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A skein of Swirl
Swirl knit up
click each image to enlarge
Yarn Profile:
Lorna's Laces Swirl

First Impressions
We know that different fibers absorb and reflect dye differently. But did you know that even within the same fiber family you can have differences?

Take this yarn for example. You have three strands of superwash merino paired with a single-ply blend of silk and regular merino. The yarn is then hand-dyed in multiple colors.

What you get is a candycane effect normally reserved for yarns that are dyed separately and then plied together. But in this case, as the colors shift from hue to hue, all plies keep perfect pace. Itís a surprising and pleasing trick to the eye.

Swirl was introduced at TNNA in January and is just now making its way to stores. The yarn is available in two weights, DK and Chunky. Here I review the DK weight in the color Mt. Creek, 565.

Knitting Up
Maybe it was the deceptively divisive candycane strand, maybe it was just me, but I was originally convinced Swirl would snag. To tempt the fates, I chose a pair of sharp-tipped Plymouth circular needles. Much to my surprise, however, Swirl didnít snag at all. The plies stayed right in place, and I was soon able to knit by touch alone.

The yarn flowed smoothly through my hands, gripping the needles just right and helping me maintain a steady tension. Stitches appeared even and the swatches, though curled at the edges, were otherwise perfect.

In my narrow swatches the colors repeated themselves as even flickering ripples. But in wider knitting, the colors will look like thinner dappled waves. Keep this in mind as you plan a project.

Blocking / Washing
My swatches bled light purple in the wash, but they rinsed clear after just one rinse. I could immediately see that the merino fibers had relaxed and produced a slight surface halo on the fabric.

They required a bit of prodding to resume their square position—the edges wanted to curl into the center, while the cast-on and cast-off edges stayed wide. The swatches dried very quickly, and I measured no change in gauge or color saturation whatsoever.

Although two-thirds of this yarn is superwash merino, you still wonít want to tempt fate by putting it in the washing machine.

Wearing
The slight bloom from wash never escalated into full-scale fuzz after the swatches dried. Their stitch definition stayed crisp and clear. In direct sunlight, the single ply of silk/merino pops out dramatically.

Three plies of superwash wool give Swirl a solid foundation in the wearability department. Reasonable friction did nothing to destroy the steady surface of my swatches. They softened, but they didn't budge.

Eventually additional undue friction caused faint wisps of the silk to come loose. Pulling them only disrupted the neighboring fibers, so I'd strongly recommend either leaving them alone or using a sweater shaver to snip them.

Conclusion
To make a yarn superwash, manufacturers must modify the actual wool fibers so that the tiny surface scales donít get tangled in the wash. Commonly this is done either by burning off the scales or gluing them down with a resin. Either way, they produce a fiber that reflects light and absorbs dye differently than its untreated counterpart.

That, and the addition of a tiny amount of silk, are the underlying secrets of Swirl. The three superwash plies absorb and reflect a far deeper shade of color than you see in the bright, shimmering silk/merino ply. On the strand, it looks like a barberpole. But when knit up, it calms into a more cohesive tweedy look.

When I look at Swirl, it keeps saying "socks" to me. Alone, silk wouldn't be the best choice—but a 15% dusting over a solid base of 85% merino, three strands of which are superwash, is enough convincing for me. Each skein holds 150 yards, so you'd be able to get a stellar pair of socks out of two skeins.

 

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