I have a dilemma. I love Whimzy’s yarns, and I recommend Twisted MN for the Slipstream patterns. But I don’t want share a review of Twisted MN until I can share photos of the MKAL samples! So, as a compromise our next review is of Whimzy’s unique Sokkusu O, so at least I can share expert dyer Ling’s beautiful colours.
This yarn review is by Robynn Weldon, who is best-known for setting up luxurious Purlescence. Since handing over the reins of one one my favourite online yarn stores, Robynn has been spending more time with her young family and…writing. Robynn casts her expert eye over Sokkusu O :
The thing about hand-dyed sock yarns is that, for such an individual product (no two skeins the same! EVER!), after a while they can start to seem… well… a bit samey. Sure, the dyer’s art distinguishes one brand from another (and that highly personal touch is why we love them), but most dyers tend to source their bases from the same major suppliers; so from one Etsy shop to the next, you see dozens of colour variations on the same basic yarn. And it’s usually a superwash merino. And there’s nothing at all wrong with that. But underneath the make-up, they’re all much the same.
Sokkusu O isn’t more of the same.
It’s 100% superwash merino, 380m/415yds per 115g – plus sets of minis and juicy 150g skeins are also available. Like all superwash merinos, it’s warm, soft, non-itchy, and of course (gently) washable. But the texture is strikingly different. Merino is smooth: this is extra smooth. Merino is bouncy: this is amazingly bouncy. It’s custom milled and it’s highly distinctive stuff.
Sokkusu O (for Original) was brought into this world by Alice Yu, founder of London’s luxury knitting shop Socktopus. Big life changes led her to shut up shop, but she passed the reins of the dyeing business to her friend Ling, who has added more yarns and colourways. Lovely as they are, my heart belongs to Sokkusu O, always; it’s just so different.
The magic is in the twist: three plies wrapped so tightly around each other as to make a super-sproingy, perky, smooth yarn that just begs to strut its stuff with some fancy stitchwork. Other “high-twist” merinos generally feature a two-ply construction, making for less rounded yarn. The much coveted Wollmeise goes to the other extreme with nine super-fine plies tightly wrapped; the result is extremely smooth and robust, but lacks bounce. I’ve also seen a fair few three-ply merino sock yarns, lovely and smooth and almost like Sokkusu O – but none with Sokkusu’s tight, energetic twist.
Besides the elasticity, that twist has one more gift to impart. Like other soft fibres, merino asks you to trade durability for luxury. Adding a good twist, though, goes some way to counteract that. Sokkusu is much more resistant to pilling than your regular merino; and while without nylon, merino socks will never be the kind you can wear and wear for years, Sokkusu will hold up a lot better than most.
And (strangely, to my mind) it’s something of a well-kept secret. No update stalking required; just visit the Whimzy website and browse through the extensive range of colourways (I count over 60 at time of writing). They range from richly saturated almost-solids to intriguing variegateds, with a fair few colourways inspired by film or TV shows.
What to make?
Sokkusu is so well-behaved, it could go almost anywhere. I wouldn’t use it for lace – picture that sproing factor just bursting to fill in the holes! – but it’s absolutely heaven sent for cables or textural stitches of any kind. Leave It To Me would be a perfect fit. It also creates perfect, smooth stocking stitch; my two skeins of Fontainebleu and Lime & Basil (a vibrant teal and zingy green, respectively) might just be destined for a cheery Stay Awhile wrap. And when I accumulate too many remnants, from the many hardwearing, colourful Sokkusu socks I see in my future, I rather fancy a scraptastic Trust Me.
Thank you Robynn for such an insightful review. Next on the blog? See you on Tuesday 1st July for the first clues in the MKALS!