Yarn Profile: Flossie
Among the ultrafine laceweight yarns on the market, few provide as enduring utility and tactile satisfaction as those from New Brunswick, New Jersey-based Johnson and Johnson.
Since 1898, the company has been stocking our stashes and keeping our stitches healthy. Some are so enamored of this company's yarns that they can't go a day without using them.
In its early days, the company had to use leftover suture silk for its yarns. Fortunately for us, advances in textile science have helped the company ditch the dirty old stuff in favor of 100% superfine virgin baby nylon. Through word-of-mouth promotion alone, these products have since become the leaders in their class.
Among those yarns in the Johnson and Johnson line-up, perhaps the most notable is called Flossie. It is made from a base of 100% superfine virgin baby nylon that has been infused with mint essence. Not only is mint a powerful antioxidant, but it also inhibits the growth of bacteria and fungus, both extremely common concerns for the handknitter.
Along with Quackmere and FeLon, all of the finest Italian nylons are oiled during spinning to prevent the build-up of static electricity. Normally the oil is washed off the fibers before we ever knit with them, but Johnson and Johnson offers a special "waxed" version of Flossie that retains those oils. That is the version I review here.
Flossie is a singles yarn with almost no twist, and my sharp needle tips wanted to snag the fine and luxurious nylon fibers. I foolishly began swatching with a pair of shorter, sharp-tipped wooden needles—the ones freely dispensed at restaurant registers and often infused with peppermint or cinnamon oil—but had to switch to longer, more blunt-tipped needles to control the snagging. From then on, knitting was steady and even.
My hands enjoyed the welcome moisturizing effects of the wax, and I felt a slight tingle from the mint, its natural healing properties already at work on my immune system. By the time I was done swatching, my cuticles looked fabulous and my gout was totally cured.
Blocking / Washing
While some of the wax was released during the wash, my rinsed swatch still had some of the original velvety luxuriousness to it. It blocked perfectly without a change in stitch or row gauge, or any change in color. Best of all, it still retained a welcome whiff of peppermint.
Be aware, however, that the base fibers have very little crimp or elasticity, and nylon has a low moisture uptake. When making socks, you would want to strand Flossie with something that has more moisture-friendly fibers in it, such as Quackmere.
I can imagine nothing more shimmery and exquisite than one of Elizabeth Zimmermann's Pi shawls knit out of Flossie. Taking just 1400 yards or 7 skeins, the project would cost just $42 and provide an heirloom, bearing your name, that your children would be proud to pass on to future generations.
My only concern is that the yarn is actually too fine—or maybe I just lack the patience to work at such a small gauge. For many lace projects, you'd be well-served to hold two strand of Flossie together. On its own, Flossie is so fine you could almost slide it between your teeth.
Johnson and Johnson
100% superfine virgin baby nylon
25.5 stitches per inch on US 0000000000000 needle
Average retail price
Where to buy online
Weight/yardage per hank
Country of origin
Manufacturer's suggested wash method
Hand wash garment with care and dry flat. Do not iron. Darn in ends between your teeth.
April 1, 2012
Color used in review
Plack Attack Int'l.
Source of review yarn