a tale of one (or two or three or four…) yarn

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I’d like to use the opportunity of today’s topic to talk about an issue which is of everyday concern to knitters in my region, Southeast Europe, but which I rarely see mentioned on blogs from other countries. When bloggers from the UK and the US (my main source of company for morning coffee) start to write about yarn, they are inevitably writing about some luxurious blend that they couldn’t resist, some brand name they got on a bargain, or some cheap yarn that surprised them with its quality. Yet, when I go to the yarn shop here in Croatia, there are completely different worries on my mind.

While I am personally very lucky to travel quite a bit abroad, and use my travels as an opportunity to treat myself to an occasional brand-name, luxury-blend, high-quality yarn, like many knitters here for most of my projects I still depend on what is offered locally. There is one big yarn factory in Croatia and most of what’s on offer is due to it. The name of the factory is Unitas, and the names of the yarns always make me smile – they are simply popular Croatian female names. I rarely use my namesake – Ivana, because its colours never appeal to me, but its existence makes me happy nonetheless.

If you want variety of colour and weight, Unitas is your best choice in Croatia. The problem is, there is sometimes a bit too much variety. I present to you: several colours of Unitas Lucija.

All the yarns pictured above are from my stash, and every single one of them has the same label:

The composition is 50% wool and 50% acrylic. The recommended needle size 3 – 3.5mm. On Ravelry, Unitas Lucija is listed as a fingering weight. All good so far. But look closer. Do these look like the same yarn to you?

Not to me. And it ain’t the colour that’s the problem. Unitas simply doesn’t seem to have grasped the idea the yarns of the same name should preferably have the same characteristics. These yarns are not the same weight, they knit up to a different gauge, their elasticity ranges from completely stiff to wonderfully bouncy, some of them feel like they are pure acrylic and some like they contain mohair, and they are not even remotely spun or plied in the same way.

From left to right:

  • a soft 2-ply,
  • a strange novelty yarn in which the two colours feel like they’re glued, rather than plied together,
  • a single ply that resembles raw roving and breaks easily,
  • a construction of many thin tiny threads that seem to have been joined together in an i-cord method.

All. The. Same. Yarn.

I’d like to note here that I didn’t select these yarns with the intention of emphasizing the differences – I just pulled out all the skeins of Unitas Lucija I have in my stash and started taking photos. And it’s not a problem of just Lucija. There is the same problem with Marija, Ana, and all the other female-named yarns from Unitas’ offer. Yes, even with Ivana.

Have you ever seen a Rowan or a KnitPicks or a Drops yarn that has this much variation in itself? And can you imagine the problems of trying to select matching yarn for a project that requires two colours of the same yarn? Or the frustration of never knowing what gauge the yarn will be, even though you’ve worked with the same yarn ten times before? Or not knowing if it will be splitty or not, because you are encountering ten different plying methods in one shelf full of the same yarn? These are the problems knitters in my neck of the woods face every time they enter a yarn shop.

And that’s why I don’t need to write about two yarns today. I can take the same yarn and write ten different stories about it. It might sound like a fun idea at first, but when it comes to practicality, it quickly loses its appeal.

I just thought it was time someone finally said something about it.