Fly Designs Wooly Singles – A Review

I know I have been absent for a while and my excuse: we have been working on updating the site and the blog.  Sadly, our work is still not done.  And I noticed that for some reason comments for the last post was deleted magically by the system – I have no idea how – and I could not recover them.  My sincere apologies for those of you who posted comments.  Please post again; I will make sure your comments are published.

And, now to a much juicier topic, Fly Designs Wooly Singles.  You might have noticed, Winter Knitty is up anblog5blog3d Ann Weaver of Weaver Designs has a new jacket pattern, Everybody Knows.  I love the easy construction of this jacket and the way it is fitted.    My favorite part of the design is the fact that the jacket has a futuristic look with a softly fitted body.  Everybody Knows makes me want to knit one for myself, wear it while riding a Ducati to meet my Klingon friends all at the same time (note I am running a 103 degree fever as I type this so I hope the last sentence makes sense – it sure makes sense to me).

I also like the fact that Ann’s pattern uses Fly Designs’ Wooly Singles, a fine single ply wool with a rustic look.  My personal experience with this yarn is such that I can wear it next to my skin but it is not a super soft fiber, at least not at first.  If I were to compare this yarn to a similar hand-dyed product I would say that it is something between Manos del Uruguay only softer and Malabrigo’s worsted weight merino only a little more rustic and slightly heavier.  Wooly Singles can be used for jackets, sweaters, cardigans, accessories and if one would like to do so, for felting.

With every new yarn I try to request a review from one our friends and this time was no different.  This is what Samantha has to say about Wooly Singles:

I am a huge fan of Fly Designs. From their sock yarns to the Flying Sheep it is all beautifully hand-dyed in colors ranging from dreamy soft to brash and wild. And most of their yarns come in fat, generous hanks just begging to be turned into whatever design your imagination can conjure up. What’s not to love? And now, there’s a new kid in the Fly Designs family, Wooly Singles.

teal2bAccording to its label Wooly Singles is a “single ply fine count wool” and comes in big half pound skeins with 520 yards. In the hank, the strands appeared broad and flat with very little twist reminding me a little of a wrapped cotton I have used for summer knitting. The yarn is not at all scratchy but it did not feel particularly cushy-soft either. On the other hand, the fiber does get softer and cuddlier with blocking, washing and use.

I wound my hank of Wooly Singles it into an enormous cake and decided to try it out with a baby jacket. I love the homespun look of baby items made in a heavielilacbr yarn and the soft lavenders and palest blue of the colorway I was given made the choice an easy one.  I worked the jacket on aluminum size 8 straight needles knitting from the top down in the round. The body of the jacket and the sleeves are stockinette so I could see how the colors played out and the yoke had a bit of pattern to it so I could judge elasticity and stitch definition. With size 8 needles I got 4.5 stitches and 6.5 rows to the inch in stockinette stitch.

My first impression, given that I was beginning with the patterned yoke, was that Wooly Singles worked okay on size 8 needles but would probably be happier on size 9 or even 10. I tested this theory later with a few swatches and found that the 10’s led to the most comfortable knitting and nicest finished product.  The yarn knits up much more smoothly than its appearance in the hank would suggest. I expected it to look slightly like a thick-n-thin yarn but it does not. Even with a single ply with little twist the good folks at Fly Designs have managed to make a consistent yarn that makes a lovely finished product.

blog1Plain stockinette stitch shows even the slightest imperfections in the yarn and I never found a one. The patterned area of the jacket shows up nicely with clear definition and the eyelets at neck and hem were opened up perfectly even before blocking. This is a fairly rugged yarn and I don’t think it would be ideal for lacy patterns but I could easily see it with twists, cables, and knit-purl patterns. A moss stitch would likely play up Wooly Singles’ ruggedness nicely.

Fly Designs’ color work on the yarn impressed me hugely. It is hard to pull off multiple colors in a hank even if they are all a shade or two apart from one another. Things can get muddy and colors can pool when knitted. I knit blog2Wooly Singles in four different needles sizes and every finished piece had excellent color distribution with absolutely no pooling. I wondered if the sleeves of the jacket would look vastly different from the body given that they were worked over a little more than a third of the stitches for the body but it looks just fine. When I looked closely I saw that the sleeves looked a little more striped than the rest of the garment but it is subtle and the overall look is harmonious.

swampbI do think that Fly Designs has another hit on their hands. I would probably treat Wooly Singles like a chunky yarn if I were to knit with it again and I’d love to see a warm, wooly sweater out of it – you know, the kind you put on and just sink right into when it’s blustery outside. It’s definitely not a delicate flower of a yarn, but it’s beautiful and behaves nicely on the right size needles. Those of you who like your yarn with a little more heft are going to fall head-over-heels for this.

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