I love yarns that surprise you in the wash. They make the whole knitting experience much more fun, forcing you to wait until the final blocking for the big reveal.

I had high hopes that Coast would be one such yarn. How else do you explain a dense little puck of yarn that feels like cotton but is actually 55% Merino?

The secret has to be in residual spinning oils that will come out in the wash, or with the constrained wool fibers held under tension and just waiting for warm water to relax. Either option means we’ll have a puffy and ethereal fabric once it’s done.

But I had no way of knowing for sure unless I swatched.

Knitting Up

A beloved staple in Europe, Holst Garn Coast is finally finding its way into U.S. stashes. If you buy direct from Denmark, as of this writing it’s $4.15 for a 383-yard cake ball. In the U.S. it’s a little more, to factor in the import and store markup, but it’s still among the lowest prices you’ll find for a yarn made of all natural materials. The website is in both English and Danish, and my package arrived quickly and without incident. You can also order directly from The Yarnery here in the U.S. if you want to avoid international ordering altogether. [I have no financial affiliation with any of these stores, I just want to help you find the yarn.]

The color range is vast and exquisite. I counted 88+ colors on the Holst Garn site. The yarn gets its heathered coloring from the fact that it was dyed with a material that only reacted with the wool. Look closely and you’ll see little wisps of white, which are the cotton fibers.

The yarn really does feel like cotton, or even a cotton/linen blend. Two plies are loosely twisted together, with no significant bounce or body. Knowing how those yarns can get slippery on metal needles, I picked a pair of bamboo ones with a little grab to help my stitches stay in place.

As I worked, I could see that wonky and irregular stitches had very little bounce to hide behind. I tugged my swatches to and fro, and hoped that things would even out in the wash.

Held single, my yarn didn’t snag or split, and I encountered no knots or weirdness in any of my skeins.

Yarn held double

Holst Garn gives a suggested gauge for two strands held together, so I played around with that option too. Each strand is so distinct, and the gauge so tiny, that I couldn’t trust knitting by touch alone. I had to keep my focus on my work.

Blocking / Washing

The label says hand wash cold, but I started with a warm bath to force out any residual oils and cause whatever bleeding might possibly happen.

Unwashed (left), handwashed (right)

My swatch went in, absorbed the water, and was quickly submerged. There was no bleeding in the wash, only a wispy kind of grey residue that turned into translucent flecks after a few hours. (Any chemists in the house who can explain why that happens?)

I set out my swatch to dry, being careful to block it to shape and smooth everything out, and then I waited. It dried flat, balanced, and beautiful, with just a hint of relaxation and bloom. Not nearly as much as I’d expected.

The yarn is also listed as machine-washable on the gentle cycle. Just for the fun of it, I knit another swatch and tossed it in with my regular laundry using warm water, and I put it in the dryer too.

Handwashed at left, machine washed and dried at right.

The swatch emerged just a tad tighter than the handwashed swatch, shrinking about 1/2 stitch per inch, with a minuscule bit of puckering here and there. But it gained a fabulous density and fluffiness that I’d want in a sweater.

Wearing

This yarn opens up all sorts of possibilities for people in warmer climates to make and enjoy wearing beautiful handknits. The color range and two-ply construction makes it ideal for lace or patterned shawls as well as garments with stripes or blocks of color work, with the shades all harmonizing with one another. But even in an all-over solid, it’s lovely.

In terms of feel, the wool was barely detectible except in the swatch I’d tossed in the washer and dryer. Even then, the predominant feel was the dry powderiness of cotton, but with the bounce of wool.

Try as I may, I couldn’t produce any significant destruction in my swatches. When subject to excessive friction, they just continued to soften and bloom.

Conclusion

We’ve determined that Coast doesn’t completely go “poof” in the wash. What’s noteworthy then?

For starters, the fabric did change, but it was a quieter softening and filling of stitches that, I imagine, will just increase with wear. The color range is stupendous. And the price will be hard to beat, even if you’re paying a retailer markup. Those are three pretty powerful positives.

Should you wash the yarn before knitting with it? I wouldn’t go to the trouble. It’s fine as-is, unless you really want a touch more body while you’re working.

In the bigger picture, Coast belongs in an ever-growing category of beautiful yarns that give some of the pleasures of wool while still providing warm-weather comfort. Like Shibui, Coast can be stranded with other fine-gauge options to make whatever fabric ecosystem your climate requires.

Since temps are on the rise and not all knitters can live in Maine like me and wear their winter woolens 10 months of the year, these yarns are a blessing.

Fast Facts

Yarn Name: Coast
Manufacturer: Holst Garn
Fiber content: 55% lambswool Merino, 45% cotton
Gauge: 26 sts per 4 inches (10cm) on US 1-2 (2.5-3mm) needles. Held double, approx 21 stitches per 4 inches (10cm) on US 6-7 (4-4.5mm) needles.
Average retail price: $4.15/skein
Where to buy online: Holst Garn, and The Yarnery
Weight/yardage per skein: 50g cake balls have 383 yards (350m); also available in 500g cones.
Country of origin: New Zealand and Argentina (thanks to Linda G for this information!)
Manufacturer’s suggested wash method: Machine wash cold, do not bleach, dry flat. Low iron, dry-clean with any solvent except Trichloroethylene (though I recommend hand or machine wash instead).
Review date: 4/2/18
Color used in review: Sapphire, Silvery Grey, Old Gold
Wholesale distributor: I do not know.
Source of review yarn: Purchased retail from Holst Garn
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Latest comments
  • I just swatched this yarn this week myself – as you say, knitting from the skein doesn’t really do this yarn justice. I put it into a warm/cool machine wash, and let it air dry – and got all the bloom you mentioned with the washer/dryer. I’m in love!
    Link to my instagram photo:
    https://www.instagram.com/p/BhE_ycngjT8/?taken-by=revknits

    • Oh my gosh your swatch is BEAUTIFUL! What is the name of the pattern? I clicked on the designer’s profile, but her account is private.

  • Considered worsted weight?

  • What a timely review–my next project is using the Holst Garn Coast yarn! Thank you for confirming my choice!

    Ellen

    • I’m so glad! Also, good taste in yarn! 😉

  • I love this review and learning about another wool/cotton blend. I went to their website and I see that there is also an option to get a put up of 500 grams which is pretty exciting for larger projects. I have a family member that has specifically requested a wool/cotton blanket and this sounds as if it fits the bill. Thank you!

  • For those of us who love knitting wool but dislike knitting cotton (so little elasticity, it’s uncomfortable on my hands!), would you recommend this? It sounds like it behaves more like cotton.

    • Good question. I fall into your camp where cotton is concerned. This yarn definitely behaves more like cotton than wool, but I didn’t really notice much hand cramping. This might be the one case where, if you’re really sensitive, it’d be worth reskeining and washing to maximize the wool as much as possible. It’s lambswool, so it’s going to be finer and flatter, but the elasticity is always ultimately there.

      • Thanks, Clara! I’ll give it a shot and make something for my cotton-loving kiddo. 🙂

  • This looks wonderful! What is the name of the blue color you swatched with? Is it kind of a denim color in real life? (I’m envisioning a nice little summer cardi in my near future!)

      • Thanks!! Can’t wait to get my hands on some!!

  • The Holst Garn website states that the Country of Origin is New Zealand and Argentina

  • This review was extremely helpful to me in a variety of ways. As a grandma I like knitting for my granddaughter but no matter how many wash directions I send things end up in the wash machine. Most of the time dried flat but not always. Some cute felted doll clothes as a result. Dad frequently does laundry! For that reason I want to knit more cotton sweaters but don’t always like the drape or end result. Plus I love wool. I have looked at many cotton/wool blends but they all have said hand wash, which until reading this review I did not question. Sometime I am just too literal. So I am excited to knit my little Josephine something with this yarn. Secondly, I am going to try swatching other cotton/wool blends and experimenting by putting them in the wash. Thanks for your detailed review.

    • I’m so glad! This is why I love to knit swatches, because I can wash them in worst-case-scenario ways to see what would ultimately happen. Knowing that things will still look good no matter what, it eases your stress AND that of the recipients. 🙂

  • Fantastically wonderful article! I am definitely ordering some of this incredible yarn. And all the colors… OMG!!

  • I, too, value your experiences & posts. Thx! I’ve just placed my order too.
    The marled shade of Cassis – brownish/red, plum is just what I’ve been searching for.
    And in long yardage cones!
    And Wool/Cotton blends – LUSCIOUS!
    I have a feeling this will be my new favorite – I hope they’re shipped quickly!

    • Thank you! That color is going to be gorgeous.

  • I will try this knitting yarn, but I am also wondering about weaving with this. It would make fantastic baby blankets, the care being paramount for anything baby. Excited to try it.

    • Has anybody else tried weaving with this? I know that as a weft it’d be fantastic. I can tug it apart in my hand (not super easily but not with great effort either), so I don’t know about warp?

  • Certainly enjoyed your review. Early last year I saw a sweater knit with Coast. Loved it so I ordered two 500g cones. I never saw any follow up on how the yarn survived dry cleaning or washing. It is still marinating in my stash and will come out of hibernation. Look forward to seeing what knitters choose to knit with it. Thanks Clara.

    • Hooray for yarn coming out of hibernation! Have fun with it!

  • Thanks for the great review! I love Coast and have used it for several projects – but I have never tried machine washing it! We have sold this yarn for several years now at my Canadian yarn store, Wet Coast Wools (wetcoastwools.com), and it has become a great favourite.

  • I’d bought some of this yarn last year, because I live in one of those latitudes where the heat and humidity are a seven month challenge. The color is gorgeous, but the yarn looked so frail, I was afraid to work with it. You’ve given me courage.

    • I’m so glad! Let me know what you think when you start working with it.

  • I buy what appears to be the very same yarn at my local yarn store under the name Queensland United. I have used it for several projects and have been very happy with it.

    • Fascinating, Leslie – thanks for the heads-up! I’ll have to check that out and see what the connection is.

  • I ordered this yarn last year based on the Yarniacs podcast discussion of the versatility and value. A fairly large charge on international order will cause your credit card to lock up, just sayin…..But it is wonderful for the climate change we’re experiencing will give these garments a lot more wearability. Holst also makes pure wool yarns in similar kettle dyed effects in crazy affordable prices that I took advantage of. Cones for weaving are irresistable to me. I’m really looking forward to a lot of garment making in these wonderful fibers.

  • Thanks Clara! I have been looking for durable fingering weight yarn that is not superwash but can still be worn next to skin. I live in the Pacific Northwest so like the idea of cotton/wool blend for seasonal wear but don’t want to sacrifice the elastic memory of wool. I ordered enough Coast for a cardigan based on your review. I would love your thoughts on their other yarns.

  • The wholesale producer is actually British: https://www.knollyarns.com/

  • Thanks Clara! Your review has pushed me to purchase this for my first jumper. However , what do you have to say about the stitch definition of the swatch ? Does it show the ribbing or textured stitches nicely? Thanks !

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