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.