A skein of Kitchen Cotton
Different colors of Kitchen Cotton knit up into a Ballband Dishcloth
click each image to enlarge

Yarn Profile: Lion Brand Kitchen Cotton

By special guest reviewer Kay Gardiner of Mason-Dixon Knitting

First Impressions
Loosely plied and crunchy in appearance, Kitchen Cotton announces itself as a classic dishcloth cotton. While knitters who are accustomed to springy animal fibers or elegantly smooth mercerized cotton yarns might be slightly put off by Kitchen Cotton's resemblance to string, a veteran dishcloth knitter will whisper, "Come to Mama."

This is dishcloth cotton, plain and simple. While other yarns are sipping from demitasses and making sparkling conversation upstairs, Kitchen Cotton is in the scullery, scouring the pots and getting shouted at by the cook. Don't be fooled by the fresh, pretty colors; Kitchen Cotton works for a living.

Knitting Up
Having knit several hundred dishcloths, in virtually every brand of dishcloth or "craft" cotton yarns, your reviewer may not have the best perspective on how Kitchen Cotton knits up. Compared to what?

Once you're accustomed to the yarn's slight tendency to split (due to the loose twist) and its utter lack of elasticity (a characteristic of even the most luxurious unblended cottons), Kitchen Cotton knits up just great.

I picked up a pair of short, snub-nosed bamboo needles, cast on the time-honored Ballband Dishcloth pattern, and sighed with happiness as rows of colorful bricks appeared. Kitchen Cotton's stitch definition is crystalline, with stitches that are regular in size and shape.

The yarn does feel coarse and dry in the hands, which may cause the uninitiated to whimper. But in the finished handknit, "coarse and dry" translates to "sturdy and absorbent."

Both qualities are a plus for any knitted item that is destined for daily service in the kitchen or bath.

Blocking / Washing
The care instructions on the label—machine wash on the delicate cycle; tumble dry low—struck me as overly cautious. Most households do not launder dishcloths, handtowels, and potholders on the delicate setting.

I washed a sample dishcloth in hot water (on the ominous "sanitize" setting) and set the dryer to "normal." The colors faded a bit, and there was some shrinkage (10 percent or so) on this first wash, but the cloth smelled and felt great. It went straight into the dishcloth drawer and assumed its place in the sink rotation.

If you're knitting a blanket or sweater from this yarn, the label's care instructions will yield a softer fabric that will probably look nicer for a longer time. I laundered another dishcloth (why knit a swatch when you can knit a dishcloth?) according to the instructions on the label, and it faded very little and had a less cardboardy feel.

But I do not recommend making a garment out of a yarn this rough. A baby blanket—another item that sees hard wear and frequent laundering—maybe, but not a garment. There are cotton and blended yarns available in this price neighborhood that are more suitable for clothing.

Wearing
The loose twist and short fibers of Kitchen Cotton make this a fairly weak yarn that is easily broken by hand. (No need to carry scissors when working with Kitchen Cotton.)

But paradoxically, if Kitchen Cotton is knitted to gauge (or a bit tighter), the knitted fabric is tough and durable; it pills very little.

Conclusion
Kitchen Cotton is a good cotton yarn for making dishcloths, towels, oven mitts, and other home items that will see a lot of use and washing.

Dishcloth Nation (yes, there is a robust culture of dishcloth knitters) will likely squawk about the yarn's limited color range (only 14 on the current shade card), since a major attraction of knitting small kitchen items is the opportunity for low-risk color play.

As any kindergartner can attest, a box of crayons with only 14 colors is not as much fun as the flip-top box that includes "Burnt Siena" and has a built-in sharpener.

 

About the author
Since 2003, Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne have been holding forth at their beloved blog, Masondixonknitting.com. Together, they have written two books, Mason-Dixon Knitting: The Curious Knitter's Guide, and Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines.

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