Sorrel Sweater – budget friendly alternatives to mohair

Hello all, long time no see! I have a knit to share with you this week. I actually took these photos months ago and thought I already shared this but was obviously mistaken. This sweater is way too gorgeous to keep hidden so I am correcting my mistake now!

For anyone who doesn’t know, this pattern is the Wool and Pine Designs Sorrel Sweater and it is hugely popular, there are Spring and Summer weight versions of the pattern as well as this original version and they are everywhere! The pattern is pretty and simple to knit but the secret ingredient is knitting up those fades! There is a real magic involved in choosing 3/4/5 different coloured yarns and then ‘blending’ them together using a single colour of mohair all the way through. For my version I started with a light grey, changed to light green, then dark green and into a blue at the end. The fluffy green mohair ties the whole thing together and creates this blended fade effect.

These are the five colours I used in my fade.
Some of the colours with the mohair.

Let’s talk about mohair for a second, it definitely seems to be the ‘in’ thing at the moment for indie pattern designers to design knitting patterns for one kind of yarn held double with mohair. While I agree that it is useful in blending fades like this, I strongly dislike how it’s now normalised essentially doubling the cost of a project.

Several of the big hit patterns over the last couple of years have this design including the Sorrel Sweater, Whitmoor Sweater, Love Note and those are just the first ones that come to mind! Let’s break down the cost shall we?

I need approximately 1200m of each yarn – 4ply/sock weight AND mohair for my size (size 4)

  1. From an indie dyer… I need approx 1200 yards of sock weight yarn for my size (Size 4), each £20 100g skein contains roughly 400m so at the minimum I will need 3x £20 skeins to make my sweater = £60 to use the mohair as well, I will also need 1200m of mohair. From the same indie dyer, each £22 50g skein contains 420m of mohair so again I will need 3 skeins to make the sweater. Thats an additional £66 which more than doubles the cost of the sweater.
  2. From a commercial yarn shop… each 100g skein of my preferred wool costs £7.50 so x3 is £22.50 for the wool. The absolute cheapest mohair on the website is £3.80 for 210m. I will need six balls to get 1200m so 6x£3.80 = £22.80 once more doubling the cost of the sweater.

Obviously it will be more expensive if you wanted to make a 4/5 colour fade (this sweater is FIVE colours!). Or would be cheaper if you wanted to use acrylic yarn. Personal choices affect the outcome. My issue is with normalising the practise of designing sweaters that cost double, excluding a lot of people from making those patterns.

Here’s the secondhand yarn I bought for my Whitmoor. The cone cost £4 from someone locally and the mohair was an incredibly lucky match and cost me £15 from eBay.

Here are some ways I have made these patterns cheaper:

  1. I have sourced the yarns second hand. I have just finished knitting a Whitmoor Sweater out of second hand yarns. I bought a cone of viscose/bamboo yarn from a lady on a local selling group. It cost me £4 for 400g. I then (very) patiently waited for a similar colour mohair to pop up on eBay, I paid £15 for the mohair. Of course, this only works for those who have the luxury of time and are prepared to wait for what they are looking for OR for those people who aren’t looking for something specific and are flexible in what they are looking for.
  2. For this Sorrel Sweater I looked for ages to find the mohair secondhand (at least a year). One of the great things about this pattern is that it is amazing for using up those single lonely skeins hanging around in your stash, but I wanted a very specific shade of green to tie them all together. After I couldn’t find the right shade and quantity secondhand I went hunting for a good value alternative. I settled on trying this mohair/acrylic blend on a cone from Yeoman Yarns. It feels a bit scratchier than kid silk mohair so if you are sensitive to the feel of mohair then this isn’t a good option for you. It cost £19 (plus postage) but has at least enough on the cone for two (maybe three!) sweaters. If I decide i don’t want two or three sweaters using the same colour then I’ll sell the rest of this cone on eBay continuing the cycle…
  3. The final way to make them cheaper is to omit using the mohair altogether. The pattern designers say that you can use DK instead of sock+mohair held together. I haven’t tried this yet as I am skeptical that this would significantly change the drape of the garment, thus meaning those of us with less cash are not able to make the pattern with intended fabric and drape. However, I am planning to try this for my next sweater so I will report back on how that goes.

Of course I know knitting is a hobby, and we can all choose to make what is within our budget. I am just pretty surprised no one is talking about how every big hit/trendy pattern over the last few years has been one that holds mohair with another yarn and that’s financially inaccessible for so many!

In relation to the pattern itself, it was a joy to knit. The yoke detail is so fun to knit and then once you’re through the yoke you get to watch the colours fade and change, meaning that it never gets boring to knit! I am completely in love with this and know I will treasure it.

3 thoughts on “Sorrel Sweater – budget friendly alternatives to mohair

  1. I’ve made two Love Notes now- only the first one included mohair. The main yarn was an indie dye, but the mohair was bought secondhand online. I liked the shape on me so much that I used DK for the next one. It came out fine, not much different from the mohair version. I also have made two child size versions in DK, which worked well. Go for it, it’s a great pattern, with a brilliant size range!

    Like

  2. Funnily enough I have a green fade of yarn specifically to make this sweater, I’m really excited now! I dont know if it would help cost wise but knitting for olive have lovely quality yarn at a more accessible price point.

    You do raise a great point about the accessibility of the practise though. For someone like me with sensitive skin, being able to save up and use mohair or surf makes a huge difference in my comfort.

    I’m interested to hear your experience of dk vs double strand. I’m guessing that it’s going to depend on gauge and the yarn

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply to Katie Dooley Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s