As I’m sure some of you yarn snobs have seen, there is a new yarn in town and that is gorilla super chunky yarn!! It’s all over Indie Dyer’s Facebook pages and Instagrams.
The company responsible for this yarn is Chester Wool Co, who are one of the UKs most popular suppliers of undyed yarn. Their CWC website is dedicated to wholesale orders, and their Bluefaced website is where the smaller quantities are. They also own Wool2dye4 in the US, and Gorilla yarn should be available over there next week.
I got my hands on one lonely skein of this yarn from a dyer friend, to try out before ordering a full kilo.
At 8 metres per 100G, this yarn is damn chunky. It’s a possible contender for a roving replacement in those massive blankets which are so popular (read my blog post here for my opinion on those!).
The yarn is 100% superwash merino, and it comes in 250G skeins which is 20 metres (8m per 100G). It’s an icord construction, which should give it more durability than the unspun roving options.
First thoughts :
When it arrived, my first impressions were “Wow, that’s some snuggly s**t!”. It’s very soft, and seems surprisingly easy to handle. It it thicker than I expected it to be, which is great! I wanted something nice a big.
Man, is this yarn heavy when wet!! It took less than 5 minutes to fully saturate whilst soaking. It’s pretty thirsty! And seemed to behave a bit like roving but I had more control over it than I would with roving.
Now, I’m a dye hard kettle dyeing fan (see what I did there?). And I really don’t enjoy hand painting yarn at all. My main worry was that I can usually only fit 200g in my fish kettle. But once the yarn was wet, it thinned out and the skein became longer, so I managed to squish it into my fish kettle. Hand painters; you’re good, it would definitely be easy enough to paint (any dyers who hand painted theirs, I am happy to add your comments!).
It took dye like a dream! I had no issues with it not exhausting properly or taking a long time to exhaust. I used neat neon dye powder on mine and had no bleeding when I rinsed. I also used grey dye in liquid form and that was exhausted within about 5 minutes.
I’m not even vaguely careful when rinsing superwash, I don’t often leave it to cool before rinsing. And this was no exception (I was too excited!!). There were no signs of thermal shock/felting at all. As with other superwash yarn, this stuff can withstand heavy handedness.
When rinsing, it got fluffy, and I had fibre on my hands. But this also happens with the chunky merino/nylon singles, and the fluff goes away once dry. It’s a singles thing. The yarn also comes out of the sink looking all deflated, like roving does, don’t worry, it plumps up again once dry.
I didn’t want to risk putting it in the washing machine to get excess water out, so I wrapped it in a towel and lightly stepped on it. This is a must, because the fibre seems to hold so much water, it would take an age to dry otherwise. And you’d likely get drips all over your floor.
Working with it!!
The yarn comes in a skein, so it needs winding before use. I managed to fit it on my amish swift, even though it’s quite large. But it didn’t really need to go on the swift. I think it’ll be fine on the back of a chair, since there is only 20 metres to wind or maybe even on your lap.
Obviously it’s too thick to fit on even the most jumbo winder, so hand balling is the way forward.
CWC recommend 20-25mm needles and hooks. You can get these from various different shops on Etsy, but one particular company I’m aware of is Woolly Mahoosive.
I tried both knitting and crocheting the yarn. I have a big crochet hook, but no massive knitting needles. So I improvised with the knitting.
The yarn withstood plenty of frogging! I played with it a lot, doing rows and circles in crochet. Arm knitting and knitting using my fingers, I even tried knitting with one hand and my giant crochet hook! When frogging, it doesn’t stick to itself and it comes apart easily, and the thickness means that it doesn’t get tangled so easily. After some frogging, it does get a bit fluffy on the surface, but it doesn’t seem to shed much and stood up against the constant overuse.
With crochet, unless you are making something that needs to be stiff or stood up (like a basket), you will need a slightly larger hook. I’d hazard a guess at at least 25mm. This is because crochet can come out pretty dense as it is.
Arm knitting worked really well. But I couldn’t figure out how to arm knit in the round, I ended up knitting flat. But if anyone has a good link to how to arm knit in the round, please share! It’s useful for cowls.
Having tried so many different things, my opinion is that it’s great for the following things:
A thick blanket (this will require at least a kilo/4skeins).
A super thick hat.
A basket/wip receptacle.
A rug (this will also require at last 500g. The 250g I had made a crochet circle of about 80cm across)
A cowl (when doing this you might want to use super loose knit or crochet, otherwise the fabric will be dense with little drape)
A bag!! Yep, I attempted a handbag!
A cushion (use smaller than needed hook or needles to get a dense knit)
A wall hanging! Woven or knitted (this was my finished object)
There must be loads of other things, but these are the things I attempted.
I didn’t take photos before I frogged most items, I’m afraid! I really should have done. But my final end product was a length of fabric which I popped on two large knitting needles and used as a wall hanging! It was knitted using my big crochet hook and my fingers, and it created a dense knit, which is just visually stunning! Awesome stitch definition and I want to enlarge some of my close up photos and have them printed on a canvas!
From a dyer’s perspective it is so much fun to work with. It takes the dye like a dream and actually doesn’t take so long to dry as long as you do the towel squashing trick (or you could brave spinning it!).
From a user’s point of view, yeah it has it’s limits but so does most thicker yarn. It’s far superior to the roving that people are using for extreme crochet/knit. It’s superwash and perfectly cleanable. It doesn’t shed or disintegrate. It’s far more manageable than roving, since the icord construction means that it won’t pull apart in your hands.
The options for use are more wide than you think. I’d even go so far to say that you could create a massive sweater if you live in a particularly cold environment! It’s applications for home decor are pretty vast. It’s perfect for decorative items, vessels to keep things in (not water, ha!), rugs and blankets, cushions etc.
One skein (250g) can actually get you a few decent sized items. If you are wanting it for a blanket or larger item then you are going to have to fork out a lot of money, especially as a non dyer. But you are going to pay similar money for the massive roving which won’t create a lasting finished object.
All in all, I love it! It’s worth it. And if you are into extreme knit/crochet or want to be, it is absolutely perfect.
If you’ve used it or dyed it, please leave your opinions and experiences in the comments!!
And just a note to say, because I believe that I am legally obligated to! I did not receive payment from CWC for writing this blog. I wrote it because I just fancied it, and I love my supplier that much! However, I did get free postage on an order after the fact, as a thank you for the blog post.