Actually, it wasn't meant to be a swatch, it was meant to be my third attempt at the cabled Aran shrug, but I was concentrating so hard on knitting backwards and cabling without a needle that I got one stitch out somewhere and I couldn't get the next panel straight. I've been playing with it while waiting to hear back about Cloud 3, and now I have help with those pesky decreases, it's time to go back to Cloud anyway. So I cast it off, called it a swatch and threw it in the washer with yesterday's muddy gaiters to see how the yarn would stand it. That large cone was 50p. Two strands held together make a good Aran weight yarn. From the cone, the yarn is a bit stiff and smells faintly of machine oil. Washed it softens nicely and smells only of washing powder. It doesn't smell of wool, burns brightly and leaves a blobby residue rather than ash, so I think it must be mostly artificial fibre. However it's very flexible when wet and has felted slightly, so it might have a bit of wool in it. When I make the shrug, I'll hand wash it, I think, to be on the safe side.
I've just about got the hang of cabling without a needle now - the trick is to drop the stitches off the needle, freeze, and then stop breathing until the cable is done and the stitches are safely back on the needle. Or in other words, keep everything as still as possible while working. Knitting, or rather purling backwards to do the bobbles is hard. My poor head goes into meltdown at the very idea. At the moment it takes three times longer because I have to turn the work around, see where the yarn and needles should be for each step of the process, then turn the work back and have a bash. Then I realise I've got it all wrong. Undo it. Start again. Just once or twice have I managed to purl the last stitch of the three bobble stitches backwards, but by the time I've knitted three I've forgotten again. Never mind. It'll come. It's not that I'm planning to knit that many bobbles, but think how useful knitting backwards will be for knitted-on edges.