First, the folks at Louet discovered that another company already had a yarn called Niji, so they changed this yarn's name to something much more appropriate—Mooi, the Dutch word for "pretty" and pronounced "moi."
Next, in a move that will make many knitters very happy, Louet bumped its ship date from September to the end of this month and early July (2008). Keep checking the Mooi page on the Louet site—as soon as the product is shipping to stores, you'll be able to buy online from one of them via that page.
And finally, the mill in Canada no longer sells this yarn direct to the public—which will make yarn stores happy because they tend not to like competing with their own suppliers.
What makes this yarn so special? Probably the fibers—a stunning blend of bamboo, bison, and cashmere. Blending a long, smooth regenerated cellulose fiber like bamboo with the super-short downy undercoat fibers of cashmere and bison is a bit like mixing water and oil. You can't just give it a shake and expect everything to be fully blended. Creating a more intimate blend is tricky, however, because cashmere and bison are such delicate fibers. Mix too vigorously and you'll damage the fibers and ruin the blend.
This blend works. The bamboo brings an incredibly smooth, silky luster and strength, while the bison and cashmere give warmth and a delicate halo similar to wisps of steam. The bamboo and bison share hypoallergenic qualities as well.
I always like to know who's behind my yarn, and the people behind Mooi are Jacques and Sylvie of Fibre Isle International, a small mill on Prince Edward Island. Sylvie is no stranger to bison—her sister has a bison farm in Quebec. She and Jacques were happy to hand over sales and distribution to a more experienced and respected company (Louet) so that they could focus on creating more lace blends.
Mooi will be available in lace- and sport-weight, and I review the lace weight here.
Mooi knits up without fuss or fanfare. Despite the relative inelasticity of the bamboo, the yarn was happy to be manipulated into any stitch combination I chose, stretching and flexing to allow for most standard lace maneuvers and even the more picky k2tog tbl (knitting the stitches together through their back loops instead of the fronts). For my lace swatch I chose a motif from Chrissy Gardiner's Path of Flowers Stole.
Not once did the yarn split or become un-twisted. And while it didn't cling eagerly to my hands, it didn't reject them either. Maintaining even tension was easy.
Blocking / Washing
My swatch relaxed significantly in its warm soapy water, but it never lost that distinct sense of "string" that you feel with cellulose and regenerated cellulose fibers.
It happily accepted my blocking, and my lace swatch (shown at the top of this page) dried and blocked like this.
But in the case of Mooi, that portable air-conditioner is running alongside two central heating units: cashmere and bison. The ultimate result is a comfortable room-temperature yarn with drape, a magnificent sheen, and a come-hither halo.
The predominance of bamboo fiber also helps strengthen the yarn and give more durability to the finished garment—although I honestly can't imagine knitting an entire sweater out of a laceweight yarn with such low elasticity. No, this wants to be a showcase piece that flows and drapes off the figure.
If you were creative, you could get a small shawl out of one skein. More likely you'll need two, bringing the tab to $100. A full-sized lace shawl would require approximately 1,200 yards, which translates into 4 skeins, or $200. I know many knitters who won't be able to swallow that pill.
I'm guessing that there are two main reasons why Mooi costs more—a lot more—than your average over-the-counter imported Brand X lace yarn. First, it's made in North America at a small mill and in small batches that require time and care to do properly—without the economics of scale that come from being able to process 10,000 pounds of fiber in one steady run. And second, the yarn contains cashmere and bison fibers that are themselves time-consuming and expensive to procure.
Still, I hear you. Times are tight and we're all feeling a pinch. How can we be expected to spend $50 on a skein of yarn when a lot of us have to pay that much for a single tank of gas?
You could argue that the yarn—and the pleasure you derive from it—will last long after that gas is gone.
Fibre-Isle International for Louet
7-8 sts per inch on US 2-4 (3-3.5mm) needles
Average retail price
Where to buy online
Expect to see it in stores by the end of June 2008, or keep checking Louet
Weight/yardage per skein
50g / 350 yards (approx 320m)
Country of origin
Manufacturer's suggested wash method
None given on my sample skein, but I suggest gentle handwash in lukewarm water with mild soap, lay flat, block to shape, and let dry.
Color used in review
Louet North America