FiberStories: CoBaSi

  • 55% Cotton, 16% Viscose from Bamboo, 8% Silk, 21% Elastic
  • 220 yards (201 meters) per 50 gram hank
  • Available in Sock, DK and Plus weights
  • Made in Taiwan

In 2007, skacel collection, inc. , the wholesale distributor of  addi, Schoppel Wolle, and Zitron Yarns in the USA, found that despite representing over 150 yarns, there were still products that customers wanted that were not available on the market.  With this in mind, they decided to create their own line – and the Hikoo® brand was born. 

One of the first goals for this new brand was to create a wool-free sock yarn. The design team got together (they are all avid knitters and crocheters) and began to build a prototype on paper on what would be the perfect sock yarn – without any animal fibers.  Of course the biggest concern was what is referred to in the industry as "memory".  Sheep’s wool, as well as most other animal fibers, have good memory, meaning after being stretched out the fibers will return to their original shape. Other natural fibers, such as plant based fibers, do not do this.  Making a pair of socks out of plant based fibers usually leaves one disappointed, as the socks continuously fall down the leg and stretch out.

UNLESS, of course, you add in elastic. 

So there was a start – a plant based fiber mixed with elastic. Hemp, Flax and Linen were all considered, and although these fibers are  strong, none of them are really soft on the skin. The team wanted durable and comfortable. That left cotton, as a synthetic was out of the question. So, cotton was specified, and a sample of a 90% cotton and 10% elastic yarn was requested. One would think this would be perfect, as most socks  purchased at the store are a cotton and elastic mix, usually around 95% cotton and 5% elastic, but it was not. Socks were knit from the sample, and unfortunately, the blend ended up not only being a bit rough on the foot, but the 10% elastic did not keep the sock up on the calf for very long!

Back to the drawing board.

The next go around, the elastic percentage was raised to 15%, and bamboo was added for softness. Once more, when the sample arrived,  socks were knitted – and they were better – but not good enough. They still pooled around the ankle after a few hours. So it was back to the drawing board.

Again.

The next sample had 20% elastic in it, 60% cotton, and 20% bamboo.  When it was delivered, socks were knit. And, they actually stayed up on the leg! They were not stretching out! But, the socks lacked luster, and seemed rather dull. Shine was needed. Where do you find shine?  The team already felt they had too much synthetic in the blend with the 20% elastic, so it had to be a natural fiber.

Enter Silk!

Silk is strong and has a glossy sheen, so the cotton content was reduced to 50%, the bamboo and elastic remained at 20%, and 10% silk was added.

When the yarn got to Skacel, the team got to knitting socks.  And this time they felt great on the foot, they didn’t slouch at the ankle, and they had just enough sheen to reflect a little light. The team thought they had it.

But no.  The silk was making the yarn too expensive.  So they lowered the silk content to 8%, lowered the bamboo to 16%, and raised the percentages of the cotton and elastic, to 55% and 21% respectively. 

The samples arrived, socks were knit, and they were perfect!  A new yarn had been developed. 

Now – came the tough part – what to name it. After a few weeks of deliberation, it was decided to that since the yarn has so many different components in it, to shorten them all, sort of like abbreviations used on a chemistry chart – and call it Cobasi Cotton (co), Bamboo (ba) and Silk (si).  The elastic part was not mentioned in the name, but no one seemed to miss it... although if it wasn't there, we'd be back to square one. 

So there you have it. The story of CoBaSi and how it came to be. Who knew that developing yarns took that much effort and research! And now that it has been a while since CoBaSi first came out, there are DK and Plus weights as well.

The weather here is cold and snowy, so we decided to share this fun photo from the Socks Appeal Boxers pattern. Want to make some amazingly comfy boxers? We know the perfect yarn. 

FiberStories: Das Paar

  • 75% Merino Wool, 25% Nylon
  • 459 Yards per 100 grams
  • set of two identical 50 gram hanks
  • Self Patterning
  • Made in Germany
  • Featured yarn in the January  Sock of the Month box!
Image of Katie Rempe

I cannot wait to share with you the reasons why I love Das Paar by Schoppel-Wolle! Oh, by the way, my name is Katie and I designed the January Sock of the Month for Maker’s Mercantile!

My Wintertime Socks were a perfect pairing for Das Paar. I, like many others, love it when my socks actually match, but it’s not always that easy! Since I don’t have a fancy 

meter machine at home, and love to make two-at-a-time socks, splitting one ball into two can be a challenge! The same goes for trying to start your second sock in the exact same place where you began the first one, ugh! Luckily, Das Paar does all the work for you!!

Packaged in an unassuming hank, Das Paar becomes TWO 50 gram hanks when taken apart! Plus, there’s no mystery as to where to begin as the starting points are knotted together, ensuring you’re off to a perfect start (and finish!)

This sock yarn is tough, built to withstand the washing machine and the dryer. Best of all, it comes in 7 amazing colorways. Yes, please!! I hope you will enjoy knitting with this yarn as much as I did!

-Katie

The Unboxing Video

Contents of the Sock of the Month Subscription Box January 2020
Wintertime Socks

Frida Peacock Part 3

Eat, Knit and Dye

On to the next in the Peacock Fade Set series! Since Part 1 and Part 2 already established the bookends of the Fade Set, it’s time to start worrying about the middle skeins. Because one side is Yellow and Light Green, the next one in the series will be Yellow/Light Green/Green/Blue.

For my base for all of them, I will be using Frida. It’s a 100% Merino Wool Superwash with 16 microns of softness. It’s so super-duper soft, and just touching it during the dyeing process is luscious. It will make the most luxurious sweater.

For my dye colors across the entire Peacock fade, I mixed jars of it at once with 1 tsp of citric acid per color. I dyed everything on the same day too, but you’ll have to be patient to see the finished product!

With Jacquard Acid Dyes, I used:
• Yellow – Sun Yellow
• Light Green – Chartreuse (with a touch of Spruce)
• Green – Kelly Green
• Blue – Brilliant Blue
• Purple – Violet

The skein of Frida soaked for 30 minutes before the dyeing process. I’ve noticed that so much of dyeing is how you place the yarn into the pot. I haven’t tried this placement before, so I was eager to see how it looks. I held onto one end of the hank and lowered the yarn in an open collapsing of yarn.

Which left me with a heap of yarn in my pan. I added quite a lot of water. The yarn was completely submerged and slightly floating.

I applied the yarn in a bullseye pattern starting with the center. Because I am using yellow, I made the middle section way bigger than usual. Yellow is the one color that gets swallowed up by pretty much any other color.

Around the Yellow, I put a thin ring of Light Green. Around that, I put a ring of Green. And then on the edge of the pot, I put a ring of the Blue. (See how the Green is creeping into the Yellow?)

I let the dye exhaust, so the water was clear. Notice how much of the Yellow was eaten up by the Green?

Using the shower ring, I picked up the hank of yarn and was not shocked to see how much bare yarn was present.

I re-collapsed the yarn into the pot with the bare side up.

I repeated the Bullseye Ring dye application and let the dye exhaust. The yarn was cooled to room temperature, rinsed and hung up to dry.

It’s such a lovely marbled watercolory look. I love how the colors flow all over the place. It’s an excellent addition to the fade set.

Stay tuned for next week where I try more experimental yarn placement.

Ready to make your unique colorway? Hop on over to Makers' Mercantile® and pick up your undyed yarn and supplies. We can’t wait to see what you make, so tag us on social media with #makersmercantile!

About Tara
Tara Warburton is the former graphic designer for Makers' Mercantile® and a fine artist. She specializes in watercolor and colored pencil illustrations. She lives with her two cats, who are not helpful when knitting.

Tara Warburton's Frost Fairy

FiberStories: Zitron Filigran

  • 100% Superwash Merino Wool
  • 656 Yards (600 meters) per 100 gram hank
  • Single Ply
  • Made in Germany

First... where'd the name come from? Filigran translates roughly to "filigree" which is a term that describes the delicate threads used to decorate the garments of royalty in years past. Often crafted of gold or precious metals, these fine threads created the timeless motifs we now view in museums. 

Keeping the delicacy of the thread in mind, Atelier Zitron developed a yarn that is strong, supple, and lightweight. The super soft merino promises to stand the test of time; holding intricate lace stitches in place and creating heirloom garments.

Let's take a moment to chat about the manufacturer of this gorgeous yarn. The process Zitron uses to craft their products are environmentally friendly, and dyed in accordance with Oeko-Tex Standard 100. That means their processes were tested by Oeko-Tex for harmful substances and every component (from the dyes, to the fibers) were found harmless in human ecological terms. Tests are conducted by independent partners, and the criteria for certification is updated annually.

Want to try your hand at lace knitting with some of the highest-quality yarn available? Try Zitron Filigran. We have selected three patterns (above) to offer inspiration. Want more project suggestions? We invite you to visit the work of renowned European lace designer Monika Eckert HERE.

Frida Peacock Part 2

Eat, Knit and Dye

Last week I tried dyeing with a jar and liquid dye. This week I’m going to find out what happens with dry dye. (Spoiler alert: It’s a bit of disaster!) This part of the Peacock Fade Set (Last week was Part 1).

For my base for all of them, I will be using Frida. It’s a 100% Merino Wool Superwash with 16 microns of softness. It’s so super-duper soft, and just touching it during the dyeing process is luscious. It will make the most luxurious sweater.

For my dye colors across the entire Peacock fade, I mixed jars of it at once with 1 tsp of citric acid per color. I dyed everything on the same day too, but you’ll have to be patient to see the finished product!

With Jacquard Acid Dyes, I used:
• Yellow – Sun Yellow
• Light Green – Chartreuse (with a touch of Spruce)
• Green – Kelly Green
• Blue – Brilliant Blue
• Purple – Violet

In the jar, I added a ½ teaspoon of citric acid and 1/8 tsp of the Brilliant Blue dye powder. I don’t know why I added more citric acid. I’m sure I had a reason, but I can’t remember what that reason was.

The yarn had been soaking in water. I wrung out the skein and squished half of it into a jar. I added 1/8 tsp of the Violet dye powder directly onto the yarn. I squished in the rest of the yarn.

Slowly, I added water into the jar until it was up to the brim. I capped it and set it aside.

After a while, I checked on the yarn and I wasn’t happy at all. The color had barely moved. It was going to look awful.

To confirm my fear, I pulled out the yarn to see what was happening. The purple was laying in a blob of color and there was barely any blue. And a whole lot of bare yarn. This would not do!

Taking the yarn out of the jar, I added ½ cup of water and let the blue dye dissolve. Then I squished the yarn back into the jar. With my finger, I made a divot in the top of the yarn and added more purple dye powder.

More water was added to the jar. I also kept poking at the yarn with my finger to help the purple dye move down further.

That’s better! There is at least some color now! I think when using the dry powder, I shouldn’t have wrung out the yarn before I added it. It might work better that way. 

The yarn sat for another hour before hopping into the pot with the other jar from last week. As a reminder, the water was brought up to simmering for 20 minutes. It was cooled overnight in the pot.

I rinsed out the yarn and hung it up to dry. It turned out pretty cool. I’m certainly glad I went back and added more water into the equation. It kept it from being a blob!

And now I have the bookends for my Peacock Cock Fade set.

Stay tuned for next week where I work on the middle of the set!

About Tara
Tara Warburton is the former graphic designer for Makers' Mercantile® and a fine artist. She specializes in watercolor and colored pencil illustrations. She lives with her two cats, who are not helpful when knitting.

Tara Warburton's Frost Fairy