If the single were spun too tight, it would cause the fabric to tilt, or bias, in the direction of the excess twist in an attempt to release it. Spun too loosely, the yarn simply wouldn't hold up with wear. But plied together with two or three other plies, you'd have yourself a pretty good yarn.
But then I got a package from Punta del Este introducing their new yarns from Uruguay, and it included this single-ply yarn made from 80% Merino and 20% cashmere. My hands were so happy touching it that I decided perhaps I should put my ply theory to the test and see if it's really true.
In this case, the Merino is 19 microns, which is very soft—I'd classify it as superfine. Mind you, Merino can go finer than the 19 microns, but this is still very good. By comparison, quality cashmere will average 16 microns.
Each skein holds a generous 260+ yards of yarn. Sometimes the more loosely spun short-staple fibers will stick together on the skein after they've been dyed, making ball-winding a somewhat tedious process. Such was not the case here. I was able to spread the hank on my lap and wind it into a ball without need of a swift and ball winder (of course those would make the winding go faster, but I was in no rush).
The label gave no recommended needle size, but the press materials indicated a suggested size of US 5 (3.75mm). Fairly quickly I could see that a US 5 produced far too open and loose a material for my taste, so I switched to US 4 (3.5mm) and the fabric pulled together nicely. I also figured that the tighter the fabric, the greater its resistance to abrasion would be.
Knitting was smooth and reasonably easy, although I was not able to knit by touch alone. Each time I tried, I ended up snagging a portion of the loosely spun fibers instead of the entire strand. When I did so, those fibers came loose from the rest of the strand and puffed out of the fabric. For this reason I also wouldn't recommend using needles with extremely sharp tips, since that's only asking for trouble.
My stitches appeared for the most part even, although faint differences in the yarn's own thickness and degree of twist did show up as slight irregularities in the knitted fabric. This is typical with single-ply yarns, but I suspected that the irregularities would even out a bit in the wash.
Blocking / Washing
The swatches blocked beautifully, rendering fluid and cohesive pieces of fine, thin fabric. The yarn wasn't spun tightly enough to create a bias—all the swatches, in both stockinette and textured stitches, held a perfect shape.
The more friction they experienced, the more blurred they became. Some yarns produce popcorn-like pills that are easy to remove. Mericash produced more vague and well-attached clouds of excess fiber along the fabric surface. Pulling them off upset the fibers that were still firmly rooted in the fabric, so I'd recommend testing a sweater shaver and seeing if it works any better.
This worn look would be perfectly fine for any kind of scarf, which would also let you enjoy this delicate softness around your neck. Or you could use it for mittens or fingerless mitts as long as you knit the fabric on smaller needles for a firmer material. I wouldn't use Mericash for socks by a long shot, except for perhaps a special pair of supersoft warm bed socks that never see a floor.
As I was working with Mericash I kept thinking how fantastic it'd be for a very special keepsake baby gift—a sweater, or perhaps a hat and bootie set. Definitely not a baby blanket, which needs to be far more durable (and machine-washable, ideally). By the time the garment starts to show any signs of wear, the baby will have long outgrown it and it'll be safely packed away in the archives.
Colors in Mericash run from saturated solids to space-dyed hues (these yarns have a semisolid look rather like the kettle-dyed colors in Malabrigo) and hand-painted colors (these are pleasantly harmonious hues, not the usual jar-of-jellybeans color fiesta that turns to mush when you knit it up).
And there's no denying the price, $16 for 263 yards—a good deal for such a soft merino/cashmere blend. Were you to knit a women's sweater (with a 40-inch bust) using Mericash, you'd need some 2,000 yards, or approximately 8 skeins. That keeps the bill under $130.
Given the yarn's quick tendency to pill, however, I wouldn't go that route. Instead, I'd probably get three skeins and knit myself a truly luxurious scarf. (When you're wearing a scarf, you get to enjoy the soft fabric without seeing the pills!) Perhaps Vyvyan Neel's Argosy or Evelyn Clark's Shetland Triangle from Wrap Style, something I could wrap around myself when I need a fiber hug.
Punta del Este Yarns
Label says 29 sts per 4 inches (10cm) but omits any needle size. The accompanying marketing materials suggested a US 5 (3.75mm) needle, which gave me 25 sts per inch. I switched to a US 4 (3.5mm) needle and achieved a more snug 28 sts per 4 inches (10cm)
Average retail price
Where to buy online
Check the vendor's Web site as this yarn is still making its way to stores
Weight/yardage per skein
50g / 263 yards (240m)
Country of origin
Manufacturer's suggested wash method
Dry clean or handwash with neutral soap in cold water, dry flat, do not press.
Color used in review
Punta del Este Yarns