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Tips from Crystal Palace Yarns - Straw Into Gold

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Knitting with Crystal Palace Cotton Chenille

What is Chenille?

The word "chenille" means caterpillar in French. If you look at a furry caterpillar you can see why the name is appropriate.

Chenille, is a style of yam that can be made in any of a variety of fibers: cotton, rayon, acrylic, wool or silk. It is not spun yarn, but it is made from fine yarns which are woven and then cut apart to form the chenille structure. The style of pile in chenille can vary from flat to round depending on how it is manufactured.

Minimizing Chenille Problems

Worming means a protrusion of a stitch from the rest of the knitted fabric. This happens because there is a high amount of twist put into the core yam during manufacturing to hold the pile in place. There is also a fiber factor. Slippery fibers such as acrylic and rayon chenille may have a much higher tendency to "worn" than cotton chenille does. Knitting at a snug gauge helps, knitting very loose causes worming. Crystal Palace Cotton Chenille is very resistant to worming and you should not have any problems unless you are knitting at a very loose gauge.

Biasing happens because the yarn is twisted during manufacturing and the knitted fabric may slant or bias. A few knitters may throw the yarn in a way that increases the twist. Experiment with different stitches if you find your St st biases. Try knitting continental style because it doesn't add more twist to an already twisted yarn.  Do not knit in the round if you show some bias in your st st since it will increase the effect. Going back and forth minimizes bias. When going from one skein to the next, work from different ends. Using different stitches is a good solution (see the Sampler Vest here).

Shedding is the release of bits of pile from the core yarn. This happens when the pile is not held tightly enough by the twist of the core yarn. To minimize shedding, some chenille yarns are made with a special kind of core that, when heat-set, bonds with the pile fibers. The structure of the center core is also a factor. There is a way of weaving the core (sort of like a "leno" weave) which grips the yarns more snugly and leads to less shedding. The Cotton Chenille from Crystal Palace Yarns has this more stable center core.

Combining Chenille is a good way to make your own novelty yarn. Combining Cotton Chenille with Waikiki makes a great looking knit (see one easy combined pattern here).

If you want to try Cotton Chenille before you start a large project - try our easy cotton chenille washcloth pattern.

Working with Chenille

Because chenille doesn't have much elasticity, consider choosing a pattern that doesn't have a ribbing or work the ribbing in a different yarn. Be careful not to make a small head or armhole opening in chenille since it lacks stretch and can cause the yarn to break if it has to be forced. A picot or lace edge is a nice finish on a chenille garment. Use a tubular cast-on to make the edge more flexible. (Notice the lace edge on the Chenille Bobble Sweater here).

Knit tightly!! Go down two needle sizes so that you lock the stitches in place. Steam the finished fabric to bring the softness back. Seed stitch is a good pattern to use. A wide rib is attractive for scarves.

Assemble your knit pieces with wool since it has some stretch.


Chenille is a wonderful yarn. The finished product is worth the extra effort!!


See our other Tips and How-to Information here


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