Review: Imperial Yarn bulky 2-strand
If you love a chunky yarn, knitting with this two strand, lightweight wonder is an experience not to be missed – as Amy discovered…
I admit, I purchased three balls of Imperial Yarn bulky 2-strand as a challenge for myself. I am a death-grip knitter, and I figured there was no way I could use this yarn, but darn-it I was determined. It turns out I was not only able, but I was pleasantly surprised. My apologies that the colour illustrated here is not available; it was all I had in my stash, and I had a lot of it.
For the review, I used three skeins of Imperial Yarn bulky 2-strand in colour 112 Wheat Heather (not available on the LoveKnitting website, but there are almost 20 colours to choose from), and a 150cm/60″ size 9.0mm/US14 circular needle in bamboo.
Imperial Yarn bulky 2-strand is packaged in a twine-like roll, like a birthday cake, and consists of two strands of flat pencil roving wound parallel to each other. The yarn is 100% wool, and while one skein is 100g/200yd, the ball feels weightless in the hands. The strands are delicate, but not as delicate as they initially feel on the hands.
The yarn itself has a strength of its own when it is knitted; if you want to cut the yarn, no scissors necessary. Just give the strands a good tug and they will come apart. If you break the yarn accidentally, have no fear because you can just spit-splice the strands together, and then just keep knitting. The yarn does not readily split, fall apart, become weak in any given spot, or even show inconsistencies. Throughout all 600 yards of yarn (I had maybe ten yards left when I was finished with my poncho), there was not a single knot and there were no strands that came apart on their own.
Despite the strands being flat instead of tubular like most yarns, Imperial Yarn bulky 2-strand has a ton of loft to it. The stitch definition is phenomenal, partly because each stitch holds itself apart from the next strand. Even after three full balls of yarn, despite the bulk of each stitch (my gauge was just under three stitches to the inch, which is almost spot-on to the ball-band suggested gauge), the item was still weightless.
I did accidentally break the yarn twice. Once, I was pulling on a make-one too tightly, and the yarn fizzed apart. On the other occasion, the yarn got caught under my parking brake lever in the car (for the record, I was knitting while parked and not knitting while driving) and it came apart. Throughout the knitting process, I had the yarn ball in my lap, on the table, on the floor, and on the driver’s seat while I sat in the passenger’s seat, and at no time did the tension become enough to break the yarn on its own. This yarn is deceptively strong and quite pleasant to work with, and once stitched, the knitted fabric is even more durable.
In addition to each stitch holding strong, the knitted fabric is as soft as a cloud. The yarn was not scratchy on the hands, and giving the knitted fabric a good squeeze showed just how much air is in each stitch even after it has wrapped around the needle. My increases were all make-ones, both leaning to the left and right, and I did not split or break the yarn by yanking on the small bar between stitches with the knitting needle.
Amazingly, even though the yarn has been through minimal processing to create its finished form in the ball, the dye lots were pretty well undetectable as different. If you look at the finished piece (below), can you believe those are three different dye lots, one after another? If you look at the close-up detail of the yarn, you can see flecks of natural wool and some other microfibres where the dye was saturated; the overall effect is a Renoir-like array of colour that looks blended from far away.
Because it is 100% wool, this yarn is hand-wash only and will need to be laid flat to dry. It is the perfect yarn for fall outerwear items, including oversized cardigans and other outerwear. Hats and mittens would also turn out well in this yarn, as the squish factor would make each stitch generous enough where the person wearing the items would be warm but not overheated. Knitted at a much tighter gauge, perhaps on size 5.5mm-6.0omm needles, this yarn would also work well for home decor items such as cushion covers. Imperial Yarn bulky 2-ply is gorgeous enough for baby items, but it would not be recommended because it cannot be washed. Newer knitters may have a difficult time with this yarn as well, due to its sticky nature and a new knitter’s natural tendency to pull the yarn too tightly. While I did rip out three stitches and had no problems, I feel like the undue tension of ripping out a row or two may have made the yarn too weak to just pick back up.
Imperial Yarn bulky 2-ply is a fun choice for quick knits, and it is deceptively strong in its construction. While the yarn cannot withstand a washing machine without felting, it would hold up beautifully for items which do not need to be washed often. Also, after wearing the poncho for half a day, I did not find any significant pilling from friction. While it looks like a novelty in the ball, it is a true workhorse for bulky garments, outerwear, and winter accessories with an unusual amount of cuddle for 100% wool. Give it a whirl for a scarf, and since it will not take much time, try a hat the next day.
Last updated: October 13th, 2014.