Thursday, March 22, 2007

Longmeadow by Valley Yarns

  • 60% cotton 40% microfiber
  • Made in Peru exclusively for Valley Yarns
  • 50g balls --- 117 yards per ball
  • suggested gauge - 5.5 stitches per inch
  • price: US$3.49 available in 25 colors

The days lengthen, the air is softer, and thoughts turn to lighter, lacier garments for warmer weather. There are plenty of glitzy, ritzy or just plain ditsy novelty yarns out there, but everyone needs some good, solid yarn basics in their repertoire. Cotton Classic by Tahki has long been a favorite of mine, but all-cotton garments can get heavy in anything but the tiniest of sizes, so I've been searching for a lighter, blended yarn.

Longmeadow is a house brand from the folks at Webs . The 60/40 cotton/microfiber blend was appealing, so I took some out for a spin.

The recommended gauge of 5.5 spi (stitches per inch) puts Longmeadow in the sportweight category. It consists of 3 strands of (somewhat) loosely plied yarn. Because of the looseness of those plys, it can be splitty -- it wasn't a huge problem in my crochet project, but I did notice it. It's quite soft, and has a 'cottony' feel -- puffy, with just a tiny hint of fuzz. My first thought was that it would be a great yarn for babies/children's wear -- and then I noticed the care symbols on the label. HAND WASH -- DO NOT TUMBLE DRY This takes it right out of consideration for kids wear, and frankly, just how many of us want to hand wash warm weather clothes for anyone? Too bad, I've enjoyed working with it -- just how did I miss that little fact when I ordered the yarn?

I decided it might be worth testing it though, so I made a crochet swatch, measured it and sent it through my front loader's light wash setting (warm water). It looked pretty good coming out, so I threw caution to the wind and tossed it in the dryer too. Results? Minimal shrinkage (less than 1/4 inch in each direction for a 7x6 swatch) and no visible pilling. I was using white yarn, so I don't know if there would be any color loss. Now, my swatch wasn't huge, and my treatment of it was on the gentle side, plus I only sent it through one cycle, but I think it might be safe to upgrade the care of this yarn from hand wash to machine wash - gentle. I still would avoid it for heavy use, heavily laundered kids wear, but I'll probably use it again for a summer tank top for myself. Disclaimer: These were my results, but please do your own testing of swatch before committing your time and effort to a project! Naturally, I'll be using my 'after laundering' swatch to calculate my gauge.

In short, I found it to be a pleasant yarn to work with, available at a reasonable price in a range of colors that appeal to me. The laundry issue may loom large for many knitters/crocheters though, so proceed with caution. As always, your mileage may vary.


Marjorie Lyon said...

Glad to read of your experience with Longmeadow. I'm in the middle of a white sweater for myself with Longmeadow. I would have used KnitPicks Shine Sport, but it doesn't come in white. I like the feel and weight of Longmeadow but it does split. I'm using the snowflake eyelet stitch pattern from Barbara Walker's second treasury, and have to be careful to avoid splits. Otherwise, I'm fairly happy with the yarn, but will go back to Shine Sport for my "go to" yarn for summer.

Karen said...

Marjorie -- thanks for adding your experience with Longmeadow. At some point I'll have to try some of the KnitPicks 'own label' yarns, as I'm always looking for good quality yarns at affordable prices.

Jude said...

I was listening to Cast-On today and Amy Singer was talking about using Calmer from Rowan as a sub for wool (from her new book "No Sheep for Ewe"). It is a cotton/poly blend. The only problem is it is 11.50/ball. Ouch!! I may have to try the Longmeadow and the Shine Sport. they are much more affordable. I'd love to know how the yarn holds up through use.

Karen said...

That Calmer is lovely stuff though, Jude! I'm interested in how well the Longmeadow will hold up (and specifically to gentle machine washing) too -- since I plan on ordering more for a summer tank top. I guess I'll just have to post an update later on.

Jude said...

I'll be waiting to hear what you think of it after a month or so of wash and wear.