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Knitting With Cones

Hello everyone, thank you for the good feedback on our last post! Today we will go into something else we always get asked about – knitting with cones!

cones in our new back-shop area.

We offer quite a few of our ranges on cone but by far the most popular is our 2ply Jumper Weight, this is our traditional Shetland 4ply thickness wool that we have been producing since the 1960s. It’s available in over 100 shades and we often have most of these available.

We produce them in 500g cones. This is equal to 20 balls – approximately 2500 yards/2300 metres

Two shades we took back last year, left 9 and right 8

What is the difference between the yarn on cone or ball?

Nothing at all – when we order a shade we get a certain amount on cone and the rest on ball but initially the whole order is made on cone, the yarn to be turned into balls is then scoured and balled.

What would I use it for?

Lots of things! In Shetland cones are probably mostly used for knitting the body and sleeves of Yoke cardigans and jumpers and it is perfect for that but anything which needs a substantial amount of one shade will benefit from using a cone. Also if there is a shade you use a lot – it might be worth investing in a cone to always have to hand.

Why would I buy a cone over balls?

Cost: Because there are less production costs (no scouring, balling, bagging etc) the overall cost of a cone works out a lot cheaper than buying the balls – its over a 45% discount if you purchase it directly from us!

Ease of knitting: you just plop the cone down and knit! Compared to balls there are less ends, and within the cone you should find few if any knots which means a seamless garment will be just that.

Knitting Machine: If you have a knitting machine a cone is by far the easiest way to knit and because we sell the cones in oil (meaning the yarn is oiled with a synthetic oil – like sewing machine oil) that means the yarn will glide through the machine and not catch, and therefore break.


Can I handknit with a cone?

Of course, because the yarn is oiled it doesn’t feel the same as the balls but once washed it feels exactly the same. Anything made with the oiled yarn must be washed – we would advise this for any item made with Shetland Wool anyway but for the oiled yarn it is crucial, the oil is not meant to be next to skin and may irritate it.

Some people do not like the feeling of the oiled yarn to knit with so you can hank/skein the yarn, wash then wind it into balls if you prefer but it is not necessary.

The only time we would advise taking care would be if you were knitting with a very strong colour (black, red, blue etc) alongside a lighter colour as the stronger pigments can attach to the oil and bleed when first washed. In this case, we would wind off and wash or use a colour catcher when washing.


What about swatching?

If you need to swatch you must wash the swatch – the gauge is not reliable until its washed as with the oil it can look much thinner and therefore not give you a reliable tension.

How do you wash out the oil?

To remove the oil you need to submerge the item in very hot (not boiling) water along with a wool wash or hand wash wool detergent. You will see a lot of grey water which is the oil and perhaps some of the colour of the yarn as the dye can attach to the oil. Its best to leave the item (without agitating for up to an hour. Then rinse and repeat until the water runs completely clear.

We also offer our undyed Jumper Weight range on cone too – Shetland Supreme Jumper Weight is completely undyed and available in 9 Natural shades. Because this is a rarer fibre we don’t always have all the colours on cone available but as is the case with any product on our website you can add your email address to an ‘in-stock alert’ and it will email you as soon as we add more.

Sometimes there can be a long wait between us getting more of particular shades or ranges on cone, its important to understand that the cones are something we have chosen to offer to our retail customers as an extra to balls. We have to order large amounts of individual shades, and we are always trying to find the balance in ordering enough to sustain our physical shop, online shop and all our stockists. This is all done by us here in Shetland so we are grateful for your patience and understanding.

If you are a Lace knitter we also sometimes have our 1ply Cobweb, 1ply and 2ply Supreme Lace and Shetland Heritage ranges available on cone. You just need to keep an eye out on our online shop if the shade you want is not available.

If you have any more questions about knitting from a cone – just ask. Happy Knitting!

9 Comments Post a comment
  1. Valerie Torode #

    Thank you very much for the information.

    April 19, 2023
  2. kikithefirst #

    Thank you. I found that very helpful as I wasn’t sure what the difference was between balls and cones. The price difference surprised me.

    April 19, 2023
  3. Linda Ferrara #

    This article is very informative as I am presently knitting from a cone. It says to wash the knit in very hot water. Is there any problem with shrinkage since the water is hot?

    April 19, 2023
  4. Agitation is what felts yarn, it just needs to be not boiling 😊

    April 19, 2023
  5. Linda #

    Thank you.

    April 19, 2023
  6. Lynne #

    Thanks so much for the information! It answers some recent questions I have had.

    April 19, 2023
  7. Susan #

    I love knitting from the jumper weight cones. I can get a whole jumper from one cone and have plenty left for later colour work. It’s so good not having to splice balls 🙂

    April 19, 2023
  8. Teresa Porteus #

    Yarn on cones is a must for machine knitting and cost effective too 👍🙂

    April 29, 2023
  9. Francois Garcia #

    Love this it s blog. Have all the information I needed and more. Love the cones really good value. And i have managed to buy a old 1990’s pattern book which has a super pattern knitted with shetland will so will be knitting it.

    April 29, 2023

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