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a skein of Luscious Single Silk
Luscious Single Silk knit up
click each image to enlarge
Yarn Profile:
Blue Moon Fiber Arts Luscious Single Silk

First Impressions
Maybe it was the weather—a foggy Maine morning that smelled of sweet ferns and blooming roses. Or the pan-pipe sounds of the hermit thrushes echoing up from the woods. Or the fact that I was still tired from my trip to a place where there was nothing but yarn for days and days on end.

Whatever the reason, when I opened a box of yarns from Blue Moon Fiber Arts this weekend, the world suddenly stood still. Skein after skein of extraordinary colors and textures slowly came out of the box, each lovingly hand-dyed by Tina Newton, and I was reminded of why I've dedicated my life to yarn.

For most people, Blue Moon Fiber Arts is Socks That Rock. And while her sock yarns are a core part of her business, they are creatively only a small portion of what she's capable of doing with dye. Her colors—which run the gamut from strikingly variegated to serene semisolids—translate exquisitely onto other fibers and twists and plies.

While looking through that treasure box of yarns, I kept coming back to Luscious Single Silk. It's a worsted-weight single-ply blend of Merino and silk that comes in pillow-like 500-yard hanks. Such generous yardage is not only useful from a knitting perspective, allowing the slow subtle color shifts to unfold on your needles without the interruption of skein changes, but it is also a physically beautiful object in itself.

Knitting Up
The Merino and silk have been intimately blended so that they look and behave as one, with the exception of a very rare silk slub that was easily removed. But from a knitting perspective, remember that any loosely twisted single-ply yarn will be the nemesis of sharp needle tips—and it's true for Luscious Single Silk as well. My relatively dull-tipped bamboo needles provided a near snag-free experience and gave the yarn something to hold snug.

Note that I said "near" snag-free experience. The fineness of the Merino and silk fibers means that you'll have more fibers to manage in each strand. With a little focus I was able to knit swiftly by touch alone, but occasionally my needle would miss a wisp of fiber in the strand I was trying to knit and I'd have to stop and carefully re-do the stitch.

Since this kind of yarn doesn't want to live by stockinette alone, I finished my standard swatches and then knit up a Maine Morning Mitt on size 6 needles to see how it felt about ribbing. It was very happy. The silk shimmered while the Merino kept everything stretchy and snug.

Blocking / Washing
The silk definitely helps hold this yarn together in the wash. My swatches stayed cohesive throughout washing and rinsing, and the color did not bleed one bit in the warm soapy bath.

The swatches required a bit of tugging to and fro to get them back into a suitable blocking shape, and they took forever to dry. Both of those things are a direct result of the silk content.

There was a very small change in gauge after washing. My swatches expanded by about 1/8th of a stitch per inch—not cause for too much concern unless you're knitting a large fitted garment.

Wearing
The presence of silk allows this yarn to function with almost no twist whatsoever—giving you what feels like a fluid stream of fibers unmarred by shadows from a ply structure. Unless you tend to yank your yarn with exceptional fervor, there is very little chance you'll tug the yarn apart as you knit.

The silk also reinforces the shorter Merino fibers so that they hold together better with wear. But make no mistake about it, a single-ply anything won't hold together as well as a yarn made up of multiple plies, because each ply acts as reinforcement.

After a medium period of abrasion, the surface of my swatches began to show signs of weakening. The tighter swatch that I knit with size 5 needles (instead of the recommended size 6) produced a firmer fabric that held up much better to the abrasion, but the swatch knit on size 6 needles felt much more soft and supple—even though it surrendered to wear more quickly.

Conclusion
The Merino and silk fibers in this yarn are very fine in terms of softness and quality, but for me the real story—as with any yarn from Tina—would have to be the color. She got her start with explosively variegated colorways, and they remain her trademark. But she is just as skilled, if not more so, at evoking depth and emotion within a single hue or two.

That's part of what drew me to this skein. Painted on the shimmery silk and matte Merino, the colors were vividly reminiscent of a pottery glaze—at once earthy and ethereal.

At $30 per 500-yard hank, the price on this yarn couldn't be better. It knits up at the same gauge as Manos del Uruguay's Silk Blend (which is 30% silk and 70% Merino) and, in a pinch, Noro Kureyon—opening up a host of creative possibilities in terms of suitable patterns.

One could argue that the generous yardage becomes a disadvantage when you don't need all 500 yards. For example, a simple medium-sized women's sweater would run you about 1300 yards, which translates into three skeins and a $90 bill, and it leaves you with 200 yards of unused yarn.

First, I've never heard a knitter complain about having too much yarn. Second, and more to the point, this is a yarn you won't mind having in your stash for emergencies. When gift-giving season rolls around again, those 200 extra yards would make you not one but two beautiful pairs of Maine Morning Mitts.

 

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