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A skein of Superior
Superior knit up
click each image to enlarge
Yarn Profile:
Filatura di Crosa Superior

First Impressions
I didn't even know you could make a brushed cashmere until I saw this yarn's bulkier predecessor, Aiko. At that time I remember gasping and grabbing several skeins to swatch without bothering to check the price tag.

Well, my swatches turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. To the touch, that yarn was (and still is) pure unadulterated heaven. But when I tried to knit with it, the yarn behaved like an indignant Siamese cat being forced to do something against its will. It had no intention of obeying my needles and becoming cohesive fabric. It just sat there, limp, waiting for me to go away.

Fast-forward to the beginning of this week when I received a box of new Filatura di Crosa yarns for fall. My eye scanned the skeins and immediately stopped at this yarn. More brushed cashmere! But this time they did it right. They slimmed it down to a lace weight and paired it with slinky, shimmery, substantial silk at the core. I gasped, I grabbed, I swatched.

Superior is so new that they haven't even printed labels for it yet. You probably won't see it at your LYS for several more months. But you need to be prepared. And if you are as susceptible to cashmere as I am, you may want to keep some smelling salts handy.

Knitting Up
Brushed yarns have typically been the domain of mohair or, more recently, alpaca. Both are lustrous long-staple fibers that lend themselves nicely to a little roughing up. But cashmere is a delicate short-staple fiber with a powdery appearance.

While Superior is somewhat similar to Rowan Kidsilk Haze, the comparison only goes as far as their both being lightweight brushed yarns with a silk core. Where Kidsilk Haze has an almost icy luster, Superior retains a more mossy look, but with a shimmer poking out from beneath. (Here's a swatch with Kidsilk Haze on the top and Superior on the bottom.)

I started swatching with slick aluminum needles but couldn't finish my cast-on row, the yarn was so slippery. I switched to Addi Turbo Lace needles, whose fine resin coating helped the yarn adhere to the needles. Still feeling like something was lacking, I moved on to Crystal Palace bamboo needles. Bingo! Then I moved from simple stockinette to more elaborate lace patterns, and the yarn performed beautifully with each stitch.

Some brushed mohairs and alpacas have long clumps of loose fiber that can snag on your needles and produce irregular stitches if you aren't careful. The cashmere fibers in Superior are so short and delicate that there were no such snag problems while knitting. It was tricky to undo, however. You'll want to think twice before frogging an entire project made from this yarn.

Blocking / Washing
Since the labels haven't even been printed for this yarn yet, I had no wash instructions. I guessed lukewarm water with mild soap, and the results were fine. There was no visible bleeding or dramatic change in swatch size, only a general "coming-togetherness" of the finished fabric.

My swatches dried almost instantly. Those that had been washed didn't show a significant bloom compared to the equally fuzzy unwashed swatches.

Wearing
While the silk does give some substance and drape, Superior is still fundamentally so lightweight and ethereal that you almost can't feel it against your skin. To give you an idea of just how lightweight and ethereal we're talking, think of this: Kidsilk Haze and Superior knit at comparable gauges and come in skeins that weigh 25g. Yet a skein of Superior holds 330 yards, while a skein of Kidsilk Haze—which uses heavier mohair fibers—holds only 227 yards.

This yarn knits up into paper-thin translucent swatches. But the minute I put them against my skin I could feel them warming up. The cashmere halo traps still air and retains body heat beautifully.

In terms of touch, this Superior is sinful in its quest for full-body contact. I can't imagine a more heavenly yarn for a knitted camisole. Or for more public attire, one skein would make a glorious little lace scarf that you could wrap around and around your neck. But a word of caution: You'll never want to take it off.

Conclusion
Before I grab my skein of Superior and walk off into the sunset with it, I should give you a little reality check. Superior is not a yarn for all things—it's not at all thick or rugged, it has very little elasticity, and it would be deeply unhappy if you tried to make a pair of socks out of it.

But within the realm of feather-light, lace-weight, fuzzy yarns made from sumptuous fibers, it lives up to its name in every respect. And within that same realm, at $25 per 330 yards, it's a steal.

 

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