A Bit of Tencel to Join Merino

I am sometimes surprised at the “ingredients” I find making up my yarn. When I began crocheting I treated all yarn as if they were all the same, then as I began to get a bit more serious about working in crochet for a living I found that I needed a better understanding of my material in order to make my designs a bit more practical, and understand how my materials could affect the outcome.

Over the last several years I have taken in vast amount of study and research in yarn and the fibers that create them, yet there are still times that I pick up a skein admire its feel, admire its texture and then look at the label and I am a bit taken aback as to its contents.

Valley Yarns Coltrain www.lindadeancrochet.com

Valley Yarns Coltrain

One such yarn is Valley Yarns Colrain. It is a simple soft yarn that has a slight sheen, which lead me to think that the label would look much like most yarns on the market a wool mixed possibly mixed with an acrylic, so I was a little taken aback when it stated “50% Merino/50% Tencel™”.  The Merino did not surprise me, it is a well-known wool that is known for its softness and warmth. As a drawback it is also known for its great tendency to felt (that is shrink), but it is readily found in the markets and a fiber that most esteem to be like.

It was the Tencel™ that caused me to give a bit of a pause. It is a synthetic material that is created from wood pulp, as is rayon. Tencel™, as you may have noticed is a trademarked name, this is because the process which creates this material is trademarked, so all I really know about how it is created is that the base is wood pulp that uses a dry jet-wet spinning method to create this filament.

The properties of Tencel™ are vast.  It is recognized as being soft, as well as strong (even strong when wet). It is often cool to the touch and feels silky, while being able to wick moisture from the body. Like most synthetic materials it can also be created to imitate many other textiles and textures, in this case suede, leather or silk.

The combination of these 2 materials creates a pretty stable yarn. The Tencel™ creates the smooth feel while the Merino causes for the warmth. Each4 ply  ball is 50 grams and 109 yards, so one skein may create a hat or something small, so consider picking up a few extra balls for almost any project.

Exotic Fibers, Yak by Bijou Basin Ranch….A Fine Yarn

It is amazing how many different fibers can create yarn. When I decided to start writing about features and effects of various yarns, I don’t think I was fully aware how great the diversity was. One of these unique fibers is yak.

Bijou Basin Ranch, Bijou Spun Himalayan Trail yarn has one of the highest quality of yak down that I have found in a yarn. It is comprised of 75% Yak Down, and 25% Superfine Merino, and I can testify that it feels like luxury. The skein is 2oz in weight with 200 yards of yarn, making it a fine weight yarn (also recognized as a #2 weight).

Himalayan Trail yarn www.lindadeancrochet.com

Bijou Basin Ranch Himalayan Trail yarn….created with Yak Down

Yak is probably not a fiber that most crocheters have had the pleasure to work with, one of these reasons is that it is not readily available everywhere, and the other is it usually falls into a price point that discourages some. Yak is a very soft fiber, it has a fine micron count, meaning that the individual fibers are very thin. The finer the micron count the softer the fiber. This fiber is not only soft, it is warm. If there is any doubt to its warmth, this fiber is the undercoat of a large mammal that lives in the high country of the Himalayan Mountains, where weather is cold and draining. This is the fiber that keeps these animals warm.

Collection of Yak fibers is typically labor intensive, as it is usually collected after it is shed from the animal, these animals are not sheared, but in some cases maybe combed to collect the shed fibers. This is one of the primary reasons for the cost factor of the yarn, the supply of yak is not easy to obtain and thus not overly plentiful.

This fiber is then paired with just a bit of superfine Merino, another fiber of fine micron count, this helps to add a bit more stability to the overall yarn while still keeping with the very soft and almost pillowy feel of the yarn. The four plies of this yarn are smooth and consistent resulting in a yarn with very little halo, and a much defined smooth tubular yarn that enables great stitch definition.

I think this yummy yarn would look excellent in some cables, or texture stitches, as well as great with defined open work. One skein can easily create a hat or scarf, possibly even a short pair of fingerless gloves. If you have the opportunity to treat yourself a bit, do not hesitate to try Himalayan Trail, you will be glad you did.

Timaru- Yarn Fun with Bamboo

In the world of yarn there can be many really exotic fibers, but at the end of the day we all usually fall back to the most affordable and common. That is why it is a treat to come across a yarn that offers so much to a design, and can take the basic to extraordinary.

One of these extraordinary yarns is Timaru from Lisa Souza Dyeworks. It is a fingering weight yarn that is comprised of 65% Superwash Merino and 35% Rayon of Bamboo. It has a very generous 500 yards per 100 gram hanks, so it goes a long way.

Timaru....www.lindadeancrochet.com

Timaru by Lisa Souza Dyeworks Merino with Bamboo yarn

The Superwash Merino ensures that this yarn is going to be soft, and can have some warmth, as well as being treated so that it does not felt or shrink. Merino is a great wool, but it is not what makes this yarn so special, in this case it is the Bamboo.

The bamboo in this yarn indicates that it is a Rayon, this means that the bamboo is made into a pulp, using the leaves, and some stem. It is ground down and added to a chemical bath to create “goo”. If you ever made homemade paper, it is a little similar. This pulp is then extruded through small holes to create a long filament. Another name you can find for bamboo processed this way is Viscose.

The way it comes together in Timaru with the Superwash Merino lends itself to a yarn with a great drape. Bamboo gives a cool touch to this yarn, so it makes it very warm weather friendly. It also does not take the dye the same as the wool (a protein fiber, whereas the bamboo is a cellulous fiber), this causes a really beautiful lustrous sheen.

I can easily see this yarn worked up as a shawl, a wrap, a tank top…I even know people that love it as a sock yarn. It has a great amount of versatility without sacrificing its integrity in any project. It might actually be difficult to find a project that this yarn will not shine in.

Ava, A Great Yarn by Anzula

I am always on the lookout for yarn that inspires me. Sometimes this is color, sometimes this it texture, but regardless it needs to be good quality. Anzula Ava certainly qualify in this part.

Ava is a sport weight yarn, which is 80% superwash merino (meaning it is a soft and warm wool that will not felt), 10% cashmere (adding to the softness and warmth) and 10% nylon (giving it added strength). One skein offers a generous 330 yards/301 meters.

I really do love the feel of this yarn. It is soft in the hand and lighter in weight then it appears to look at it.  It has very little halo, no real springiness, but instead offers a really nice stable 3 ply yarn. The twist is tight, and creates a nice round yarn that I do not usually find in typical 3 ply yarns. The Merino and Cashmere really play nicely together, creating a fabric that is very soft in the hand. It is surely a fabric that you would like near the skin, even though it is soft, it is still sturdy and durable. I consider it a reliable yarn. I know that it will bring its best to my project and will enhance any project that I put it to use in.

Anzula Yarn Ava www.lindadeancrochet.com

Anzula Ava yarn

It seems to wear well, meaning that it does not pill or stretch out of shape much. It has nice stitch definition, the only thing that moves your eye from the definition of the stitches is the way to color smoothly transitions through subtle hues in this hand dyed yarn.

I would consider this yarn one for special projects. It makes great accessories, like hats and scarves, but can easily make up gloves. I would love it in a sweater or shawl, a nice cardigan, anything that is you would love to treasure. I highly recommend playing with this yarn, you will enjoy it.

Merino & Acrylic- Deramores a Nice Choice

I was surprised at how soft and gentle I found Deramores Vintage Chunky yarn. It is quite lofty and works up very smoothly. I found it really pleasant to use, and would gladly pick it up again. It is not as springy as I would have thought by looking at it (yet there is a little),it is very stable and giving great stitch definition.

Deramores Vintage Chunky yarn. Www.lindadeancrochet.com

Deramores Vintage Chunky yarn

This yarn is half acrylic and half Merino Wool, which might explain the lack of springiness, as Merino may be known for its softness and warm, but it appears that this combination with acrylic reduces the amount of stretch that might otherwise be present. It is probably the Merino that gives this yarn its loft and airiness appearance, yet the acrylic tempers it enough that it could be worked as a home décor item, instead of the garment wear that I usually feel is better fitting for Merino.

It is a 5 ply yarn may have a slight tendency to pill after excessive wear, yet does not split when being worked. The fiber has a moderate length and this gives the yarn a slight halo, this is also caused by the ply. It allows light to be refracted offering a subtle type of sheen, that I cannot quite fond the word for.

This yarn is a medium weight and a generous 100 gram ball has 153 yards, which goes a bit further then you might first think. I would readily use it for hats and scarves, but also for pillows and afghans. As it does not have much weight for a hearty drape, I would not use if for hairpin lace, and it has a bit too much spring for broomstick lace and love knot stitches, but it will work well with most all of traditional crochet methods.