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Yarn Profile: Classic Elite LaGran

First Impressions
I'll always have a special place in my heart for LaGran. It singlehandedly brought me out of a non-knitting slump that had lasted almost a decade. The yarn shop owner was reluctant to sell it to me because I hadn't ever completed a sweater before. She recommended Brown Sheep or another "easy" yarn, but my mind was made up.

Today, many years later, that sweater occupies a prized position in my closet. It's not a very remarkable item, nor was my knitting, so I credit all the "oohs" and "aaahs" I receive to the yarn itself.

The La Gran colors are anything but basic, and that's what makes them so appealing to me. There are soft greens, vibrant corals (as you can see in the test swatch above), gentle yellows, pinks, and blues that are are impossible to define... and the list goes on.

As an added bonus, Classic Elite continues to publish a variety of patterns for La Gran that are among my favorite. So it's easy to buy a full package and know that it'll work. I don't mean to sound biased, but I like this stuff.

Knitting Up
As with any brushed mohair, La Gran requires more concentration than the average yarn. This is because the fuzz has a tendency to take on a life of its own, getting caught in stitches where it doesn't belong. If you pay attention to the fuzz and make sure to knit only the stitch below, however, you'll find that this yarn knits up quickly and pleasantly.

An added bonus is that this yarn feels very similar to having a cat on your lap (complete with the fuzz they leave behind).

Blocking / Washing
When washed in lukewarm water using Eucalan, the La Gran performed beautifully. There was almost no color fading, and the fiber bounced right back into shape with minimal prodding. I left it outside on a towel, fluffed it up a bit, and it looked as good as new.

I don't advise blocking this yarn with an iron, no matter how low the heat or thick the towel (between the iron and the garment). You'll end up with a wad of fiber that resembles a horse blanket. Trust me, I (regretfully) speak from experience on this one.

I've only noticed a few problems when wearing La Gran garments, and they're more a result of the fiber itself than La Gran as a brand. First, don't be surprised if your sleeves grow longer and longer with wear. A simple washing and reblocking will take care of this.

Second, the long fibers in La Gran's fluff can, over time, spin themselves together into larger entities that almost look like dreadlocks. And finally, don't forget to wear something under your garment! It may feel thick, but if you're knitting one strand of La Gran using the recommended needle size, you'll have yourself one potentially see-through sweater. I've got quite embarrassing photos to prove my point.

Classic Elite stopped spinning La Gran at the Lowell mills and now buys it from South Africa. The fiber combination has shifted a bit over the years to make it a stronger fiber with less fuzz.

I hear people complain that La Gran is priced too high. You might be able to find similar mohair for less than La Gran, but always check the fiber content (does the lower-priced yarn have a higher nylon content, for example) and color cards. For me, the softness and colors keep me coming back for more.

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