Yarn Profile: Prism Merino 12
Technically speaking, this type of yarn construction is called S-on-S cable or crepe. It is the cousin of traditional cabled yarns, such as Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Hand Dyes, the difference being that all the ply twist in Merino 12, in both the tiny component plies and the final plied yarn, is going in the same direction. Such a construction produces an extremely round and springy yarn with extraordinary stitch definition.
Merino 12 comes to us from a Florida-based company called Prism, which has been selling hand-dyed yarns since 1984. While Prism is perhaps best known for its wildly colored and textured novelty yarns with names like Wild Stuff, Cool Stuff, and Neat Stuff, the company also offers several weights of much more elegant, smooth, classically styled yarns, of which this is the bulkiest.
Color is the real story with Prism. The knitting world has a robust population of hand-dyers, many of whose colorways tend to look alike. But it has a far smaller population of hand-dyers who are both lifelong knitters and fine artists.
Such dyers understand instinctively how to build shade upon shade to create a new hue, and they know how to blend hues together on fiber to create a shifting palette of colors that make music together when knit into fabric. Few people know how to do this well—Gina Wilde of Alchemy Yarns is one, and Laura Militzer Bryant, the founder and creative director of Prism, is another.
I didn't even bother with sharp-tipped needles, I went straight to a comfortably blunt-tipped set of bamboo circulars and started knitting. I was pleased to discover quickly that Merino 12 has marvelous cohesion. Row upon row of knits and purls produced itself effortlessly without any snags or difficulties, even when knitting by touch alone.
Moss stitch was surprisingly attractive, both because of the vivid clarity of the purl bumps and the way those purl bumps stood out in relief against the background color shifts. The yarn's springiness resisted even the tightness and control of linen stitch, while feather and fan stood out in ornate detail like the tops of Corinthian columns.
There's a lot this yarn can do. The only thing I'd avoid is stranded colorwork. First, the fabric would be far too bulky for most purposes. But second and more important, stranded colorwork thrives when worked in yarns with blurry edges that can adhere to one another. Merino 12 is simply too smooth and round.
Blocking / Washing
Once blotted and resting on a towel, my swatch was a sad sight. It had stretched and thinned like a wet tissue. Knowing Merino's elasticity, and how much elasticity S-on-S cable spinning adds to yarn, I had faith.
Sure enough, when I returned to my swatch a little later it had dried and pulled itself back together. There was no final change in stitch or row gauge, nor was there any significant blooming along the fabric surface.
In terms of durability, just remember that twist is energy. With its 24 individually twisted strands of yarn, Merino 12 is an energetic and strong yarn that's slow to pill or show any signs of fatigue. It's too bad the yarn is too bulky for comfortable socks (perhaps house booties?) because it'd actually wear quite well, especially if knit at a tighter gauge.
A medium-sized women's pullover with no patterning will require about 933 yards, or 8 skeins, keeping the tab just over $200. What a beautiful, soft, and well-wearing sweater that would be.
I'm guessing many people will want to dabble in just one or two skeins to start. That's perfect, because Merino 12 is an ideal contender for any of the one- or two-skein cowl patterns making the rounds. The linen stitch patterning in Kirsten Kapur's Chickadee Cowl (Ravelry link) would be perfect, and the cowl requires just one skein of yarn.
Or why not conduct your own experiment? Simply cast on enough stitches for your desired cowl circumference and swatch your heart out until you run out of yarn.
3 1/2 stitches per inch on US 11 (8mm) needles
Average retail price
Where to buy online
Weight/yardage per skein
100g (3.5 oz) / 120 yards (109m)
Country of origin
Hand-dyed in USA
Manufacturer's suggested wash method
Machine wash cold / tumble dry low
Color used in review
Source of review yarn