Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Introducing: Fyberspates Cumulus!

I have a treat to share with you today!

Fyberspates, a lovely hand-dye luxury yarn studio based in the UK, has a new yarn to announce, and I get to be part of the party. So excited!

It all started out a few months ago with a tweet...

Seriously, this is why I got a Twitter account in the first place. I happened to be online at just the right time, clicked through, found the Ravelry thread, and signed up in a jiffy. And what do you know, I was selected to be in the first batch of testers!

The Yarn

When my package arrived, I was shocked at how light it was. "Cumulus" is a perfect name for this new base - it really is as light as a cloud.

Ready for my close-up!

From Jeni:

Cumulus is made up of 74% Baby Suri Alpaca and 26% Silk blend that comes in 25g balls of 150 metres [164 yards]. This Light Fingering/ Heavy Lace weight yarn is a wonderful alternative to Mohair with its’ fine ethereal halo.

As you can see in the close-up above, Cumulus has a strong, solid silk core (which is un-dyed) that wraps around fluffy bits of loose alpaca fibers. This gives a very interesting textured appearance. With more rustic fibers, such a marl could could very casual and rustic; but with these luxury fibers the resulting yarn knits up into a shimmering, multi-dimensional work of art. As a newbie spinner I found this fascinating. Is this possible to do by hand? If you spin, please let me know! The yarn is indeed very strong - after knitting, ripping back, and yanking the yarn through beads that were a bit too tight, I was very impressed with Cumulus's strength and durability. It bounces right back after all of that and looks as good as new.

My goodness, this yarn is soft. It's absolutely delightful. I've been showing it to my friends and family as I've been knitting away and without fail everyone is stunned when they feel it. My teenage brother, who has unusually good taste in yarn for being a non-knitter (and a teenage boy, to boot), almost wouldn't give it back and said that if he had a whole sweater made in it, he would "probably die of comfortableness". He also requested that he be buried in it when the time comes. Melodramatic, but it was a hilarious scene trying to get it out of his hands.

Knitting with Cumulus

Now, I have to confess, I have not yet knitted with Kidsilk Haze or any of the other mohair/silk yarns, so I can't make comparisons to those. I do love alpacas and was quite excited to see their lovely fiber being used in the same way. Be aware that this is Baby Alpaca, so even if you've experienced "prickle factor" with other alpaca yarns, this may be an exception. I'd encourage you to try it out.

Knitting with Cumulus is a bit surreal. I've worked with other lace yarns before, but not with a haloed yarn like this. I could barely feel it passing through my fingers as I knit. This makes tension interesting - I knit continental, and found that I did not have to apply much pressure to keep it from flying away. The halo provided enough friction against my fingers that I didn't need to 'squeeze' the yarn to keep it taut enough to work with. Speedy, easy-on-the-hands knitting ensued.

This photo really shows off the impressive amount of halo. If you tease it just a bit, it will stay puffed up like this until you move it. My only caution for knitting with this kind of yarn is that tinking back (un-knitting) can be difficult. Since it is so grippy, I found it much easier to pull out the needles entirely and tug the yarn gently to unravel stitches as needed. They stayed perfectly formed and were ready to pick up again without any trouble.


Jeni quite generously sent 3 skeins, as well as coordinating beads to make Karie Westermann's Florence scarf, which has been reworked and re-launched to feature exactly 1 skein of Cumulus.

You can modify the length of the scarf to be longer (use more yarn) or wider (add extra repeats), so you can really customize the pattern to suit your preferences and amount of yarn. I knit it exactly as written, and only had a few yards left (shown above in the halo picture).

Florence's lace pattern is simple and easy-to-memorize, so it would be suitable for a beginner lace knitter. Despite the halo, Cumulus has excellent stitch definition, so it's easy to see where you are in the pattern and know what comes next. Directions are given in charted and written form. Beads are added as you knit, by threading a live stitch through a bead and then knitting it to secure. Knitters often use a small crochet hook for this, but I didn't have one small enough so I used a dental floss threader. Odd, but it worked just fine :-)

I've been teasing with closeups on Instagram, but now it's time for Florence to make her full debut.

Here she is!

Viewed backlit, you can see straight through the material. It's quite ethereal! I love the addition of beads - it grounds the airy fabric just enough to give it a bit of heft. It will stay on your neck, but it will still flutter in the breeze.

Cumulus takes blocking most excellently. Even several days later, after lugging around in my bag for photos, the points at the edges are perfectly crisp and the width hasn't changed at all.

Before and during blocking, via Instagram

Perfect points
Beethoven is lookin' stylish.

Since Beethoven has a bit of a large head, I thought you should see Florence on a real person as well, to get a sense of scale.

I love this outfit. However, it is not to be - the yarn arrived a day before my mother's birthday, and shamefully this daughter had neglected to consider a present. Terrible! But the yarn arrived, and I showed my mother, and she loved it. I showed her the pattern I was to make and it just so happens that this is exactly the kind of accessory she likes - beautiful, simple, elegant, and not overpowering. Happy Birthday, Mom!

For myself, I think the other two skeins are destined to multiply and become a lovely soft pullover, such as Tule. A couple folks have told me that the skeins look like Tribbles, and I *so* wish that were the case. I would not mind at all if they hid in a corner and multiplied on their own. There are two other gorgeous shades of grey in the Cumulus collection, so I'm debating purchasing more of this gray (Slate) or pairing it with one or both of the other grays (Water and Silver) to make a subtle stripe. Please weigh in in the comments if you have any suggestions!

If you'd like to make a Florence of your own, you can check out the pattern page here, as well as Karie's other designs.

Be sure to check out Cumulus, and all of Jeni's fabulous yarns, on the Fyberspates home page.

Raveled here.

Jeni, thanks again for the opportunity to test-drive your newest yarn. It is simply stunning and I will certainly be back for more!


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