Yarn review: Blacker Yarns, Gotland 4 ply

I almost want to write six different reviews for this yarn, but you’d think I was crazy right? But I have to say the three colours of the wool have subtle differences so you’d need three. Then I’d have to write a review in three different stitches and needle sizes. And I’m only talking about the 4 ply here, there’s other weights!

Depending on how you work his yarn you get different results. I like to spring (not squish) the balls, and smile, knowing the secrets of this amazing stuff.

First, the details

Tasting notes: Magic

This stuff is magic. I mean like “magic trick” magic. One of my new party gags involves using one of my Gotland swatches, (I did a looser knit so you can nearly see through it). I hold it by a corner and “Shake out the heat”, so as to show I have nothing up my sleeve. I ask whoever it is to hold out their hand, backside up. And I gently lay on the swatch. I ask them if they notice the heat, and sure enough after a short time, they can feel the warmth building. And then I exclaim: “It’s EVOLUTION!”

As you can imagine, I’m fun to have at parties.

Just look at the curlie-que fleece on these sheep (see pics at British Gotland Sheep Society). Clearly they evolved to survive a cold climate on the Swedish island where they originated.  Here you can see the long curly locks of the fleece.

Photo by Anna Kika CC BY 2.0

I feel bad because the first time I bought the yarn, I sent it back. I felt it in the ball, stiff and sticky and oddly springy. I hadn’t been enlightened about swatching yet. When I took Deb Robson’s Know Your Wool (free!) course, I felt sad for judging a wool by its ball.

So I bought it again, worked it up. And fell in love. We’ve been happy together ever since.

In the hands – What it feels like to work with it.

I found this yarn challenging at first to work with. I remember thinking it had a crinkly, dry feeling to it. Since coming to our home, I suspect it’s gained some moisture as I don’t notice this sensation any more. It’s also pretty sticky as you work with it. The loops want to stay in place which is handy. But it has no trouble wrapping around itself, and it’s compliant to do what you want.

There isn’t much elasticity as you work with the yarn. I have found myself knitting probably very loose with it even on the needle size I chose.

I’d like to know if the feeling comes from the curly wool or from the worsted spinning, or both?

In the skein – What it looks like, or feels like.

It’s a two ply yarn, and thankfully, Blacker Yarns also tell you how it’s spun – which is worsted in this case.

As I mentioned, if you pull on the yarn itself you won’t notice any elasticity within the yarn itself. But it’s springy in the ball, and when you knit with it, it has very good spring-back. The Dark Gotland is more springy, the Pale Gotland is less springy, and the Mid-Gotland is somewhere in between. To illustrate: I am working from the centre of the Dark Gotland, and the ball is holding its shape.

There are three colours, and there isn’t a strong contrast between the Pale and Mid-Gotland. So for striping I picked the Dark and Pale. Though secretly, I love the texture of the Mid-Gotland most. The garter stitch shows Pale and Dark. The Mid-Gotland is the stockinette swatch.

In the swatch

On the Blacker site, they recommend for 4-ply, on 3mm/US 3, UK 11 needles, you will get 28 sts and 34 rows to a 10cm/4″ square. So for my first swatch, I cast on 30 w a 3 mm needle. It was much bigger than I expected at 7 3/4 inches wide.

Measuring 4″ I’m getting 18 stitches in the Mid-Gotland yarn, so yeah, I knit this up rather loose. I used 3mm needles initially, but tried smaller needles. . I am using 3.25 mm in the garter stripe shawl.

I sense because I’m not knitting to proper tension that this yarn has a whole other persona at a tighter tension.  I should have likely gone for a tighter knit.

I did try 2 other needle sizes for the Dissent shawl and at a small gauge I thought the garter stitch stripes were coming out too stiff for my liking. Of course I didn’t wash the tighter sample, and I may have missed a trick there. Because after you wash it, it takes on a whole different character.

I imagine that for people who balk at BFL, this is going to have a prickle factor. However, I’ve worn this swatch on my chest, and notice no prickle factor. The only thing I notice is that when I remove the swatch, there’s an incredible amount of heat locked in there. This is a warm yarn. Again, the magic factor 🙂

Carrying it around, I have gotten no pills. I noticed that the swatch creases, which I hadn’t seen in other yarns. Meaning, if you fold it, you’ll get a visible crease. But it relaxes soon.

Washing/blocking notes

I soaked in Eucalan for probably an hour or so, and squeezed out the water as usual. I noticed the yarn got SO MUCH SOFTER after washing. The yarn relaxes, and the halo developed more around the surface. It’s softer, fluffier and more drapey.

So while my garter-stitch shawl has a certain sproing to it while I work, I’m betting it’s going to be more fluid after washing. That should be done next week, so I’ll post the results!

Ideas for things to make with it

As I mentioned, I’m making a large striped short row shawl in this. Garter stitch emphasizes the springy nature of the yarn. Whereas stockinette makes a nice drape.

I think knit like this, either with looser tension or on with a larger needle than you’d expect, you’ll notice an even better drape, without it getting loose feeling or cold. I imagine you could make patterns meant for linen yarns, but when you need something warmer.

I’d like to make one of those drapey, boxy drop shoulder jumpers out of it. You could also replace Gotland for patterns which require mohair I think. For example in the Mohair Minimalist top, for layering.

Here are some other examples, and longer sweaters or tunics, which, while not the right tension/gauge, they are sort of what I was picturing.

I also thought it might make a nice knit skirt. Though I think it would need a lining or a slip under it. Then again, I haven’t worn a knit skirt in a long time! But this would be nice, light and still very warm over some tights without being heavy. 

2 thoughts on “Yarn review: Blacker Yarns, Gotland 4 ply”

  1. I'm really loving your in-depth yarn reviews! There's so much about the yarn that you go into that I never would have considered. Looking forward to what you'll share next.

  2. Thank you! I used to just grab whatever I liked, no matter where it came from or what it was made from. I was crocheting small hats, toys or bags, so went for cheap stuff anyway. Now I'm more curious where this magical stuff comes from, and who makes it. I do plan on writing a review a week. Good writing practice too!

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