As a knitter or hooker, you will probably get an awful lot of “helpful” friends sending you links and pictures of the latest cute or amazing trends in knitting and crochet. Over and over and over again. The constant tags on mermaid tails, and those knee high socks with the flowers and stripes.
Well, last year saw a sudden surge in “massive knit and crochet”. Nothing wrong with it, per se; but the suggestions to use roving or unspun fibre are just wrong and very expensive (in my opinion). I lost count of the amount of people I saw asking in groups about where they could buy the roving. And I almost fell into the trap myself, I found some amazing stockists on Etsy and added stuff to my wishlist. There were even one or two of these “giant yarn” stockists at Yarndale last year and I eyed it all up for ages.
So here’s some info you may need to know if you want to make these massive knit and crochet items:
What is roving?
By roving, I mean the chunky sausage like lengths of fibre, which are usually used to spin into yarn. The spinning is the magic (or science!) that makes yarn more durable and stretchy. Without it, you just have wool.
What could go wrong?
As above, roving is intended for spinning. It is an unfinished part of the yarn process. If you skip the spinning part, you are possibly going to come out of this with an unusable item.
The wool is likely to shed very quickly, leaving your living room or bedroom looking like a sheep farm.
The item will possibly come apart. This will make you cry, because making it took you ages (longer than the 60 minutes some tutorials have stated), and because your arms bloody hurt whilst making it!!
That brings me onto the next part, the pain. Anyone who has ever attempted to use anything over a 10/12mm needle or hook will know of the cramp that often comes with it.
And lastly, the price is just ludicrous! Seriously.
Yeah, you are going to have some friends who did it and it was fine, but anecdotal evidence is a massive bugbear of mine, so whatever!
Edit: several people have since mentioned cleaning to me. Yeah, you ain’t getting that thing clean. And if you have children or pets, good luck!
But I want to make it!!
So do I! It’s cool! And I even have a Pinterest board dedicated to it! So here are some recommendations for what to use:
Edit: New gorilla yarn is possibly the best alternative found in the UK at the moment. See my blog post here more info/review.
You can get some lovely jersey yarn, I particularly like Hoooked Zpagetti. But there are many others, including indie made stuff on Etsy. There is even a whole UK based website dedicated to just jersey yarn! You can double this stuff up and get a durable chunky look.
There is also Lion Brand Jumbo. I have found this on Amazon, but if you search further around the web I am sure there are other places which import the stuff. There are also some lovely patterns for it on Rav.
And I have seen a slow emergence of some jumbo jersey which appears to be filled with polyamide, giving the look and feel of plump roving without the wool. I have so far only seen videos, and I found one person on Etsy who stocks it. But hopefully the demand will be there, and people will start producing more of it.
There is also acrylic roving available. I’m not sure if this would act the same way as wool roving, but it’s worth asking a supplier for a sample. They can only say no! (Edit: I have been told that the acrylic is much the same as merino).
If you have read all of this and you still desperately want to use merino roving, you may want to felt it afterwards. This would require making it at a much larger size than you want. And probably a hot shower and some stamping….or if you are blessed with a massive washing machine, that might do it! But be warned that felting will shrink it, it will be less soft, and you might ultimately ruin the whole thing.
Edit: I’ve been asked where to get knitting needles and crochet hooks that big. Good question! Woollymahoosive on Etsy (or their website, click on the name) was one company I saw at Yarndale. They do the needles. And Becky at Doodlestop can also make needles and hooks in request.
So, if you can afford it, and you can put up with the arm breaking cramp, go for it! Just choose your yarn wisely!