Today is the first in what will be a regular feature on the Inspiration Knits blog: yarn reviews. I am delighted to welcome our APlayfulDay, our first guest reviewer:
I’m thrilled to be the first guest to share my thoughts on some of the yarns that Louise features in her designs. When Louise and I first discussed the idea of yarn reviews and looked at the many lush and varied yarns she’s worked with, she suggested I take the lead with Fyberspates as I’m lucky enough to have worked with my fair share. First up on this list is Vivacious 4ply and one of my favourites in the Fyberspates range.
Fyberspates began life as a one woman indie operation with Jeni hand dyeing yarns from her own home. Realising that there was a demand for repeatable, easy to access luxury yarns, Jeni developed a commercial range that complemented her hand dyed range. By collaborating with the mill in order to teach them how to hand dye her beautiful colourways, the result is readily-available colours in big enough quantities for sweaters.
Vivacious 4ply is a high-twist, Superwash, 100% Merino yarn. The skeins are 365 metres (399 yards) per 100 grams (3.53 ounces). At £13.55 per skein, this is a yarn without the enormous price tag but all the hand dyed appeal.
The fact that Vivacious 4ply is superwash so can be thrown in the washer on a 30 degree wash AND has a hand dyed look, makes this a very user-friendly luxury yarn. Within this Vivacious range is Vivacious 4ply and Vivacious DK (the bigger sister to the 4 ply), both with 18 repeatable hand dyed colourways. Vivacious offers a high twist yarn that wears well and gives great stitch definition while still giving all the hand dyed satisfaction of the rest of Jeni’s yarns.
So let’s talk about the yarn itself shall we? Merino is the ultimate softie and for those sensitive types, this is the fibre content I’d recommend next to your skin. Merino as a fibre is crimpy and lofty which means when it’s worked into a yarn, you get an elasticity that helps stretch in garment. Why is that helpful? Think about the stretch you want from socks or a garment that hugs your body shape in a flattering way. The downside of all that elasticity and fineness however is a yarn that isn’t as hardwearing as something with a silk or nylon element added.
This is where the high twist of Vivacious 4ply comes into its own. The tightness with which it’s spun not only makes an incredible stitch definition (hello cables) but it also helps give this merino yarn a greater ability to cope with everyday wear. If you love the idea of smooth, sproingy cables, Vivacious and Louise’s Ironbridge Cowl are the way forward.
The colour of Vivacious 4ply is one of the biggest pulls for me. Merino is bright white as a yarn so colours, especially at the light end of the spectrum, just sing. See for example the Sunshine colourway. See Louise’s Raymi mitts if you need further convincing on this one. The skeins are so appealing at first glance as they’re soft and squishy to the touch, as well as full of colour and depth of tone. I’ve never had a problem winding Vivacious 4ply either which makes me love it more. Something about the high twist just means it skims along happily on the ball winder until it’s caked and ready to GO.
On the needles, Vivacious 4ply is my kind of yarn: round and easy to scoop stitches from one needle to the other- this is perfect for a novice knitter. I tend to work with metal, slick, sharper needles and combined with this yarn, I feel like an F1 knitter. It’s not so slippy that I’d urge caution with less experienced crafters either. In fact, I’d say this would be a good introduction into what good quality yarn should feel like: slick on the needles and great stitch definition in the fabric you work up. No knots or tangles and definitely no unexpected learning curves. I like rustic wools but really? I’m a big softy and my hands like the treat of Vivacious when I knit.
Once you’ve finished the knitting, the treat doesn’t stop. Vivacious blocks really well. I use a wool wash and hand soak it despite the washing machine safe element. Why? It just guarantees that I’m not going to have a colour that fades over time. After a few washes, I get braver and start throwing it in the washing machine but for the first block, I like to work it by hand and watch it smooth out from the wrinkly mess I began with, stuffed in my knitting bag.
Thus far, I’ve never had a problem with pilling and being a busy mum who goes out in all weather, my hand knits can take quite a battering. In an ideal world, I’d have a little nylon in there so I could use this for socks without the fear of it wearing through at the heel but I’ve just decided that it’s ok to have extremely special house only socks so that my Vivacious stash doesn’t feel sad. My top recommendations for this yarn would be lightweight garments, kid’s knits and handwarmers and HATS.
Louise asked what I’d substitute for this yarn at different ends of the budget spectrum. For just a few pounds more I’d be looking at The Uncommon Thread’s Uncommon Everyday yarn that has the same tight twist but a little more yardage and Ce is just a genius with colours. On the budget side of things, I’d probably go for Debbie Bliss Rialto 4ply as this is the hardest wearing, high twist merino fingering that comes to mind.
This yarn has a huge list of independent designers providing pattern support (Inspiration Knits being one of them!) as Jeni actively encourages designers to work with her yarn. The other thing that I love about Fyberspates is that due to Jeni’s roots as a dyer, she’s very committed to her customers and attends lots of shows, has a very active Ravelry group and blog. You can also follow Fyberspates on social media such as Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.
Vivacious 4 ply is a soft and durable option for those crafters who want something soft and hand dyed without the horror of pilling or blowing the yarn budget. It’s perfect for garments, accessories and baby knits and easily available from a huge list of stockists.
Louise has worked with Vivacious for a number of projects including her latest release, Spice Route. I always love to see Vivacious showing off great details, however, so I would work a skein up into the Leaving collection: dainty mitts and a cute hat with leaf motifs? Perfect with that stitch definition and rich colour.
Thank you to APlayfulDay for today’s wonderfully in-depth yarn review.