No, don’t throw me in that cashmere patch!

I don’t know about you, but I have noticed a rise in the number of cashmere-blend hand-dyed sock yarns recently.  As far as I can tell, this falls into the category of Good Things, especially since, for the most part, they fall into the same general price range as other wool and wool/nylon hand-dyed sock yarns.  I was shopping online at The Loopy Ewe this past weekend, with a $25 Loopy Groupie credit burning a hole in my shopping cart, and of course I had to spend at least $75 so as to avail myself of the free shipping.  So 3 different hand-dyed cashmere-blend sock yarns followed me home (via US Priority Mail).  First, I was, as always, tickled by the personal note, this time from one of Sheri’s “elves,” since she’s out of town this week.

And also the treat (although I like it best when it’s Hershey’s Kisses):

Oops, they're all gone!

Then I unwrapped my cashmere-laced goodness.

Here we have three sock yarns from three dyers.  Two of the put-ups (the Skinny Bugga! and the Djinni Sock) are the same yardage.  All three have the exact same fiber proportions: 80% superwash merino, 10% cashmere, and 10% nylon.

They all feel different.

Fiberphile‘s Merino Cashmere Sock (listed on Ravelry as MCN Sock) has less yardage than the other two, in the same weight, and so is a slightly thicker yarn.  It feels the softest of the three in the skein.  Djinni Sock from Dragonfly Fibers is almost as soft, and has 450 yards per 4 oz skein.  The Skinny Bugga! from The Sanguine Gryphon feels like it’s more tightly spun.  I don’t think that, if I picked this up off the shelf without reading, I would think there was cashmere in here.  Interestingly, I have another skein of this yarn in another colorway, and it feels much softer.

What could cause this difference in hand?  One possibility is that the mill has changed up the base, using a wool that’s not as soft.  (I would assume that the label is accurate and there really is 10% cashmere in there.)  Or perhaps the dyer has changed mills.  Or, even more intriguingly (to me, anyway), is the possibility that the dyeing process itself has caused the difference in softness.  My other skein of Skinny Bugga! was purchased in May 2010, and is a different colorway, Orchid Mantis:

It’s very soft.  I will be interested to see whether the Sooty Dancer blooms when hand washed and becomes softer…but not right now.  I’m up to my ears in TKGA Master’s swatches and life.  It’s the time of year that parents (mostly moms!) fill out annoying camp forms and chase after pediatricians to force them to fill out more forms.  Maybe once summer is underway (and I get a vacation!) I’ll sacrifice a few yards of Sooty Dancer to Science.

If there are any dyers out there reading this, your insight would be appreciated.  I did contact one indie dyer (not Indie Dyer!) and the above musings on yarn bases and dyes are mostly hers.  I’ve contacted The Sanguine Gryphon to ask for her thoughts on it, although it was a challenge, since there is a statement on the website that all contact must be made in verse!  What fun.


About The International Knitter of Mystery

If I told you about me, I wouldn't be The International Knitter of MYSTERY, now would I? But I can tell you that "Danger" is my middle name.
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