I found a lovely seller on Ebay who specializes in chenille yarns. She carries a bulky cotton chenille that seems comparable to Rowan Chunky Chenille, so I purchased one of her four packs to do some test knitting. The yarn arrived super fast. (I give Chenille Shack highest marks for customer service. If you need chenille yarn, this is the place to go!) I wanted to give the yarn a thorough test with the pattern so rather than doing a swatch, I decided to just cast on a sleeve as written for Iona. This way I could test the color work cuff as well as the cable section.
At first I found the chenille hard on my hands. After an hour or so of solid knitting, my hands were aching. Chenille has no stretch or give like plied yarns do because of its construction and cotton itself is inelastic as well. Furthermore, you're knitting with bulky yarn (eh, maybe closer to heavy worsted) on US 5 and 7 needles, that's a somewhat firm gauge. The next day I tried again, loosening my tension a bit and I did not experience the hand fatigue. I'm getting stitch gauge, spot on (4 st/inch) but my row gauge is off (5 row/inch instead of 6). This could be a bit problematic because of the nature of the cable motif (the whole thing needs to fit in a specific amount of space. Since I'm getting fewer rows than called for, the motif will take up more space.) There's enough background I think I could adjust though.
The question is if I like the yarn enough to do a whole sweater with it. Here's what the swatch looks like so far.
The yarn is moderately soft, but I've heard it softens considerably upon washing. It feels a bit heavy although it is cotton. The drape is ok and I imagine will only improve with washing. My issue is the reverse stockinette (the part above the checkerboard).
That is how the sweater is designed, with the "wrong" side of the stitch to the front. I've just never been a fan of reverse stockinette. It makes me feel like my sweater is inside out. And with chenille yarn it feels even more so. I'm not going to rush to a decision. Having picked up some yarn to test the pattern has scratched the Iona itch for now and I'm satisfied to think about it for awhile before making a final decision. I think the next time I place a Knit Picks order I'll pick up 2 balls of Comfy bulky and see how that looks. If I feel the same ways about the ugliness of reverse stockinette then this pattern may be out of the queue.
There's still plenty of other knitting going on. I'm working on a pair of socks in that Bluetopia BFL I picked up from Liberty during her sale.
This is the Tea Party color way (the picture is not doing it justice) and the pattern is called "Purl When Ready" from the Big Book of Socks. It's mostly a plain vanilla sock with a few purl stitches thrown in randomly for interest.
I'm also working on a Featherweight Cardigan by Hannah Fettig.
The pattern calls for laceweight yarn, but I wanted a slightly more substantial yet still lightweight sweater so I'm using Knit Picks Comfy fingering weight yarn. It's a super easy knit and I am loving the fabric it's producing. Knitting sock yarn on US 6 (4mm) needles produces such a fabulous drape. The sweater feels like the softest tee shirt. It is moving along at a pretty decent clip and I would hope to be able to wear it this season yet.
The Multnomah shawl, Bitterroot shawl and Sleepy Hollow socks all get a few rows knitted on them each week, but there's no visible progress there. I enjoy having this variety of projects (from mindless to challenging) at hand to suit my mood at the time.
Lastly, the Wollmeise count is up to 4 and holding. After I received my first order, I was around for another Saturday update and managed to grab a Kunterbunt and a Gemischt small grab bags in Twin (and 80/20 merino/nylon blend sock yarn). The intention was for them to go to Jen since at that time she still didn't have any WM. But as it turned out, by the time they came, she had managed to order 6 skeins for herself (which is producing much frustration do to a shipping problem, but that's another story). When the 4 skeins arrived, I found the Gemischt was the exact same colors I got in my first order a few weeks prior. Jen happily took those 2. She was nice enough to let me keep the Kunterbunt set.
So here's my current inventory.
My Old Blue Jeans, Campari Orange and 2 Versuchskaninchen. Jen is leaving me in the dust. She's already balled her's up and has started knitting socks! I still can not bear to unwrap them. In fact they still live in their original bag. I still want to get a big Kunterbunt or maybe Gemischt bag one of these days. But there seems to be a lot of duplicate yarns being shipped right now and I'm really hoping for a variety. So I'm holding off for at least a month or two before trying for more.