Review: Wendy Traditional Aran
Love traditional aran yarns? Amy Kaspar does too …
When I think of traditional, old-school, cabled-wind-and-water-resistant garment knitting, Wendy Traditional Aran is the type of yarn that pops into my head. This yarn is the yarn from which lovely textured jumpers are born, and the fact that it is available so economically is just another bonus.
For the review, I used a ball of Wendy Traditional Aran in color 184 Deep Sea, a pair of size 5.0mm/US8 KnitPro double-pointed needles and a sixteen-inch (40cm) bamboo circular needle, and some Malabrigo Merino Worsted (the maroon yarn) just for fun.
A traditional Aran, as the name would indicate, will traditionally give you 4 to 4.5 stitches per inch when knitted in stocking stitch. This yarn fits that bill beautifully, with quite a bit of heft and sturdiness to it. It also has all of the more peripheral qualities of a 100% wool, 100g ball of goodness: depth in color saturation, visible microbarbs (which means this yarn would felt quite nicely), and a near-but-not-quite perfect twist to the plies. This yarn feels like it was spun with love, even though a machine had a hand in the work.
Wendy (and LoveKnitting) also offers this yarn in a 500g, 770m/842yd ball if the knitter or crocheter were to make a garment with this yarn, and did not want to hassle him or herself with eight smaller balls of yarn. This is a testament to how well this yarn has traditionally done in the hands of knitters; the company recognizes they have a good product, and can offer it conveniently for two different customers.
The pattern I chose looks like crochet but actually is not; I cannot crochet my way out of a paper bag, no matter how hard I try. But since it involves knits, purls, slips, and yarnovers, it is easy to see that the stitch definition is on par with what one would expect from a traditional 100% wool yarn. Cables would pop but still seat properly on the fabric, ribbing would stiffen at rest but be stretchy when needed, and of course the knits and purls present adequately as is.
Since I used almost every inch of yarn, my choice was to either A) block, or B) felt. I went with block. I baptized the rasta hat in cold water, where there was a very slight tinge of blue dye left in the water, so be sure to hand-wash your item by itself before throwing it into a communal tub. I then pinned the brim close together and opened up the ladders. The hat absorbed what felt like a ton of water, which is a great quality for any yarn you need to block; a quicker-than-normal lace project would stay in place after blocking with Wendy Traditional Aran. After the hat was dry, it kept its shape almost perfectly.
Something to keep in mind: because this yarn has a bit of a raw-spun quality to it, you may find teeny bits of undyed coarse fibre or barbs of an unusual size. This, in my opinion, adds to the character, but if you are a smooth yarn person, then it may not be to your liking. On the hands, the yarn feels very woolly, with just the right amount of comforting scratch and warmth that throws you back in time a century or two when knitting with it.
After the item was washed, I wore the hat while dusting my apartment and doing dishes, so about two hours. My head also felt that woolly comfort and warmth, and the yarn retained its memory and did not grow from either the steam of my kitchen sink, or the heat on my forehead and under my hair. Winning!
While this yarn is 100% wool so it would be hand-wash only, the items I conjure in my head with Wendy Traditional Aran are not to be washed frequently anyway. Aran- and Alpine cables, cardies with authority, home decor items, and plenty of top-down yoke colorwork would be perfect for this yarn. Its durability and warmth would also lend itself to great winter accessories, if you need to refresh your current set for the balance of the season. Unless you are making something for a careful mother or father, I would steer clear of making baby garments, or anything else which needs to be washed more frequently.
I mentioned the texture of the yarn; this traditional wool would be excellent for both blocking and felting, so why not try your first lace project on a worsted-weight yarn and see how you like it? And as far as felting and colorwork goes, put those two hands together! Since the yarn is offered in ten traditional colors here, you can make a two-colored bag or pair of slippers and wow your friends with your fancy fabric.
Overall, I was very pleased with Wendy Traditional Aran yarn, as I felt it is precisely the yarn our parents and grandparents reminisce about when they think of the knitting traditions gone by. It does everything wool should do, which is look pretty, keep warm, and last a long time. Not only that, but it feels like wool because it is wool. If you are a natural-fibres knitter, give this one a whirl; you will be engulfed in woolly goodness in no time.
PS…be on the lookout for a how-to on the stitch pattern in the photos.
Last updated: February 13th, 2015.