A Tale of Two Twinkles:
Prism Super Dazzle and GGH Alida

a skein of Prism Super Dazzle
Prism Super Dazzle
A skein of GGH Alida
GGH Alida
Click each image to enlarge

Just like people, no two yarns are alike. They may seem identical on the outside, but once you start working them up, you'll notice their subtle differences.

Take these two yarns, for example. On the store shelf, they could have been identical twins. But once I began knitting them up, their differences quickly emerged.

Super Dazzle Detailsa close-up of Super Dazzle
Super Dazzle is custom-dyed for Prism, a Florida-based company that specializes in unusual yarns. Made of 100% Nylon, the yarn ships in 1-ounce, 90-yard hanks priced at $16.50 apiece. You can find it online at Velona Needlecraft.

At its center is a strong knitted tubelike core from which translucent sparkly "lashes" protrude. Each lash is slightly crinkled, but if pulled firm would measure approximately one inch.

The colors are rich and deep, with dye covering both the core fiber and the translucent lashes. Gentle hue variations produce a slowly flickering flame-like effect.

For this review, I used the color Embers.

GGH Alida Up Closea close-up of Alida
Alida is made in Italy for the German yarn company GGH (Garn Bro▀handel Hamburg) and distributed in the U.S. through Muench Yarns. You can buy it online through WoolWinders.com. It comes in plump little 25g. skeins, each of which holds 77 yards and retails for $8.99.

Like Super Dazzle, Alida is not of a uniform color. It quickly pops from dark to light in one- to two-inch increments, producing a lively flickering effect that could almost border on blotchy.

Alida has a knitted core fiber similar to Super Dazzle, except it is much more loosely knit. Inch-long crinkled translucent strands extend from the core along with fine, shiny "hairs" that do not vary in color with the rest of the yarn. For this review I used the color 202.

Knitting Up
Prism Super Dazzle knit up
  A swatch of Prism Super Dazzle
Both yarns were equally easy to knit up, although they had distinctly different hands. Super Dazzle has a dry, silklike feel rather like a rumpled sheet of tissue paper. Alida has a moist, bouncy feel similar to that of a Nerf ball. Both make a slight crinkling sound when touched.
Prism provides no recommended needle size on the yarn label, but I had good luck with 5mm needles. For a firmer fabric, go down at least one needle size. GGH recommends using 4.5mm needles, but I chose more generous 5.5mm needles to give the lashes plenty of room to move around.
Super Dazzle has no bounce or elasticity, producing a lightweight fabric with moderate drape. Alida, on the other hand, produces a thicker, squishy fabric with bounce and elasticity, but at the expense of drape (of which there is very little).GGH Alida knit up
  A swatch of GGH Alida
Both yarns produce a complicated, furry fabric that's hard to monitor in terms of stitches. For this reason you'd be best advised to stick with simple stockinette or garter stitch. First, keeping track of your stitches amid the chaos will be a challenge. And second, any surface decoration is almost entirely obscured by the fluff and sparkle.

Novelty yarns normally maintain their out-of-the-box beauty for only a brief period of time before they begin to grow dull -- both literally and figuratively. But I was surprised at how well these two aged.

Prism recommends dry cleaning only, but with both yarns my swatches survived a lukewarm bath (with mild soap, brief and gentle squeezing, lukewarm rinse, and blotting on a towel) perfectly. Once the swatches dried, I gave them a quick shake and they were fluffed back into business.

The only words of caution: Any encounter with an iron will destroy all your work (and possibly make a big mess of your iron); and any encounter with harsh detergents may strip the threads of their sparkle, so stick with gentle handwash soaps instead.

Possible Incarnations for Super Dazzle
Drape or no drape, both of these yarns are visually stunning, especially when held up in the sunlight. One passer-by, upon seeing my Prism Super Dazzle swatch, remarked, "If you could spin smoky quartz into yarn, this would be it."

Prism's relaxed body makes it especially fitting for a scarf, shawl, or stole where drape is more important than structure. I can also see it paired with another yarn that has more body.

As a garment in itself, however, it may quickly lose its shape. Another reason to use it for smaller items: You're paying $16.50 for 90 yards of yarn.

Three Cheers for Alida
Alida may not be as remarkable as Super Dazzle in swatch form, but its bounce and body beg to be made into a larger garment. At almost half the cost of Super Dazzle, an Alida sweater won't break the bank, but it will still be striking and elegant.

In fact, I can imagine making a cropped evening jacket with Alida for that next big Hollywood awards ceremony I haven't been invited to attend.

Where to Buy Online
Prism Super Dazzle: arrow Velona Needlecraft
GGH Alida: arrow WoolWinders.com
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