Yarn Profile: Alchemy Yarns Kozmos
Kozmos blends a lustrous silk with wool and a slightly slubby single strand of cotton, and then it wraps the whole thing very loosely with brushed mohair and what appears to be more silk. I'm not quite sure what's what in here; I just know that the end result is unusual and intriguing.
It may be little surprise that this yarn comes to us from Gina Wilde at Alchemy Yarns—she's the same person who brought us Wabi-Sabi, Haiku, and Juniper. Hers are not out-of-the-box generic yarns. Each is carefully constructed over a period of months (if not years) during which she might ask the mill to rework the product dozens of times until it's just right. Even in the yarns I may not be drawn to, I always appreciate this level of commitment.
Because Alchemy Yarns is all about hand-painted fiber, the yarns are evaluated not only for their visual qualities but also for their ability to serve as a canvas for dye. And that's where Kozmos strikes into new territory. It's the first Alchemy yarn to feature cotton.
A cellulose fiber, cotton takes dye differently than protein fibers such as wool and mohair. Instead of changing her dye process to achieve a uniform color across all fibers, Gina decided not to fight the cotton and just let it do its thing. This is why some of the colors have a fairly uniform saturation, while others take on a more variegated look that makes Kozmos even more intriguing.
I knit with the pointiest tips I could find, my Signature Needle Arts needles with a stiletto tip. Surprise surprise, as long as I kept my eyes on my work, the yarn behaved just fine. The minute I took my eyes off my work, the knitting grew more difficult.
Because the brushed mohair and multiple strands make this a somewhat tricky yarn to unravel, you'd be well-advised to keep your eyes on your knitting. And if you tend to get carsick, this may not be the yarn for your road-trip projects.
But the yarn's need for attention isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's gorgeous to watch. Its surface texture, sheen, and color saturations change slightly from inch to inch. One moment, you see something shining. The next, everything is concealed behind a mohair halo. Back and forth it goes.
My skein had one knot in it.
Blocking / Washing
Brushed mohair yarns are among the scariest to wash because they look horrible until the fabric dries again. Don't despair if your fabric looks like a wet cat. Be gentle, reshape it as much as possible, and let the drying process work its magic.
Once dry, a gentle tousle will open up the brushed mohair fibers and rejuvenate the halo.
My swatch did not bleed or fade in the wash, nor did its row or stitch gauge change. It dried into a smooth, attractively cohesive fabric.
Wearability is where the cotton comes in handy because cotton cools down the insulating qualities of the mohair, wool, and silk. The resulting fabric has a more even ecosystem that keeps your body temperature somewhere comfortably in the middle.
In terms of durability, that's where things get more tricky. This yarn knits up at a gauge of 4 stitches to the inch, which gives a lot of space between each stitch. You want the space, so that the mohair can stretch its legs and give you a gorgeous halo; but it will also result in a rather diaphanous project. And most diaphanous garments aren't expected to withstand the same amount of wear and tear as, say, an everyday sweater.
And yet Kozmos wears remarkably well. Even after a sustained period of friction, I saw only faint clusters of mohair that were easy to dislodge.
Each 125-yard skein of Kozmos costs $29. I'd be sorely tempted to try Ysolda Teague's Peak's Island Hood in Kozmos. You'd need four skeins, bringing the bill to $116.
Or you might be able to tighten up the gauge enough to make an extraordinarily decadent February Lady Sweater. A medium would require eight skeins, bringing the tab to...gulp...$232. But boy, it'd be one beautiful sweater.
Note from Clara: One month after this review was published, we learned that the weight/yardage on these skeins may still be in flux. The put-up of Kozmos may have changed from 125 yards/55g skeins to 119 yards/45g. The price remains the same, but each skein may contain 6 fewer yards. We're still looking into this.
4 sts per inch on US 9 needles (5.5mm)
Average retail price
Where to buy online
Weight/yardage per skein
45g / 119 yards (109m)
(Current as of April 2010)
Country of origin
Hand-dyed in U.S.
Manufacturer's suggested wash method
My skein had no label, but I would recommend a very gentle hand-wash in lukewarm water with mild soap, blot with a towel and lay flat to dry away from heat or direct sunlight.
Color used in review