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.