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A skein of Fibra Natura Mermaid
Fibra Natura Mermaid knitted up
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Yarn Profile: Fibra Natura Mermaid

First Impressions
Some yarns have skein appeal, while others don't reveal their true potential until you start knitting with them. The third category—yarns with skein appeal that translates into actual knitting appeal—is decidedly smaller. Mermaid is one such yarn, holding your attention from skein to swatch.

Made from a base of Pima cotton (42%), Mermaid also includes superwash Merino (35%) as well as a dusting of silk (12%) and SeaCell (11%). SeaCell is actually a blend of 95% Tencel and 5% seaweed extracts.

Pull the yarn apart and you'll initially see two plies of yarn. But pull each ply apart and you'll see yet another layer of construction: Two two-ply strands of yarn (I'm guessing the cotton and Merino) are loosely plied with a stream of nearly unspun fiber whose bright shimmer suggests silk and SeaCell. The plied strands have a lighter dye saturation while the stream of nearly unspun fiber has a deeper hue, despite its sparkle.

When the two lighter two-ply strands and the darker unspun fibers are stranded together, and then those plies are further stranded together, it gives the finished yarn a wavy candycane effect. Having sat through the Broadway production of "The Little Mermaid" with my niece last summer, I can say that this yarn actually does also remind me of the scales on their shimmery mermaid costumes.

Knitting Up
I had to keep an eye on what I was doing because of the yarn's multiple ply, spun and not-so-spun components. I throw the yarn with my left hand, which tends to un-twist the plies as I knit, increasing my risk of snags. Every row I'd let go and run my fingers down the yarn to re-establish the twist, which seemed to do the trick.

Sharp-tipped needles brought instant woe, but knitting was smooth and easy once I moved to blunt-tipped bamboo. The surface drag of the bamboo also gave the fibers something to hold, helping me maintain an even tension.

Stitches appeared smooth and even from row to row. The candycane variegation makes the yarn look like a simple two-ply, but that barely spun strand in each ply actually creates a plump and well-rounded material that makes beautiful ribbing, textured stitches, and even garter stitch.

The label suggests a gauge of 4 to 5 stitches per inch on US 7-9 (4.5-5.5mm) needles. I got 4 stitches per inch on US 7 needles and could've easily gone down a needle size or two for a firmer fabric. Just be sure to swatch first, and don't be afraid to go "off-label" to get the right fabric.

Blocking / Washing
My intensely dyed swatch released a hint of color in the wash, but the water ran clear after just one rinse. After its wash, my swatch was much more relaxed and cohesive, with a healthy bloom across the surface—thanks to the unspun fiber portion of the yarn.

While the wet swatch had relaxed and expanded quite a bit, it returned to its original size after it had fully dried. There was no change in gauge or color saturation, just a nice, even piece of knitted fabric.

I should note that although the yarn contains machine-washable Merino, it is not listed as machine-washable. Perhaps they chose this particular type of Merino for aesthetic purposes, perhaps it was simply a matter of cost and availability.

I was a little worried how the unspun component of this yarn would hold up under abrasion. Sure enough, after a medium degree of agitation faint pills began to form all along the fabric surface. Some came off without a fight, others required more delicate surgery to remove. They never became extraordinarily huge, but they did create a blur across the fabric surface—more visible up close than from afar.

From a touch perspective, this yarn produces a soft fabric that didn't cause any prickle against my skin. It has a cool and rather dry feel, but it warms up quickly (and significantly) against the skin.

By containing fibers that straddle seasons—cotton for summer, wool for winter—Mermaid is an interesting yarn choice for garments that transition you from one season to the next.

A shawl will require at least six skeins, starting the tab at $66. A medium-sized women's pullover will take about 1200 yards, or 11 skeins—with a tab of $121.

Some might say that's a little high for a yarn with only 11% silk, but this yarn's unique fiber blend and twist composition makes apples-to-apples comparisons rather challenging. For what it is, Mermaid is a nice yarn. It has a comfortable hand, gives beautiful definition to your stitches, and it adds a shimmery, flickering, underwater visual effect to the finished fabric.

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