Wovember Words: Breed swatch-along – the feel of the fabric

Louise is back with more woolly words as described by participants in the #breedswatchalong.

Last time I shared with you some of the words and phrases used by knitters to describe the feel of the ball of yarn as they approached the crafting of their swatch. After casting on and noting observances of the feel and over the creation of the swatch, the next step is the wash, block and wear test.

For my own swatches it has been interesting taking just a little bit notice of the washing process; how much grease, if any, escapes? How the wool swatch reacts – some tighten and firm in the water, denser wool takes longer to sink, softer, drapier wool gets deliciously languid.

After blocking I think it is really important to wear the dry swatch somewhere on your person to check a) how the wool fabric feels against the skin and b) does the fabric change from being rubbed against another fabric. The wear test has been the topic of much hilarity over in the KnitBritish Ravelry group as SAL participants try to find an appropriate place to wear their swatch. I go for the up the sleeve placement, but some of the larger swatches contributed to a Popeye look for some of the swatchers! We carry out at least two wash, block and wear tests because the breed swatch-along is also about exploring how the wool fabric changes over time.

| How did the knitted swatch feel against your skin?

JessieMcKitrick’s Lincoln longwool swatch:

While it’s softer than I would expect for what I had read of Lincoln, it is definitely not baby-soft. I wore this swatch for a whole day inside the arm of my woollen sweater. I was aware of the different texture against my skin and could feel it very slightly itchy.

LINCOLN Jessie McKitrick Canada


BlitheSpirit’s Norfolk Horn swatch:

No real visible sign of blooming. I wore the swatch against my hip for about six hours including a two mile walk. I mostly forgot it was there. No itchy factor at all and no reaction to bare skin.

NORFOLK HORN Blithe Spirit

JaneyD’s Jacob Swatch:

First test: Wore this swatch under my t shirt all morning and forgot it was there  -am used to wearing wool though!

Second test: Softened again to a pleasing texture, few hempy fibres sticking out but no piling at all.


Verveine’s Coburger Fusschaff swatch:

Felt not scratchy at all, worn against the inside of my arm, no irritations. Fabric warms up very quickly.

verveine's COBURG

JessieMcKitrick’s Manx Loaghtan swatch:

First test: Pinned it to the inside of my sleeve; a bit more prickly here, and I noticed it occasionally, but it was mostly fine.

Second Test: Wore it inside my sock most of the day, where I pretty much forgot about it. I do find that it doesn’t take much for me to find a sock too itchy to wear, so the Manx Loaghtan passed that particular test with flying colours!

MANX Jessie McKitrick

Leira’s Suffolk swatch:

I wore the swatch under my shirt at the shoulder, tucked into my bra strap! There was a distinct little prickle that did not subside. It was not itchy, but I was aware of it all the time the swatch was worn. There is no sign of pil or felting. The swatch has remained the same.

suffolk LS

A few mentions of a ‘prickle’ in the descriptions and, of course, there is a prickle factor where wool and knitted fabric is concerned. Where finer fibres can bend, larger diametre fibres do not and they press into the skin and cause the receptors in the skin to become activated – hence the slight irritation.  Of course some of us have more sensitive skin than others and even fine fibres can prickle whereas some of us have skin that likes even the woolliest of wools.