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Rowan Mohair Haze
Rowan Mohair Haze once knitted up
click each image to enlarge

Yarn Profile: Rowan Mohair Haze

First Impressions
If I am perfectly honest, my first impression of Mohair Haze went something like this. My eyes locked on it, I gasped, I reached out, pulled it toward me, and didn't let go. I was in the middle of a convention center at the time, at TNNA, and Linda Pratt was walking me through the new yarns from Westminster Fibers.

We went from shelf to shelf, but I wouldn't let go of the Mohair Haze. It's a miracle I didn't felt the poor skein with all that fondling.

Yesterday, I received a few skeins of my own for swatching. Enough time had passed since that first encounter for me to see the yarn for what it is: lush, succulent, unusual, and irresistible. Also? A little demanding.

Knitting Up
Mohair Haze enters the market as a cousin to Rowan's infinitely addictive Kidsilk Haze. They share the same 70% superkid Mohair DNA, but from there things change dramatically.

While Kidsilk Haze fills in that remaining 30% with silk, Mohair Haze fills it with extra-fine Merino wool. Perhaps the bigger difference is in the twist. Kidsilk Haze is twisted with a tight "binder" thread of silk and then brushed to produce a well-anchored halo of fluff. It loves to be knit on larger needles than you'd think, and it positively purrs when stranded with most any other yarn.

With Mohair Haze, on the other hand, the mohair and Merino have been blended together into one mix that's been spun into a fine singles. Two of those singles are then twisted very loosely against one another, giving us the finished yarn. You still have a halo, but it's the byproduct of a loose twist and ply with an innately halo-happy fiber. Because this is superkid mohair—remember, the younger the animal, the finer the fiber—the halo is moan-inducingly soft.

But the looseness of that twist and the lack of a binder thread bring challenges you won't find in Kidsilk Haze. Pinch the fibery halo surrounding the skein, pull, and you'll feel the fibers come loose. Here's the sign that the yarn needs your needles and stitches to provide structure that'll hold those fibers intact. You won't want to use larger needles than the US 2-3 recommended on the ball band, no matter how tempting it might be. Well, you can, as long as you understand that this will likely result in fiber movement under abrasion.

While the 30% Merino is an excellent addition for body and stability, it isn't enough to make this a bouncy yarn. It wasn't as slippery as silk, but it definitely benefited from the drag of wooden needles. To avoid snagging, I made sure to choose needles with blunt tips.

But I couldn't quite knit by touch alone. I kept feeling that I'd miss something.

Like a beautiful pair of shoes, this is a somewhat high-maintenance yarn. Not in a bad way, just the kind of way that requires you to be present and attentive while you knit. The payoff is getting to hold exquisite fabric in your hands.

My stitches had an occasional wobble from tension irregularities, as you'd expect from any smooth yarn. Otherwise the stockinette was fairly even. I worked stockinette because that's what I do with my reviews, but after about three rows my hands wanted to work garter.

It's impossible to overstate just how exquisite Mohair Haze is in both garter and seed stitch, not just the fabric but the knitting experience leading up to it. Believe me, and swatch for yourself.

Blocking / Washing
With brushed mohair, washing is a traumatic experience that always produces something akin to a wet cat. But the 30% Merino jumped in and saved the day. My swatch emerged from its warm soak still plump and full of character. The yarn left a vague hint of blue in the wash, but rinsed clear immediately.

With some tugging and prodding, my swatch blocked in perfect shape. I could not detect any change in gauge, nor was there any dramatic change in halo. The stitches, however, looked much more even.

Wearing
Movement brought up the halo. The more I flogged, the more exquisitely the fabric bloomed. But be not fooled: This is the yarn equivalent of those fine Italian shoes you don't want to wear in the rain. It isn't a workhorse, nor do I expect it was intended to be such.

The same succulence that gives the yarn skein appeal is what causes the wearability drawbacks later. The cardinal law of yarn is that twist equals energy. Here we have very little twist going into each singles, and very little twist holding the two strands together. In loose, open stockinette, you'll have wisps of wandering mohair in no time.

Tighten up your stitches, seek opportunities to add some seed and moss to the mix, and you'll be in much better shape.

From an itch perspective, there was none. My swatch remained firmly tucked in my bosom all afternoon without any prickly annoyance. These are among the finest fiber grades you could want. If, however, you are among those who can't comfortably wear Kidsilk Haze, you'll probably feel a low prickle here too, though not nearly as much since the fiber ends are more tightly tucked in.

Conclusion
Like most nicer things in life, this yarn is a little fussy, a little high-maintenance. You can't set your needles on "knit" and churn away. You have to pay attention. Not always a bad thing, as long as you know it up front.

What I appreciate most about Mohair Haze is that it exists at all. Mohair is almost always brushed, and it's a challenge to find traditionally plied mohair yarns. Invest in a single skein—priced at just $10.95, which, for this grade of fibers, spun in Italy, is almost unheard of—and you'll come away a smarter knitter. It'll show you what mohair is really like, the good and the tricky, the soft and the slippery.

Maybe invest in a couple skeins and make yourself a cowl for next winter. I suspect you'll never want to take it off.