looking through Stitch and Bitch Nation. There’s a tank/vest in there called Accidentally On Purpose, which is basically a drop-stitch pattern, something like the above. It’s not only great on top of another layer, it’s *meant* to be on top of a layer, unless you’re feeling a little risqué. It’s still rough, but not as rough as the first swatch. I think it'd also be good for making the Network hat in No Sheep for You.

The crochet swatch gave me another idea. Bamboo is durable, and there doesn’t seem to be much stretch to it. It would make a great handbag. Even in plain sc, it looks great. With the wide range of colours, you could do stripes, or a pattern in another colour, like a skull, heart, star, whatever. I think the spike stitch would look neat, but that just occurred to me, so I need to test it with another colour/yarn.

If anyone has knit or crocheted something in this yarn and didn’t find it rough at all, please, let me know! I want to be wrong about this. And for the record, I’m not giving up on bamboo yet. There are other brands to try, and there’s a brand called Crystal Palace Panda Cotton that sells a sock yarn with bamboo and cotton content. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m hoping the cotton makes it softer.


Anonymous said...

I'm making socks out of the Panda Cotton and I looove it. Very soft and shiny, although a bit splitty. It recommends sizes 1-2.5 needles; I found size 1 US a bit tight and made my wrists hurt (I have wimpy wrists I'll admit), but my 2s are just fine. I think it's a pretty reasonable price, too ( and have it for $6.75). Actually I'm thinking about destashing a couple pairs of skeins on my blog soon.

catnurse said...

I have used Madil Eden for several projects (summer sweater, chemo hat). I found it at my LYS for $6.95 per 100m ball. The colors are gorgeous, yarn is super silky and very drapey. My sweater was knit cuff to cuff with size 11 US, meant to be worn over a tank top. I forget what needles I used for the hat, but it was your basic knit in the round, rolled brim hat for a friend in Texas - it turned out fine, not very stretchy, but so soft! The yarn was a bit splitty, but once I got used to it, it was fine. I have a few balls left in my stash, so I'll be making another summer sweater (Soleil from on a size 7US needle. Too bad it's a gift for my sister, I'd love it for myself!

Jocelyn said...

I made a twinset with the "old" SWTC Bamboo last summer. It had a dark label. It was rough to knit with, but it does soften up with wear. The yarn has been reformulated - I got a skein of the "new" bamboo from SWTC at Stitches West. It's not my color, so I haven't worked with it yet, but it does seem a lot softer. A very soft bamboo is called Bamboo Soft from Rowan. It's new the season and *very* soft and drapey.

Stitch-ay Woman said...

Another really good review! Clara Parkes, watch out!
I made the Moebius capelet from VK Spring/Summer 2006 out of this yarn (you got my leftover ball). I actually didn't think it was rough, but this is not the smoothest bamboo on the market, certainly. Because it is a capelet, it is worn over something the friend that I knit it for (my body is not really capelet-friendly but my friend is a sylph). I didn't mind the feel when I was knitting with it at all.
At lot of the feel is due to the construction of the yarn, which is kind of like a little knit tube. Nice thing about this construction is that, when it snags, it heals itself pretty quickly.
If you want to experience the softest 100% bamboo ever, try the Be Sweet. Expensive and splitty as hell but worth it for the result, I think.
The Panda Cotton splits like crazy too, but that's pretty unavoidable when you have a yarn plied entirely out of fibers without "teeth". I am a big fan of the Panda Cotton despite the splitting, because the fabric it makes is awesome. It's actually cool to the touch!