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A skein of Bunny Hop
Bunny Hop knit up
click each image to enlarge
Yarn Profile:
Crystal Palace Yarns Bunny Hop

First Impressions
I first saw this yarn a few months ago at the Columbus TNNA. It was hanging in their Great Wall of Yarn area where all the exhibitors display skeins of their newest yarns. Scissors, tape, and little notebooks are provided so you can take snippets and make notes away from the pressure of the show floor.

Hundreds of yarns hung side by side, and it took something special to stand out from the crowd. There were more cable-spun yarns this year than in previous ones, so by the time I got to Bunny Hop I was in a "ho-hum, yet another cable-spun yarn" mood. (Cable-spun yarns consist of multiple plies that are, themselves, made of multiple plies.)

Then I looked at the tag, and everything stopped. This cable-spun yarn wasn't made of merino or even cotton, but superfine forms of acrylic and nylon blended with...angora?

That's right. Angora. A short, delicate luxury fiber I'd never in a million years pair with acrylic and nylon. Nor would I ever put it in a cabled yarn in which each ply is extremely tiny and delicate. Angora?

I snipped a strand and kept pulling it back out of my bag throughout the weekend. I was intrigued.

Knitting Up
The yarn looks and behaves like a cotton/merino blend—somewhere between Reynolds Cabana and Karabella Aurora 8. It has the firm substance of cotton, but it also has the marvelous bounce of merino. Yet it contains neither fiber.

From a knitting-up standpoint, you can pretty much forget there's any angora in this yarn—the 8% content is just enough for a hint of fluff here and there, but that's it. This yarn is firm but fluid, with a smooth and elastic feel that gives great bounce and stretch. My stitches clung comfortably to the needles without one single snag. After a few rows I was able to knit by touch alone.

As with most cable-spun yarns, Bunny Hop produces wonderfully round, steady stitches with fantastic stitch definition. It's lightweight enough that you can indulge in elaborate stitchwork and cables without worrying about overwhelming bulk. But you could also get away with beautifully smooth stockinette, perhaps adding stripes and blocks of color for accent.

Blocking / Washing
The fact that this yarn is machine-washable opens it up to a whole world of knitting possibilities—specifically for babies, children, and any adult who cannot accept the notion of washing things by hand.

The angora is so discreet in this yarn that you only see an occasional stray hair poking out. I hoped it'd bloom with wash, but this never happened. The swatches slowly absorbed their warm soapy water without ever fully losing their texture or shape. They didn't bleed or fade, and they quickly dried into perfectly formed little squares. There was no stretching or shrinking—everything came out pretty much as it went in. No surprises.

Wearing
To compensate for the lack of surprises during the wash, I became determined to bring about some change during the wearing tests. Specifically, I wanted to bring the angora to the surface. Sure, we love angora for its warmth and light weight, but what most of us want is the halo.

And slowly but surely, with gentle and sustained agitation, the fibers began to bloom. Not blatantly, but just enough to give the fabric a discreet fuzz similar to what you'd see in a well-worn merino.

In a few cases I found tiny slubs of loose fibers—baby pills, if you will—on the surface of my skein. I knit them up, figuring I'd pull them loose later. But when that time came, the pills wouldn't budge. I could see that they were firmly, deeply anchored strands of micronylon or microacrylic. The more I pulled, the more I disturbed the surrounding stitches and risked distorting the fabric. Not good. I'd strongly recommend you invest in a quality sweater shaver, which will snip those pills at the base without disturbing any of the deeper fibers.

No matter how hard I tugged, however, the fabric always bounced back into shape.

Conclusion
I happen to love angora, but I know not everybody does. So although I really wish this yarn had a greater amount of angora, I can understand how some people may find it just enough for their taste. But for me, it's used so discreetly that you almost think the stray protector hairs are from one of your pets instead of an intentional part of the yarn.

The micronylon gives excellent elasticity to the fabric, while the microacrylic adds strength. So although the yarn has a little bit of angora, an innately delicate, low-wear fiber, Bunny Hop is actually a brilliant contender for socks. Reading my mind, Crystal Palace has put two free sock patterns for this yarn on its Web site: Speckled Rib Socks and Bunny Hop socks, both of which only require two skeins. You could also use either a multi or solid color for a lovely baby blanket or sweater.

If the world were my oyster, I'd love to experiment with another rendition of Bunny Hop—perhaps Big Bunny Hop—with twice the angora. Would the extra fiber bring out the telltale angora halo, or does this type of superfine cable spin innately inhibit it? And would the additional fibers behave with the synthetics, or is there a reason why they were added so sparingly? These are questions I'd love to explore.

But for now, I'll content myself with the knowledge that we have an intriguing and inexpensive cable-spun machine-washable blend on its way to stores.

 

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