I generally don’t like working with cotton. It has no give. The aches and pains start in my fingers, and soon my hands are cramping. Thankfully, Spinrite Yarns has added Caron Cotton Cakes to the popular Caron Cakes yarn lineup.
Granted, my cotton experience has been limited. Bernat Handicrafter Cotton is the brand you’ll usually find at any store, whether it’s Walmart, Michaels or your local specialist boutique. BHC is 100% cotton, which, to be fair, is the most cotton for your buck. It’s hardy, long-wearing, and, to be honest, not the easiest thing to work with.
Caron Cotton Cakes aren’t 100% cotton, however. They’re a blend. At 60% cotton, 40% acrylic, the Cotton Cakes have a bit more give. It’s smoother on the fingers and doesn’t stick as much to whatever tools of destruction you choose to use.
Maybe it’s just me
Maybe it’s my fault for knitting with the stuff rather than crocheting. I’m finding crochet makes it easier for me to use yarns I normally wouldn’t work with. They’ve become much more accessible.
I usually use metal/plated needles and metal hooks. I find wooden needles create too much drag on the yarn, and make knitting harder for me. So I don’t use them. I don’t use ultra-sharp tips, either. I’ve actually worn/poked holes in my fingertips that way. It’s not pleasant.
Yarn construction matters.
I haven’t had a chance to knit with the Cotton Cakes, but I’ve definitely crocheted with it. It slides nicely through my fingers. I suspect this may be attributable to both the acrylic content as well as the way it was spun. In the comparison picture to the right, I’ve placed Handicrafter Cotton on the top and the Cotton Cake on the bottom.
The Cotton Cake appears to be spun finer, using more plies. Indeed, when I separate out the plies, I see a huge difference. The Handicrafter Cotton is made up of four plies spun together. The Cotton Cake is made up of five fine two-ply strands plied together; ten plies total. The effect gives the yarn a sleeker shape.
It can also be a little more “splitty” because of all those plies. While the plies in the normal cotton yarn will stick to each other, all those plies in the cake don’t really care if they stay spun together. When you get right down to it, it’s every two-ply for itself.
Working with Caron Cotton Cakes
The last time I really used standard knitting cotton was years ago. I made pot scrubbers, some washcloths, and a market bag. The experience had a lasting negative impression. I picked up a few skeins of Mission Falls 1824 Cotton with the intention of making a market bag, and just never got around to it. It’s in a cubby somewhere, just waiting until I get up the courage to work with such inflexible yarn.
Wildrose Backpack: Lilac
I’ve made two projects so far with the Caron Cotton Cakes. the first colourway I picked up is a nice self-striping skein by the name of Lavender Fields. I very quickly realized that I didn’t want to make the kind of project that colour way would demand. It would need to be a market bag, I thought, or a striped cotton blanket.
Instead, I dug around at the local Michaels and found a solid colour option. With that I made the Wildrose Backpack. The only problems I experienced with the pattern were due to the actual construction. I think that if I were to remake it, I would probably use a different granny square motif on the front, line it, and repurpose some old purse backpack straps rather than the very stretchy hand-made straps used here. I can do that: I have more yarn.
Malia Shoulder Bag: Lavender Fields
The second project I worked on used the actual Lavender Fields colourway. It’s still waiting for a lining, but when it’s finished, it will be a crossbody version of the Malia Shoulder Bag by Rebecca Langford. I started off with some leftover lilac, then switched to the self-striping yarn. It really doesn’t hurt that lilac is one of the colours in Lavender Fields.
Fast forward to the beginning of autumn. I went into Michaels to pick up something small and found they had moved all their Cotton Cakes into the wall display they have devoted to Caron Cakes. It’s just a huge jumble of yarn gauges in that section. I wound up asking one of the floor clerks whether the yarn was being phased out. The only response they could give was that they were making room for new stock. Understandable, but still just enough information to make me a little panicky.
I’ve since picked up a couple of other multicolour self-striping balls of Cotton Cakes, and when I realized I liked the way the backpack was turning out, I picked up a grey-blue solid of the same yarn. As I said to the lady at the checkout, “I finally found a cotton yarn I don’t hate.”
I actually like this cotton
Maybe that’s the upshot to all this. I can couch it in negative terms, or I can turn that around and say it more directly: I like this yarn. I like the way it feels when I hold it, and I like the fabric it creates. It’s soft, study, and hopefully will be hard-wearing.
If I had one nitpick, it’s that I wish it were available in an expanded range of solid colours I’d also prefer it was marketed as a staple yarn rather than as a seasonal option. Self-striping colourways can be incredibly limiting when you consider how many metres are in a stripe. I would rather have the option to pick up three or four balls of solids and stripe them myself.
I also like that the skeins aren’t teeny-tiny 50 gram balls. At 50 grams, about the only thing you can do with a single skein is make washcloths. The Caron Cotton Cakes I found at Michaels are a whopping 250 grams, and the ball band claims it’s a double-size ball. The Malia Bag I’m working on took just over half the 250g ball. It’s definitely possible to make a full project with just one skein.
Best of all, I picked up a few extra skeins on sale. Just in case they get discontinued. Because, well…I like this yarn.
How about you? Do you prefer Handicrafter Cotton? Do you even make items out of cotton yarn? Leave a comment down below letting me know your thoughts on Caron Cotton Cakes!