Hand Maiden Sea Silk
Sea Silk is a laceweight yarn from Hand Maiden, the luxury fiber arm of Canadian hand-dyer Fleece Artist. The yarn contains 70% silk and 30% SeaCell®, a relatively new fiber manufactured by the German company Zimmer AG. SeaCell® is actually composed of 95% lyocell, a fiber manufactured from the cellulose in wood pulp. (It's sold in the U.S. under the trademark name Tencel—ring a bell?) The lyocell fiber is then "activated" by 5% seaweed.
Zimmer AG claims that the seaweed and its trace elements of calcium, magnesium, and vitamin E are naturally released onto the skin of the wearer. Lacking my own laboratory I can't really address those claims or offer suggestions as to how long those trace elements might remain in the fiber or how they might be affected during the dyeing and washing process, but there you have the official story of SeaCell®. If there's 5% seaweed in SeaCell®, and 30% SeaCell® in Sea Silk, I calculate (correct me if I'm wrong) that Sea Silk has about 1.5% seaweed in it.
Eager to see if the yarn was worth the fuss, I cast on and started testing.
The yarn invites lacework, so I played more with other stitches as well. Although both fibers are firm and inelastic, they cooperated easily with most of the typical lace maneuvers I tried—although the k5tog decrease was pushing it.
There is one peculiar trait to this yarn, however. I noticed it even as I was winding my hank into a ball before knitting. Periodically along the strand I found tiny wisps of white fiber, almost like pills. They were made more noticeable by the yarn's otherwise smooth, fluid surface. Most were easy to remove, although some put up a fuss. I have no idea what these are, but they were definitely noticeable.
Blocking / Washing
There was no change in color saturation or in stitch gauge. I did notice that the wet swatches had a strong fragrance. The yarn already has a distinct silk scent that is dramatically amplified when the yarn is wet. Some people have said the yarn smells like the ocean, but—being familiar with silk and living on the coast—I speculate that it's more likely the silk you're smelling. As the swatches dried, the fragrance subsided a little.
Because of that smooth surface, brilliant shimmer, and relaxed drape, I see this yarn performing best in a shawl—perhaps Evelyn Clark's Flower Basket Shawl (available from Fiber Trends and originally in Interweave Knits' Fall 2004 issue), Eunny Jang's Print O The Waves stole, or even Polly Outhwaite's Kiri shawl. The gorgeous hand-dyed Hand Maiden colors benefit from the larger canvas of shawls where you can really see the interplay of the hues. And the fabric is soft, luminous, and relaxed—three qualities you want for anything wrapped around your shoulders.
Hand Maiden Fine Yarn
28 sts per 4 inches on US2 (3mm) needles
Average retail price
Where to buy online
Weight/yardage per skein
100 g. / approx. 437 yards
Country of origin
Hand-dyed in Canada from imported fibers
Manufacturer's suggested wash method
Hand wash only.
Color used in review
Hand Maiden Fine Yarns