I'm really excited about the yarn that I'm reviewing in this post: Moeke Yarns. When I first heard about this yarn on the Woolful podcast, I was intrigued and fascinated by Ioana's story (which you can read more about here) and could relate to her desire to contribute to preserving her cultural heritage of Romania. Since then, I have been following her work on social media and was thrilled when she followed me a few months back. Imagine my excitement when she reached out to me for a collaboration! I had been wanting to try her yarns for a while and I was extremely honored when she asked me to design for her new yarn line, Transylvanian Merino.
Transylvanian Merino is 100% Romanian Merino, fingering weight yarn at approximately 350 meters per skein. I really appreciate that Ioana shares the story behind the production of creating this line, along with the struggles and victories. And I believe that it was well worth it, because I absolutely love this yarn. However, I will put this disclaimer up front: if you're the type who likes working with mass produced yarns (absolutely nothing wrong with that) or something that is not so niche, then you may not enjoy working with this yarn, because this yarn is truly unique but its unique properties may not work for some. Now that is out of the way, let's continue!
Ioana sent me two color ways of her yarn, her natural undyed yarn and her coral and beige variegated yarn. I always like to mention the squishiness and softness of the hanks whenever I first get them, but when I touched the yarns for the first time, I didn't get that. Instead, they are incredibly rustic and "feel" like nature. I love working with soft yarns so I was really surprised that I was drawn to the organic texture of the yarn.
Knitting in this yarn taught me a valuable lesson: don't judge the knitting experience from the first interactions with the yarn (holding it, touching it for softness and squishiness). I say this because I LOVED knitting with this yarn. I'm still trying to figure out why I loved it so much though. It doesn't slide off the needles as easily as some of the other yarns I've worked with, I had to be really careful with the strands because they break easily, and I had to be aware of the type of stitches I was using for my design as high abrasion projects are not suited for this yarn.
While knitting, I could almost feel the process that this yarn went through to get into my hands: from the sheep to cleaning, to dyeing, to spinning, then to me. The oils in the yarn added an interesting texture against my hands and needles and it sometimes put me into a meditative state. I often get impatient knitting 300+ stitches, but I was never bored while knitting with this yarn. Is it because each stitch was different from the rest?
I was really nervous about blocking my shawl design due to concerns that I would accidently break the yarn and all my work would be for nothing! Thankfully that didn't happen, but I didn't block the shawl aggressively (not that I needed to as it was a solid stitch pattern). The final result doesn't have much drape but excellent memory. Ioana has advised to working the yarn small needles to get a dense fabric in order to prevent tears in the yarn and to strengthen it. As I said before, this yarn gives off an incredible rustic and organic vibe, so I purposely chose to design something that wold compliment that feeling: staying away from the lace stitches that I am often inclined to do and went for more textured stitches.
To be honest, I knew that I was going to enjoy working with this yarn, but I was surprised by how much I loved working with it. Despite having to exercise caution so that I wouldn't be constantly breaking the yarn, I don't think I've ever had a more memorable experience. I really connected to the story behind the yarn and Ioana's mission*, loved the rustic and organic feel of the yarn and very much enjoyed the knitting experience. This is an incredibly unique yarn and a niche one at that, so that is not your thing, stay away. However if the words rustic, organic, farm-life, slow living and preservation of one's cultural heritage resonates with you, you don't want to miss out on this truly wonderful yarn.
*This is a great study for branding, and Ioana gets massive points for achieving one of the most important points when it comes to running a small business: telling a story that connects to her audience. Hmmm. Maybe I should write up a post on this in the future...).
Have you worked with Moeke Yarns before? What were your impressions? Stay tuned for the beta release of my design in this yarn and for the chance to win two skeins of this delicious yarn!