Thursday, August 10, 2006

Lily v. Rowan: You Decide

You see before you six swatches of adequate size, champion Rowan handknit cotton dk in orange and the contender Lily Elite Cotton in blue. All knit to the same gauge, on the same needles, within a 48 hour time span, blah, blah, blah . . .

(Photo taken before any wetting, blocking, etc.)

From left to right, we have:

1.) the "control" swatches (identified by a knot-free cast-on tail);

2.) the "test" swatches (identified by a single knot in the cast-on tail); and

3.) the "I don't care what your precious 'care instructions' say, you are going into that dryer along with everything else" swatches.

Important note: Did not spend nearly long enough on this project to determine whether either yarn had fading issues. And I'm not gonna.

First, a quick demonstration of why, if we wish to maintain the dimensions of our knitting, we really don't want to indiscriminately toss this stuff into the dryer:

Note that the Rowan and the Lily have remarkably similar reactions to this abuse.

Even if you stop short of the dryer, both yarns have an increased fuzz-factor:


If your question is, "Which is better?" . . .


No contest. (Are you on crack?)

Although you can't see it so good in the pictures, Rowan beats Lily hands down.

The Rowan has a superior sheen, stitch definition, and suppleness. The Lily, while soft to the touch, is a little stiffer -- that is, it doesn't drape as well. (Possibly knitting the Lily at a slightly looser gauge would alleviate some of this. But that would defeat the purpose of this exercise, which was to evaluate the Lily as a substitute for the Rowan.) And the inferior stitch definition gives it a slightly muddier look. This is the case both before and after washing, and regardless of being blocked to dry or sent through the dryer.

And this is aside from the larger array of colors available from Rowan.

So, if you are making a "gonna wear this forever" garment, or if you just enjoy nice stuff, and if you can part with the dinero, you really do want the Rowan.


If your question is, "I really want to make such and such, which calls for a good quantity of Rowan handknit cotton dk, but I'm ashamed to say that I'm not quite ready to sell one of my kidneys to do it. Can I use the Lily instead?"

I would have to say . . .


Don't be under any delusions that it is a perfect substitute, or even a great substitute.

But it is an adequate substitute.

(You probably want to swatch it yourself to make sure you agree before you start hoarding the stuff . . . )



Blogger kelpkim said...

thanks--that was really helpful, especially the before and after dryer pictures.

6:08 PM  
Blogger Angela said...

You are a knitting fiend...good work! The pics make the Lily look nicer than the Rowan, but I'll take your word for it.


8:04 PM  
Blogger Starfish said...

Veddy Intedesting....since I have never made a garment for myself before, the Lily might be a good choice to practice the basics but still have a wearable (if not totally fabulous) item to wear.

6:45 PM  
Blogger alltangledup said...

this is very interesting as I was thinking of getting some of the Lily as a rowan sub and looking to see what others have thought.

10:55 AM  

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