piper_skein_largeFor generations, farmers in Texas have raised some extraordinary wool and mohair. We don’t hear much about it because the fibers tend to be sold en masse to the textiles industry.

In recent years, however, the ending of government subsidies, severe drought conditions, and low-cost international competition have conspired to destroy what fiber industry remains in Texas. But, as this yarn proves, the story is far from over.

Knitting Up

Piper is a 50/50 blend of superfine Merino and super kid mohair, both of which have been sourced in Texas. The fibers have been intimately blended and then twisted into a smooth, single strand of continuous fiber.

piper_swatch_largeTechnically Piper is a “singles,” a yarn construction so unsuited for solo use that its name is in the plural. The cardinal rule of yarn is that twist equals energy, and here, in this singles, is very little energy indeed. On paper and in theory, it shouldn’t work.

Yet it does, surprisingly and rather splendidly.

Knitting with Piper was smooth and easy. On the needles, the mohair dominated. The yarn felt smooth and lustrous with almost no bounce.

The 50% wool became apparent as soon as I start swatching a lace motif that required more fussy manipulation of multiple stitches. (The stitch in the photographed swatch is the Lace Pattern from The Knitting Dictionary and Encyclopedia by Nomis.) What seemed inelastic was quite happy to stretch and flex, gripping my slippery Addi Turbo Rockets without once being snagged in their pointy tips.

piper_swatch_block_largeBlocking / Washing

My swatch relaxed instantly in its warm soapy bath, taking on the feel of a wet tissue. I swished and squeezed vigorously. Both the wash and rinse ran clear immediately.

Blocking was a matter of laying the swatch on a towel, squeezing out the excess moisture, and then tugging all the stitches into place. The fabric was happy to go where I asked it, and it blocked flat and in perfect shape.

Wearing

The mohair in Piper is tender and luminous. From a touch perspective, I felt no scratch or irritation whatsoever—and I went around with my swatch tucked under my shirt all afternoon. Only at dinner did I realize it was still there.

With abrasion, my swatch grew softer and the surface halo increased without ever reaching the fuzz level of, say, brushed mohair. But, and there’s always a “but,” it’s important to remember that this is a singles, and it contains fibers with a fine (i.e. fragile) diameter. After vigorous abrasion, the wool finally gave up and began rising to the fabric surface at a different rate than the mohair, appearing in easily removed clumps. Another reason to stick with shawls and scarves for your Piper.

Conclusion

As I understand it, the ending of government subsidies forced a pretty significant shakedown in the American fiber world, but especially for mohair producers. Farmers who’d been paid regardless of the quality of their fibers faced a choice: eliminate the flock or refocus on quality. Many chose the former, but luckily for us (and for Quince & Co.), some chose the latter and have stuck with it.

Piper is a gorgeous and refreshingly unique yarn that presents the possibilities of mohair in a fresh light. The fact that it also happens to have been entirely sourced and spun in this country is an added bonus that makes the $14.25 price tag well worth it.

Aesthetically speaking, the combination of softness, heavenly drape, tender halo, and luminous sheen make Piper the yarn equivalent of a pearl necklace. It’s made to adorn and shimmer. As a shawl, you could wear it every day without worrying about significant wear and tear.

Visually, Piper’s single-ply construction renders stockinette, lace, and textured stitches with equal panache. When matching yarn to pattern, just remember that the more wear the garment sees, the more structure you’ll need in your stitches. By structure, I mean tighter, more cohesive stitches that combine knits and purls. In something as decorative as a shawl, the world is your oyster.

Quick Facts

Yarn Name
Piper
Manufacturer
Quince & Co.
Fiber content
50% superfine Merino
50% super kid mohair
Gauge
6-7 stitches per inch on US 3-5 needles
Average retail price
$14.25/skein
Where to buy online
Quince & Co.
Weight/yardage per skein
50g / 305 yards (279m)
Country of origin
Made in the USA of Texas fiber
Manufacturer’s suggested wash method
My skein had no label, so I recommend gentle lukewarm wash and rinse, dry flat away from direct sunlight.
Review date
9/11/2014
Color used in review
604 (Sweetwater)
Wholesale distributor in the U.S.
Quince & Co.
Source of review yarn
Quince & Co.
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