Rachael, known as Telfordswife on Ravelry, is one of my go to testers and one of my all around favorite internet friends. She knits exclusively in non animal fiber due to severe allergies and she has the most beautiful finished projects. Her Juxtaposition Shrug is a stunning neutral wardrobe foundation! She was kind enough to offer some thoughts and answers to questions I had about knitting with non wool yarn and I wanted to share it with all of you. xoxo
What fibers are you allergic to?
All animal fibers are problematic for me, and that includes silk (it comes from silk worm cocoons). Silk is actually the worst for me, I get raised welts.
What fibers can you work with? What about natural fibers like, silk, linen, and cotton?
I can work with plant-based and man made fibers. Acrylic, nylon, cotton, linen, rayon, etc .
Do you have a favorite yarn weight or dyer?
I am a sucker for worsted weight yarn. The instant gratification is such a boost.
I'm the kind of person who will find one dish from a restaurant that I love, and rarely deviate from it, so I do stick with brands I know. I really like the options that Lion Brand has for non-animal fibers, and the quality is good for the price. I eespecially love the Heartland line, which has a lot of depth to the color and washes up beautifully. I can think of at least ten things I have knit from it.
Are you able to find all the weights in types of yarn you can work with?
I struggle to find sock yarn that is well priced and not wool. You can find yarn that isn't that weight, but it tends to become brittle very quickly and you get holes. I have some no-wool sock yarn which is 7% PBT, a spandex like material. I'm excited to give that the try, but I have two more sweaters to go if I want to make my goal of doing 12 this year. Oh, and lace weight yarn is hard because blocking acryilc stuff is tricky anyway, but also, what's available to me always looks a little cheap, in my opinion.
Have you heard of the milk protein yarn?
I have worked with the milk protein yarn. I made my daughter a sweater dress with it a few years ago, and it is lovely to work with. I don't remember the brand. Banana tree bark fibers are really fun, too.
What’s your favorite FO?
Right now, I am living in my Armande Sweater. It's made from the Lion Brand Heartland, and I goofed up the gage, so it is oversized instead of fitted like the pattern is written, but it's so cozy that I don't care. It works, it just requires a different styling. Other than that, I made each of my kids and my nephew a Flax sweater, also from that yarn, each in a different color, and i'm really proud of that. We're going to get pictures out in the fall leaves soon.
Do you have big box store yarn recommendations?
Lion Brand Heartland is pretty accessible in fabric stores, and it surprises people when they learn that it's acrylic. Bernat Satin is also decent, and I am always pleasantly surprised by the worsted weight Caron Simply Soft, though I didn't like the quality of their lighter weight acrylic. None of those will have that awful squeaky feeling you get from some cheaper acrylics. What I wish more would get are things like Cascade Ultra Pima, nice mercerized cotton, not dishcloth type cotton.
If you're going to order online, The Tatamy Tweed yarns are really nice. It's a cotton acrylic blend. You can get them in a DK weight or Worsted, While the Heartland Yarn is great for drapey, cozy stuff, the Tatamy yarn is good for things that are more structured- cables look amazing in it. It's another acrylic blend that looks like wool because of the depth and subtle variegation in color. From Knit Picks, the Shine is a really nice cotton/modal blend and drapes like a dream.
Do you have a favorite fiber, or fiber mix, or does that change depending on the project?
Price is usually a determining factor, but I try to meet in the middle when it comes to price and feel of the yarn. Because Heartland isn't ideal for structured knits, I'm hoping that the simply soft will work well, but if not, I'll switch to using the Tatamy. I'd rather get something I can touch in the store, but I'm comfortable with how that has turned out for other projects that I feel okay about ordering online.